Thursday, November 6, 2008

A disappointing vote

As thrilled as I am at the election of Barack Obama as the nation's first African-American president, I am so disappointed over the outcome of Proposition 8 in California. The ballot measure banning gay marriage passed with the support of more than 52 percent of the vote. Opponents of same-sex marriage also won in Arizona and Florida.

I have to admit that I'm too angry and heartsick to blog about the California vote at any length. I'm afraid I'll write something that I'll regret.

But I have to say this: What angers me the most is the way supporters of Proposition 8 tried to argue that they were protecting families, and especially children, from some supposed threat posed by same-sex couples getting married. I will never understand how it could possibly hurt one straight man, woman or child in California if gay and lesbian citizens were treated equally under the law.

Perhaps a couple of years ago, I could have been detached about it, but not anymore, not when they're talking about good, decent people, friends who have enriched my life immeasurably. I have seen my gay and lesbian friends' relationships up close, I have been a guest in their homes. I know that their love harms no one, threatens no one. It especially does not threaten children.

There are many, many threats to children in this world, including inadequate health care, inadequate education, a lack of decent food and housing, domestic violence and the inability of their parents to earn a living wage. I don't see a groundswell of support to do anything about any of them.

As a Jew, I know from history what it's like to have lies told about you, how dangerous that can be, how difficult it is to bring truth to the forefront. Martin Luther King said that "no lie can live forever." I hope he was right.


Amanda said...

Yesterday afternoon, I endured both someone I respect at my kids' school laughing casually about how people will have to get "unmarried" in California, and then a tirade from my mom about how sick "those people" are. I can't express the depths of my anguish.

Bob said...

Great post. It's depressing and frustrating. Hopefully things change.

Amanda said...

Esther - a friend of mine sent me this link, which shows there might be the tiniest bit of hope still left alive. I dont' know how accurate it is, but I'm glad to have anything to hold onto right now.

Stella Louise said...

You've expressed it beautifully. I'm completely astonished that my fellow Californians--blue state through and through--could be so narrow-minded.

Esther said...

Hey Amanda, I'm with you. I feel pretty upset, too. Sorry you had to deal with those comments. I guess it's just a matter of continually educating people, talking about our gay and lesbian friends and their partners the same way we talk about our heterosexual friends. But in the end, it's not about liking gay people anymore than the civil rights movement was about liking black people. It's about whether or not you truly believe in equality.

Esther said...

Thanks, Bob. I live and work in a pretty tolerant, liberal, fair-minded environment but people still make antigay comments, which I try my best to answer. Things like this vote remind me how far we still have to go in answering ignorance and prejudice.

Esther said...

Hey Stella Louise,
I think, from what I've read, the pro Prop. 8 people knew which buttons to push. They demonized gay and and lesbian citizens by turning this into an issue of protecting children. And unfortunately, they tapped into a deep-seated strain of homophobia among blacks and Latinos.

What scares me is the fact that religious groups could raise so much money and exert so much influence in enshrining their beliefs into law. Forget the Constitution, forget the Bill of Rights. It's all about the Bible.

As a Jew, that's pretty scary to me. Suppose they wanted to put a measure on the ballot next year banning the sale of kosher food in California. They don't have anything against Jews personally, they just don't want their children coming in contact with bagels and knishes. I know, it sounds crazy and it would never happen. At least I don't think it would.

Stella Louise said...

You're so right about the button-pushing. They were running TV ads claiming that without passage of prop. 8, children would be taught about gay marriage in school (and what's so wrong about that I wonder?). Ended with a camera shot of a doe-eyed little girl, it was retchingly wretched.