Monday, November 10, 2008

The Emotion Roundup

I'm mad.

I'm angry that Proposition 8 passed. I'm mad that Californians voted to ban same-sex marriage. They kicked gays and lesbians into the La Brea tar pits.

Never before has a state yanked away gay marriage after it had been legalized. California has historically led in the area of social change. The state Supreme Court's decision last May granting gay marriage sure looked to be the latest example. Now California leads in heading backwards. The about-face was so fast the whole state must have whiplash.

Gay Golden Staters suffered a soul-crushing overnight demotion to second-class status. On Nov. 4 they had the right to marry; by Nov. 5 they didn't. It's as though the sandman flew around sprinkling sand and pilfering privileges.

Straight Californians told their gay neighbors you're going back, back to the realm of domestic partnerships/civil unions/wedding rings made of daisies. And if our state Supreme Court said that makes you separate-but-unequal, that's the point! You're lesser and we're going to make sure you know it. From the privacy of voting booths.

Oh, and if writing discrimination into our constitution seems a bit distasteful, not quite American or Californian, well, sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do. It's a cross we're pretty sure we can bear.

I'm bitter.

The Mormon church, the Catholic Church and the usual fundamentalist Christian outfits poured money into the campaign to rid gays of the right to marry. Their religious conviction that homosexuality is a sin stands between me and my civil rights. I'm bloody tired of these groups forming a blockade like the Spanish Armada.

You'd never know that in its decision legalizing same-sex marriage the California Supreme Court explained that religious entities would be as untouched as vestal virgins.

Allowing gays to marry "will not impinge upon the religious freedom of any religious organization, official, or any other person; no religion will be required to change its religious policies or practices with regard to same-sex couples, and no religious officiant will be required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs."

So you can continue to discriminate merrily within your own faith. But that wasn't good enough for these churches, and they pulled out all the ecclesiastical stops on Prop 8.

That's not all I'm bitter about. In California African-Americans went to the polls intent on voting for one of their own—and against gays. Some 70 percent of black voters backed Prop 8, even as they voted overwhelmingly for gay-friendly Barack Obama.

LGBT voters helped African-Americans achieve their previously unthinkable goal of a black president. African-Americans helped LGBT folks return to second-class status. The situation has more ironies than Sarah Palin has skirts.

On and after Nov. 4 we saw African-Americans of all ages crying with joy. Obama was a symbol for them that they have made it at last. Prop 8 was a symbol for us that we haven't.

I'm optimistic.

Now that I've vented my negative emotions into the atmosphere, I can acknowledge that I absolutely believe we'll get what we want and deserve. History really is on our side. Gay marriage will continue to move forward—and sideways, backward and diagonally.

As president, Obama will model a happier attitude toward gays generally, assuming he keeps his promises. This will help all LGBT people, but my hope is African-American gays will benefit most; Prop 8 underscored how often black gays are between a rock and a hard place and another rock.

What I find myself seriously pleased about is that I'm not the only one who's mad. The stealing of rights in California pissed off gays so much they took to the streets to protest. That's my idea of fabulous.