02 Nov 2008

Why? Why why why why why?

Warning: the following post is a rant - I wrote it so that I could get this frustration off of my chest and out of my mind.
I live in California and I cannot for the bloody life of me understand why there are so many Prop 8 supporters. For those of you that don't know, Proposition 8 is a ballot initiative on the California statewide ballot that will eliminate the rights of gay couples to marry.
How can this be taken as anything other than pure bigotry? It literally makes me sick to my stomach. I have not been so angry at the actions of other people in a long time. I can see a small, zealous minority agitating over this, but there are tons of normal people donating and picketing and arguing for the opportunity to strip rights from those who are not like them. Their self-righteousness, intolerance and in some cases, hatred, are so transparent that I have a hard time understanding how aren't completely mortified at their own blatant vindictiveness.
There is simply no good reason to oppose it. There is no way in which this effects their own lives in any tangible way. It is simply that they don't want people that they don't like in the abstract to be in any way accepted in society. They may as well be wearing t-shirts that say "Gay people are icky, Yes on 8!"
It's that there is actually no argument - the entire 'Yes' campaign is "wink, nod - you know you think it's gross too..."
The sad part is that I actually do understand these people - I know tons of people that will vote 'Yes' on this. It's people who are so ensconced in their own little self-righteous, self-affirming communities that they can justify it internally it as a referendum on gayness without feeling personally guilty. It's naked xenophobia that is still so widely accepted that people don't feel like they're bad people like they would if they were equally blatently racist. Every "argument" for 'Yes' works completely unmodified if you replace 'gay' or 'same-sex' with 'mixed-marriage'.
There are no financial, legal or health implications for anyone who would vote 'Yes'. They just don't want gay people to be able to avoid the social awkwardness that comes with having to refer to your husband as a 'life-partner' instead. They don't want their children to even be exposed to the notion that being gay might be OK - secure in the notion that THEIR children could never be gay. It is that simple. It is not even fundamentally religious - there are churches and synagogues that will marry gay couples, there are tolerant congregations all over the place.
I don't blame the people personally, they're by and large good and loving people, it's the environment - the churches and right-wing agitators that think this crap will energize their base, and people trust them and are moved to action and animosity by them unfairly.
The thing that really bothers me is the support and role of the churches in this. The fact is that this entire thing is fanned and supported by churches across the country. I read that nearly half the funding for the 'Yes' campaign has come from the Mormon church alone, and that this Sunday thousands of pulpits will be used for political purposes to encourage people to vote the "right" way on this - the way Christ would want you to vote.
For some reason, I still naively believe that faith is supposed to be a source of strength - teaching love, understanding and tolerance, not to be a support center for bigotry and judgment. What makes it worse is that I probably know the sections and context of the Bible that most of them draw from as the source of their intolerance and self-righteousness much better than they do, but that wouldn't slow them down one bit. No, they are justified in their judgment - God Himself supports them. I found myself thinking of this quote from Obama's "Audacity of Hope":
"We think of faith as a source of comfort and understanding but find our expressions of faith sowing division; we believe ourselves to be a tolerant people even as racial, religious and cultural tensions roil the landscape."

Sure, in a decade this will all be for naught. The slow movement of tolerance will eventually force peoples view on gay marriage go the route of mixed-marriage bans and segregation - but that we aren't there yet is frustrating to me. That people naturally take such pleasure and zeal in excluding minorities and ostracizing those who are not like them, and furthermore that they are allowed to hide behind religion as a justification for their animosity, makes me truly, truly sad.
Please vote 'No' on 8.
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