Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Sure You're Right: A Letter to the Sponsors of Proposition 8

Some context--I sent this to the official Yes on 8 folks.

Well, congratulations. You’ve managed to enshrine discrimination in the California constitution.

I heard your arguments for why it’s ok to discriminate against gays in this instance. I listened to them because I wanted to understand.

“It’s not about hate!” you said. I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure I must have been mistaken when I thought I saw disgust on the faces of the charming couple from Massachusetts featured in your ads and on your website. I’m sure it was just difference of opinion. They don’t hate gays, after all. They don’t consider them less than human, or second-class citizens. They just wouldn’t want their children to think it’s ok to be one.

“It’s not discrimination because gays have all the same protections through domestic partnerships! It’s exactly the same!” you said. I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure the federal government recognizes that they’re the same and affords all the federal level marriage protections to domestic partnerships, too. And since it’s exactly the same, I’m sure you would have no problem at all if straight couples were only allowed to have domestic partnerships recognized by the State as well. Except, no, wait. That’s not what you want, is it? So maybe they’re not exactly the same after all.

“ We have to protect traditional marriage!” you said. I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure heterosexual marriage today looks exactly like it always has. I’m sure married women have always been able to own property, and practice their religion as they see fit, and divorce men who beat them. I’m sure that marriage has always been between one man and one woman and that there’s never been state-sanctioned polygamy since the beginning of history. I’m sure that the same arguments were never used against interracial marriage. Also, I’m sure that all traditions are always good.

“Activist judges thwarted the will of the majority!” you said. I’m sure you’re right. I’m sure that the judicial branch’s constitutional mandate as determined by over 200 years of jurisprudence is to protect the will of the majority. I’m sure that the courts in this country have no duty at all to protect the rights of the minority, especially a constitutionally protected class (at least in California), against de Tocqueville’s “Tyranny of the Majority”.

State recognized same-sex marriage doesn’t infringe on your rights. It doesn’t infringe on your right to practice your religion. It doesn’t infringe on your right to marry someone of the opposite sex. It doesn’t infringe on your right to “disagree with the gay lifestyle” or your right to say so. It doesn’t infringe on your right to free exercise, free speech, or peaceable assembly. It doesn’t infringe on your right to bear arms, your right against self-incrimination, your right to vote, your right to equal protection, or your right against unreasonable search and seizure. As near as I can tell, the only right it infringes on is your right to be comfortable with your own unchallenged mean-spiritedness and selfishness, which isn’t really a right at all.

The one solace that I find in your victory is the fact that despite the disingenuous ads, despite the fear-mongering, despite the appeals to Californians’ own worst natures, despite the “Who Would Jesus Blackmail” threatening letters and the millions of dollars spent in possible violation of the LDS church’s tax exempt status, you only managed to convince 52% of California voters that bigotry was worth protecting. Only 52%. Let’s ponder that for a moment.

52% down from 61% only a few years ago. Even assuming that the ACLU and Lambda Legal challenges to this abomination fail, that means that change is still coming, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it. The war is far from over, so enjoy your victory while you can. Then put on your big kid pants and prepare to deal with equality. Because it’s coming. I’m sure of it.

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