8 Isn’t Enough


The supporters of proposition 8 have collectively thrown their hands up in the air in anger, disgust, and frustration. They share in a bewildered disbelief that a law they saw as legitimate, a law voted on and passed by a majority of the public, could be struck down and rendered invalid in one fell swoop. This perceived gross injustice was carried out, presumably, on the whim of a single judge who had the arrogance to deny the will of the people and render one of our greatest freedoms useless. What does my vote count for now? They ask. What gives him the right to do this to us?!? They scream.

Well, in case you haven’t been paying attention to our democratic system of government we’ve instituted here for the last two and a quarter centuries, he was simply doing his rightful job. The job that he, and every other judge before him, has sworn to do. The entire existence of the judicial branch is predicated upon the idea that someone must hear disputes concerning laws and that they must objectively decide whether certain actions should be defined as legal or illegal, and whether or not those standing laws are constitutionally sound. Those who disagree with this decision are so quick to rush to the defense of their all-powerful vote that they are willing to simply trample over the responsibility and charge of the judges who have sworn to interpret the laws and uphold the spirit of the constitution. The very same document that they hold in such high reverence as the backbone of the country is simply ignored in an attempt to enforce their own will.

The underlying issue, once again, is that some people have an inherent inability to separate their own concepts about the morality of an issue from the strict legality of it. No matter who you are, everyone carries with them a moral compass that is guided by their own personal, and sometimes religious, beliefs. Many people take it a step further and feel that these personal moral fundamentals should be directly reflected in the laws of the country. They feel that in order for this nation to continue functioning properly and to stand strong it must mirror the beliefs of its righteous citizens. In almost all cases they get their way, but not always. Alcohol consumption, gambling, and prostitution are just a few examples of acts deemed extremely immoral by many, but nonetheless legal in many parts of the country. Laws are laws and morals are morals. There is absolutely nothing that states they have to match up exactly with one another. No matter how saintly you consider yourself to be, someone else probably thinks you are a godless deviant. That person is probably over the age of 70 and watches you leave your house through a crack in their living room drapes.

Opponents of gay marriage seem to be missing the point entirely, insisting that apples and oranges be compared to one another. You cannot fight legal wars with morality swords. Continually ignoring the fact that, at its core, this is simply a legal matter, they muddle the discussion with talk of nature and procreation. Not only does the opposition try to change the subject entirely, they often try to instill fear in the minds of those people who may be undecided. Fear, that if you allow these marriages to take place that somehow your children will follow suit and become gay as well. They scream that it tears at the very fabric of our society and will cause the disintegration of the family unit. Apparently, they are oblivious to the fact that there is currently no law that forbids people from actually being gay, having live-in partners, having kids, occupying any profession they wish, being openly gay in public, or any other actions that already expose the public at large, including your children, to their lifestyle.

By their own admission, opponents to same-sex marriage say that same-sex couples already experience many of the rights and protections as married couples. Ah…. you can’t have it both ways though! On the one hand, they say that marriage is sacred and special and not to be made irrelevant by these unnatural pairings. On the other hand, they ask what the big deal is all about. Why complain? You share all the same rights and privileges as we do. So what exactly are we talking about here? A legal document? That’s what concerns you? Are we to believe that then the entire dynamic changes because two gay men are wearing similar rings? That standing in front of a justice of the peace for a few minutes and saying I do makes your impressionable kids sit up and take notice… I wasn’t going to be gay before, just because my biology teacher was, but now that he has a piece of paper in a filing cabinet verifying his homosexuality, I’m giving it a second thought! Also, the slippery slope argument that to allow the union of two people of the same sex will eventually lead to all sorts of strange combinations and pairings (man to dog and woman to chair apparently) is not only logically invalid and ridiculous, it completely ignores the discussion altogether, turning a serious topic into a joke or a laughable exaggeration. It’s a red herring to distract the general public from the true debate.

