Thursday, November 13, 2008

On Un-doing Right

I mentioned this briefly in another post, and other people have written more eloquently on the matter, but the fact of the matter is that voters in California undid the right thing last week: they took away the right for same-sex couples to get legally married. The key here is that they took it away.

In May of this year, the California Supreme Court overturned the ban on same-sex marriages. The Supreme Court. It went that high, and the powers-that-be found that it was unconstitutional to deprive same-sex couples of the right to marry. As a result, thousands of same-sex couples got legally married in the state in the following months. Married. As was their RIGHT, because they were in love with each other and wanted to make that level of commitment that so many straight couples consider a fact of life and a necessary stage of partnership.

Then, a mere 6 months later, that right was revoked, due to a slight majority (52%) of people voting for Proposition 8. The name of Prop 8? Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry Act. The freaking NAME of the proposition flat-out stated its intent to "eliminate a right." And it passed. Because barely more than half of the people in the state voted for it.

And that is horrifying. Because how can it be that it only takes a 52% majority to ELIMINATE A RIGHT!??? What if that proposition was to "eliminate the right of non-white Americans to vote in the general election"? By the same faulty logic that had same-sex marriages revoked, white voters ALONE could revoke the rights of non-white folks to vote - and it wouldn't even take ALL white voters. Of course, that is a ridiculous premise that could never happen . . .

And yet - Proposition 8 did happen.

And what about all those happy couples that had marriages planned for this coming year? Cancelled. Not only cancelled - but banned. Made illegal. And those that already got married!? Fear and uncertainty. It's unlikely that their marriages would be annulled - but it's possible. For all those straight folks out there that still aren't horrified about this - imagine if you were part of an interracial relationship last spring and then had your marriage deemed illegal six months later because 52% of the people in your state didn't approve of your marriage?

It makes no sense. It seems completely illogical. At the same time that we voted a black man into the Oval Office, we allowed voters to take away rights from other citizens. And that is a conceptual paradox that cannot be acceptable to anybody who felt pride in our country last Tuesday night.

Still, we fight on.

1 comment:

Jennifer said...

As a former Californian (and a Californian in my heart) this whole Prop 8 thing makes me sad/angry.

But I DO think it's important to keep fighting. Not to give up. And honestly, part of the work that remains to be done is a change in attitude/values--a change in culture.

It means EDUCATING people that this is a human rights issue--and making people understand that every person who voted yes on Prop 8 who claims that they don't "hate" gay people, is still sending a message that queer people are second-class citizens--or even worse, dehumanizes queer people.

And if we dehumanize one group of people, we dehumanize us all--if you believe in a social justice paradigm--or, ironically, a Christian paradigm.