Wednesday, November 05, 2008

I should maybe not be posting this

Because I don't know how much good it will do. But it's been a long long while since I posted (and it will be a while; I'm focusing my energies in November on writing a novel, just as in October I focused on making a Halloween costume. And this is what I'm thinking about right now.

Prop 8, at the moment, is ahead by something like 4 points, with all precincts reporting and only absentee ballots etc to count. It could still change; but it seems to me that this is, at the very least, more certain than Ohio was at 9 PM Eastern Standard Time last night, and so I am (perhaps prematurely) disappointed. This morning my sentiment (and desire to make sweeping generalizations) could be summarized by "Fuck Los Angeles, San Francisco is the only place in this state that makes any sense." (The SF bay area came out against the proposition, while the LA and San Diego areas and much of rural California came out for it). I've calmed down a little bit, (emphasis on little), although I think that Chicago would be a much happier place to be right now.

My remaining problem with the Yes-on-8 campaign is that, if they win (it's close enough that we need to count absentee ballots), they won on a combination of misinformation and straight-up lies. They made it about protecting children from being taught about homosexuality in schools when existing laws in California ensure that parents would be able to take their children out of any such class. They made it about the freedom to practice religion when no one would force a priest to marry two men if he didn't want to. They spun a fairy-tale of a world in which homosexuality is the norm and someone could be prosecuted (they said this, although I feel like they must mean persecuted) for being adamant that it is a sin. However, in the end, proposition 8 does one thing and one thing only. It eliminates a right for a specific group of people. It isn't protective; it is discriminatory. It isn't about wider issues; it boils down to straight up bigotry and one group of people imposing their beliefs on another group of people.

I hope this doesn't boil down to religion. I really hope it doesn't, because some of the best and brightest people I know are very religious and I do not think they would have voted for prop 8 (in some cases, I know they wouldn't and/or didn't). The only way I see this being about religion is if it is about moral absolutism; religion allows you to say "this is morally wrong" in a victimless crime (such as two men who love each other dearly and have been in a relationship for 21 years getting married). But in general I don't think that it is about religion, and I don't think it is about right and wrong, I think it is about something far more difficult to pin down; something far more subtle. I think that this is about the careful distinction we have to make between "what is wrong" and "what should be illegal". The two are not the same. There are some things which may not be wrong but are illegal (rewarding people for voting, without asking how they voted). There are other things that may be wrong, but should not be illegal (making racist statements, for example, which might not be the best parallel in my opinion because no one is hurt by two people getting married, whereas people are hurt by racist comments).

One last thing that I thought of today, while trying to distract myself from worrying about this by doing experiments. The proponents of prop 8 claim that if it fails, it will usher in a new era in which it will not be acceptable to be religious, and in which kindergardeners will be taught that homosexuality is okay. I, as an atheist pinko commie starbucks-drinking hippie liberal, didn't want to do any of that -- shut down churches, preach to kindergardeners -- until they said I did. But their lies and accusations make me angry enough to turn me into the very villian they make of me. It's something that I have to fight, not to lash out at people who make false accusations, and it's something I consciously do fight, but I feel like those accusations are a self-fulfilling prophecy. Accusing people of being evil and wanting to bring you down is as good a way as any of making people want to bring you down.

My next post will include part of my November's novel.


Girl Noir said...

Fuck Prop 8. Hard.

Even God allows us the freedom to choose Him. The government has a responsibility to respect that same freedom, insofar as it does not disrupt the choices of others.

I'm a devoted Catholic, and my faith means worlds to me - I may be a bad Catholic, but dammit, I want to marry a lady if I see fit. And as consenting adults, the government can't deny us that.

Neen said...

I wonder if this is going to start a discussion about the types of people that fall on either side of the Prop 8 line. It is painfully ironic that tons of the African Americans and Hispanics who flocked to the polls specifically to vote for Obama also voted for Prop 8. As a culture, we tend to think of it as a republican vs. democrat, urban vs. rural, Evangelical vs. not debate, and yet we found out yesterday (well today), that there's also a substantial ethnic component at play. How's the gay community (and other Prop 8 opponent types) going to deal with that? How are the political parties going to deal with that?

And yes, I'm resorting to intellectual musing as a way to work through my bitter disappointment. (and kudos to Episcopalians: the Bishop of Northern California came out against Prop 8.)

Elizabeth said...

@neen: I think we're in the same place re: bitter disappointment. Although I'm rapidly moving through the stages of grief and have mostly come to the conclusion of "Okay. Hopefully, Obama will work against discriminatory policies like 'Don't ask, don't tell', and we can press for civil unions/domestic partnerships being treated as equivalent, and in a few years we can come back and fix it."

Your observation, however, is especially true of African Americans, 70% of whom voted for prop 8 across California (according to The Stranger.) That's in contrast to 53% of Latinos and 49% Whites or Asians. These numbers, I don't think, have little to do with religion (although major kudos to Episcopalians, agreed). And they were, at first, surprising to me. I think that it might have to do a little bit with defensiveness. In my personal experience, I am much less tolerant of others when I feel personally threatened (even if the threat to me and trait I am intolerant of are basically unrelated). Which is the best way I can find to explain why African American (and to a lesser extent Latino) voters would come out for prop 8.

But your larger point; which I take to be the fact that people aren't sorted clearly on party lines, is very well taken indeed. It's the old argument of red v. blue, "real" v. "fake" America, urban v. rural and liberal v. conservative. And in the end, I think we're all pretty much purple, in varying shades. And so just as you could find, four years ago, Homosexual Latino Republicans, (I think I saw a news story about them), this year "liberal" voters came out en masse for things like proposition 8.