And what exactly is the justification for all of this opposition to same-sex marriage that we continue to hear time and time again? Homosexuality is unnatural, evolutionarily invalid, and does not result in reproduction. The evidence brought before the judge involved testimony from anthropologists discussing millions of years of human evolution, philosophers discussing human nature, and doctors explaining that, of course, two individuals of the same sex cannot physically produce offspring. I don’t think that anyone could honestly dispute any of these experts’ testimony. Once again, and apparently much to the surprise of many people, it has absolutely nothing to with whether or not same-sex marriages have any legal validity whatsoever. It would have done just as much good to bring in a mechanic to testify on what he felt the speed limit should be on the highway. It has absolutely no relevance. I also find it humorous that areas of study normally perceived as having a liberal bias, such as philosophy and evolution, were used as evidence in support of the conservative argument. I guess they’ll use whatever means necessary as long as the desired result is achieved.

Those also trying to find some sort of legal precedent, that will help back them up in their fight against gay marriage, point out prior decisions by judges from 30 years in the past or the fact that the Supreme Court refused to hear a similar case nearly half a century ago. You see?! They say. Why must you continue to push the issue? It has already been decided upon, give it up! Well it’s a good thing that we, as a country, are not bound in iron chains to the decisions of judges from decades ago. Segregation would live on to this day, and the women’s suffrage movement? Nonexistent. A precedent is all well and good to use as a starting point or a reference when trying to find examples of similar cases, which a judge can then use to justify a decision. Luckily, however, it is not mandated that any judge must always follow the narrow-minded and biased rulings of people living several generations in the past.

The cry of the patriotic American says freedom isn’t free! This is very true, but not always in the ways people think. You have freedoms, you have rights and privileges as citizens of this country and they definitely come at a very expensive price to some people. Some paid the price with their lives, some paid through lifetimes of service to the country which allowed others to benefit. But one of the rarely mentioned costs is tolerance. You sometimes pay to live your life the way you wish by agreeing to allow others to live the way they see fit, even if it is in direct conflict with your own beliefs. This doesn’t just mean live and let live, separate but equal, you do what you want, I just don’t want to hear about it or see it. It means everything that I have as a result of being a member of this country, every benefit and legal avenue that I have taken advantage of must also be afforded to you in return. If this basic contract is not upheld, then what, exactly, is this country all about?

Let’s face it, for much of our nation’s history the full rights and privileges afforded by our constitution could only be taken advantage of by a select few individuals who were usually white, male, and land owners. This exclusive club, time and again, tried to keep out anyone else at all costs. In small increments they eventually, and very reluctantly, were forced to bring one group after another into the fold. First non-land owners wanted to get a piece of the pie and the club was forced to concede. Then women demanded equality and justice and they couldn’t be stopped. Soon, America’s black population followed suit and beat down the door, but not without a fight. Now another group wants in and even those who once stood outside the doors of privilege now look back through the peephole and question if it should be allowed. How soon we forget.

Change never comes easy. The pendulum of public opinion swings slowly from side to side. It is a slow and sometimes painful process, but history has shown us that it is almost impossible to halt progress or withhold human rights from any one group for very long. The conservative side will stomp and huff and puff and put up the “good” fight, but in the end they will concede and go kicking and screaming into the future. They always do. The examples of hard fought attempts to stem the tide of cultural movements that eventually failed and faded from memory are too innumerable to mention. Proposition 8 was the latest attempt, but when it’s all said in done, it isn’t likely to be enough.

“You say you’ll change the constitution. Well you know, we’d all love to change your head. You tell me it’s the institution. Well you know, you better free your mind instead.”

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11 responses to “8 Isn’t Enough

  1. Ha! Nice one. I think I smell an idealist behind the apparent cynicism.

    (The gay marriage debate has always left me a bit mystified, as I really just don’t see what the big deal is.)

    • Yeah, I definitely hear you on that one. To be honest it’s not really the subject matter that gets me riled up. They could be fighting over whether or not Pepsi is better than Coke. What bugs me about it and makes me stop and take notice is when there is such a wide disparity between what is being said and argued over and what the actual debate is about. That just can’t seem to stick to the issue and when you bring up that fact to them they usually just spit out some more irrelevance and distract from the matter at hand.

  2. venomousharridan

    “The very same document that they hold in such high reverence as the backbone of the country is simply ignored in an attempt to enforce their own will.”

