I'm just going to say it: Prop 8 legalized discrimination. Plain. and. simple.
I am not gay. I don't much concern myself with what people do in their bedrooms and with whom. In fact, I go to great lengths NOT to think about what other people do in their bedrooms and with whom. I am also not religious. I don't much concern myself with what people do in their churchs, synagogs, tabernacles, and mosques. I don't much bother to learn about the entity to whom they whisper their greatest desires, on whom they thrust their most wearisome burdens, and in whose essence they seek their solace. I seek my solace in alcohol, yard work, and great dogs.
But I have been married. I was not making a religious statement by that choice. And that makes an important point. Marriage is not a religious invention. It is not the exclusive provenance of people of faith. Any Tom, Dick or Harry can walk over to any courthouse and marry Mary, Stella, or Pam. A great deal of a marriage is the social and cultural statement you make to people around you. To imply that matrimony is a Holy bond between man, woman and God is total poppycock.
There, I said it. Poppycock.
Marriage between a man a women and God is a dysfunctional three-way, but if that's your gig, own it. Just sell crazy somewhere else, because America ain't about one belief system getting to make all the rules.
Why? Because I do not play by your rules. That's right. I don't believe what you believe. In fact, not only do I not believe what you believe, I don't give a flying fig what you believe. Your rules do not apply to me. I reject them forthwith. Be gone with them.
And this is how it should be. This is America. This is the way of democracy.
Over on Huffington Post, Dan Agin wrote a cogent piece on the relationship between religion, politics and democracy that I think sums it up quite nicely. Read it. Seriously. It's short.
The fact that the LDS and the Catholics made gay marriage a banner issue in this election is, quite simply a level of heavy handedness by institutionalized religion in the democratic process that I am not comfortable with. I am neither Mormon nor Catholic and I do not want the Pope or the leader of the Mormon Church making the rules for America.
As Keith Olberman recently pointed out, the parents of our president-elect were prevented by law in a number of states from marrying at the time Barack Obama was born. Just because some people think imposing their views on everyone else is acceptable, doesn't make it right. It doesn't make it fair. And in cases where allowing dissent of opinion harms no one, it doesn't make sense.
If the LDS and Catholics don't want gay people to marry, they shouldn't marry them in their churches. But please, keep these religious views out of other people's lives, bedrooms, and legal contracts. One religion's views are of no concern to the people who hold conflicting views...or even hold no views at all. How dare any one group attempt to limit social and cultural bonds to only those of whom they approve? What if next they say that only Catholics should be able to marry? Would we continue to support their bigotry? Would we claim they had gone too far?
They have already gone too far.
I do not believe that Proposition 8 should even have been placed before the voters in California. Just because 50 million people can agree to discriminate against a group does not make their agreement just. Or right. Or humane. Slavery. Denying women the vote. Blacks being only 3/4 of a man. Tell me...what is the difference between any of these things that we consider blemishes on our American historical record and our legalized discrimination against people whose sexual orientation differs from our own? I think that denying equal rights to gay people is sinful. That is my belief. How dare anyone attempt to outlaw my beliefs?
Some perfectly decent, loving people among us have been denied the affirmation of their relationship that should be available to all. The right to love and have one's relationship formally accepted in our society is not a God-given right. It is not a government-given right. It is a basic human right and this country should be ashamed that it continues to deny it to anyone.
I think it's time we started being a little more humane to one another. I think it's time we stopped bitching about someone stepping on our toes and started helping other people cross the street. What California has done is not right. It should be undone as quickly as possible. I hope that the rest of our states follow suit.
Don't get me wrong. If you are Catholic or Mormon, I don't blame you personally for this anymore than I blame Catholics for the atrocities perpetrated on children by their priests. I don't agree with those who have made supporters of Proposition 8 the target of economic boycotts or protests. People have a right to support or oppose any legislation that is put before them. This legislation should never have been put before them. This legislation denies one group their human and civil rights simply because the majority do not approve of their lifestyle and vilify them for it. People have a right to spend their money however they choose. If they chose to spend it to support institutionalized discrimination, that is their right.
I am saying this: church thinking is seldom the best thinking for a democracy. Your relationship with your God is a personal thing. It has no bearing over others and should not enjoy the rule of law. In a functional democracy, we have to allow dissenting opinions and we have to acknowledge that those opinions are equally as valid as our own. We must acknowledge that there are times that our beliefs are not what is best for the country. We have to allow for our own beliefs to be wrong. Without the possibility of other opinions being superior to our own, without an understanding that our beliefs can be fallible, we are a theocracy. Without tolerance, we lose democracy. If you so threaten democracy, I will fight you to the bitter end. I choose freedom. For all.
To head back to Feministing, click here.