    Well-said.

    I saw this same principle at work at one of the Ground Zero Mosque protests when the crowd turned on a black man walking through and accused him of being a Muslim (he was not), and even threatened violence.

    They were exercising their right to assemble and protest, but were willing within a blink of an eye to trample upon the rights of another. Even IF the man HAD been a Muslim, no one has the right to persecute or attack him based on his religion.

    “Being Brown” is NOT a crime in this country.

    Mind-boggling.

    • Like most things, I think, it’s using what’s available to your advantage and then just ignoring whatever else you want in order to suit your own needs. A lot of people seem to do it. They stand on their soapbox and throw their finger into the air talking about freedom and the fate of the country and condemning evil, then they start pointing that finger others.

  3. I think that’s human nature though. I’m not saying it’s right, but if something has emotional weight for you, that’s the part you focus on, because it’s the part that you think actually matters. I’m sure the people you’re talking about consider the legal implications just an inconvenient detail in the pursuit of righteousness.

    • Absolutely, and I totally understand how much emotional and moral weight this issue carries for a lot of people. I wouldn’t want to simply cast aside the importance of how strong and deep people’s feelings run because that would be very hypocritical of me. In fact, when prop 8 initially past I thought, “oh well, the majority has spoken, they won fair and square, can’t argue with that.” But the more I thought about it the more It became clear I was wrong. You can’t pass any crazy law you want, no matter how much it flies in the face of the constitution, just because everyone decides it’s okay. If we all got together and said “okay, well, we don’t want our kids influenced by religion, so no more practicing religious faiths in public…” I’m pretty sure that some people might want that judicially reviewed. I just hope someday these people will see that side of it and that when they jeopardize others’ freedoms they are actually leaving their own open for question. Obviously you’re not disagreeing with me here, I just thought I’d lengthen my comments section! LOL. Here’s a good passage that has always stuck with me, I’m sure you’ve probably heard it before:

      “THEY CAME FIRST for the Communists,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.

      THEN THEY CAME for the trade unionists,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

      THEN THEY CAME for the Jews,
      and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.

      THEN THEY CAME for me
      and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

  4. I know my views are totally irrelevant here… but

    like Poles Repel by nature… & Opposite poles Attract

    so .. am Man attracted to a women… is Natural………
    but being Gay…. is something you are forcing upon yourself …..

    “hell.. i wanna be different from the rest…. lemme pretend to like a guy… lemme grab some Headlines……..”

    Man being attracted to a women is like Gravity….. u cant just Defy it……… if you are… its a Gimmick

    • I completely understand the view that men and women are a physically natural pairing. A man and woman’s attraction to one another is strong and the most prevalent occurrence in nature. I do disagree that in most cases it is just a gimmick or attention grabbing ploy. For a small percentage it very well may be, in fact. The idea that I was trying to express in the post is that regardless of the reasoning behind it, there is absolutely no legal ground which would make it ILLEGAL. There are plenty of examples throughout our society of practices which may be deemed as unnatural, but are nonetheless perfectly legal. Being an actor or musician sometimes seems like a pretty gimmicky way to grab people’s attention, but it is still legal, I assume.

  5. I’m afraid all of this confusion is because of ignorance on the part of Americans. I am in American, but I am constantly surprised at the ignorance of the people surrounding me. The first time I voted, I took pains to read the entire book given to me on the candidates. I called everyone I could, and spoke to the candidate personally whenever possible. I found myself confronted with candidates unable to function or hold a conversation about anything outside, “The Issues.” (“I’m not worried about your issues. I’m worried about my issues.”) I also found myself quoting the Chinese proverb, “He who slings mud loses a lot of ground,” a lot.

    When I voted, I was confident that I’d picked the best people, and if I came across something I hadn’t researched, I didn’t vote for it.

    I was speechless when I found out from friends and family afterwords, most of them just voted based on signs they had seen. I haven’t voted since. What’s the point? Why should I involved myself that deeply when my response is drowned in votes unintelligently given?

    • I understand where you are coming from but don’t give up hope! We need more people like you to give a damn and pay a little more attention. Let your attitude rub off on others and not the other way around. It does matter.

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