The other night I was watching a movie about a man and woman living in the nineteen sixties. The man was black and the woman was white. Instead of sitting in the “negro” section of the movie theatre, they decided to sit together as they were falling in love. As a result of making this choice, the black man was hauled away, arrested and beaten so he would learn a lesson about where his place should be. We look back at the oppression colored people faced in the past and shake our heads in dismay. However, when a loving gay couple wants to get married, people try to pass a law that takes away their freedom to pursue such happiness. Years after the success of the civil rights movement, an unjust law (proposition 8) that takes away a homosexual’s right to marry is voted in. This law has been the focus of many lawsuits and is still going through an exhausting court system. How did this happen?
Proposition 8 YES adds exactly 14 words to the California State Constitution:
"Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
For the sake of clarity, I will now refer to all who oppose prop 8 as supporters of gay marriage and all who support prop 8 as oppenents of gay marriage.
I have no doubt that hatred for gays is alive in this country. I have personally witnessed prejudice against many groups including; racial minorities, women, and gays, many times in my life. This is why the law needs to be just regardless of the fact that many people are hateful to those who are different. Gays and other minorities have been victims of: bullying, murders, and lynching, which is why the law needs to be against such injustices. As my friend, Alfred Surenyan said to me, “it isn’t about tolerance. We should not tolerate hate and violence. It is about embracing other cultures and lifestyles and appreciating diversity.”
I’ve heard the main political factions that support proposition 8 say that they let their gay neighbors come over for barbeques. However, they don’t want their children seeing them married. I do not understand what the difference is. If they let their gay friends come over for barbeques, why do they not support their friend’s right to get married? What difference does it make to them if their gay friends are married or not, and how will this negatively affect their children? There are a lot of holes in this argument mainly because it isn’t based on any logic. It is based on a hidden prejudice against gays. This is like saying that you are against interracial marriage because you don’t want your kids seeing black and white couples together. However, some of your best friends are black. Being around a married gay people hurts no one, just as being around interracial couples hurts no one. If someone has a problem with who one chooses to marry, that is their problem. It should not be an excuse to pass an oppressive law. I would rather a person marry the one they love and enjoy the sanctity of living in an honest relationship, than watch a person marry someone they don’t love just to appease a law or a prejudiced society. Meanwhile, we see celebrities marry and divorce with a drop of a hat. We see people marry for money or politics yet we deny two gay people, who are in love, the sanctity of marriage.
Another argument I hear against gay marriage is that it interferes in people’s religious practices and beliefs. This is a fallacious argument because it isolates one particular belief and ignores the beliefs of others. This argument is oppressive to many religious groups and goes against our freedom of religion. I know many Christians who believe that Christ would gladly support gay rights if he were alive today. The other day, I was speaking to my friend, Alfred, about this topic. He is a Priest of the Wiccan religion. He marries people and also specializes in marrying gay couples. Now that one religion has been satisfied by not allowing gays to marry, his religion and holy practice has been affected because his right to marry gays has now been taken away. Religions had rights before this law was passed. They could marry whoever they wanted. Now they don’t have a choice. This is like saying that it is alright for one religion to pray in public but not for another. Our laws should be as fair as possible and they can only be fair if everyone has equal freedoms; freedom to pray and freedom to marry who they want to marry. If everyone has the right to do what they love and what they believe in, all will be fair. There is a difference between allowing people to believe in what they want, and changing a law that takes away a person’s right to marry who they want.
Here is a list of the many religious groups that SUPPORT gay marriage via wikipedia:
All six Episcopal diocesan bishops in California jointly issued a statement opposing Proposition 8 on September 10, 2008. Southern California's largest collection of rabbis, the Board of Rabbis of Southern California, voted to oppose Proposition 8. Other Jewish groups who opposed Proposition 8 include Jewish Mosaic, the American Jewish Committee, Progressive Jewish Alliance, National Council of Jewish Women, and the Anti-Defamation League. Los Angeles Jews were more opposed to Prop 8 than any other religious group or ethnic group in the city. Jewish Angelenos voted 78% against the measure while only 8% supported the measure; the remainder declined to respond. The legislative ministry of the Unitarian Universalists opposed Proposition 8, and organized phone banks toward defeating the measure. They see opposition to the proposition as a civil rights and social justice issue and their actions against it as a continuation of their previous works in civil rights.
In addition, the California Council of Churches issued a statement urging the "immediate removal of Proposition 8" – saying that it infringes on the freedom of religion for churches who wish to bless same-sex unions.
As for marriage always being between a man and a woman, this link shows that marriage between two men was once sanctioned by the Catholic Church:
The religious groups who OPPOSE gay marriage say that gays will sue them if they refuse to marry them. This is a ridiculous argument. In the past, gays could go to any of the above churches and be blessed in a same sex marriage. Now they can’t go anywhere to be legally married. A slew of lawsuits came out when prop 8 was passed because it discriminated against gays. If you want gays to leave you alone, grant them their rights. If you want gays to constantly protest and demand their rights, continue to oppress them. If you stay out of their business and let them marry whoever they like, they will stay out of yours.
The largest argument I have heard against gay marriage is that children would be taught in schools that gay marriage is the norm. This argument is not based on logic but a fear of change. Some people want to go back to a time when anything different was considered an abomination. Let’s go back to the time when gays were thought of as diseased and blacks and women were considered second class citizens. The stigma against gays has already changed due to many scientific studies. There is now a large body of evidence that indicates that being gay, lesbian or bisexual is compatible with normal mental health and social adjustment.
The American Psychological Association, the American Psychiatric Association, and the National Association of Social Workers state:
In 1952, when the American Psychiatric Association published its first Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, homosexuality was included as a disorder. Almost immediately, however, that classification began to be subjected to critical scrutiny in research funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. That study and subsequent research consistently failed to produce any empirical or scientific basis for regarding homosexuality as a disorder or abnormality, rather than a normal and healthy sexual orientation. As results from such research accumulated, professionals in medicine, mental health, and the behavioral and social sciences reached the conclusion that it was inaccurate to classify homosexuality as a mental disorder and that the DSM classification reflected untested assumptions based on once-prevalent social norms and clinical impressions from unrepresentative samples comprising patients seeking therapy and individuals whose conduct brought them into the criminal justice system.
In recognition of the scientific evidence, the American Psychiatric Association removed homosexuality from the DSM in 1973, stating that "homosexuality per se implies no impairment in judgment, stability, reliability, or general social or vocational capabilities." After thoroughly reviewing the scientific data, the American Psychological Association adopted the same position in 1975, and urged all mental health professionals "to take the lead in removing the stigma of mental illness that has long been associated with homosexual orientations." The National Association of Social Workers has adopted a similar policy.
Thus, mental health professionals and researchers have long recognized that being homosexual poses no inherent obstacle to leading a happy, healthy, and productive life, and that the vast majority of gay and lesbian people function well in the full array of social institutions and interpersonal relationships.
As you can see from the evidence above, homosexuals will not affect your child’s schooling. The stigma against gays has been removed by most public schools in order to adhere to the latest scientific evidence with or without proposition 8. Videos (such as this one: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q723nhwu4C4&feature=fvst) that teach children that homosexuals will turn them gay have been removed from the school system decades ago.
What is wrong with teaching children that there is nothing wrong with homosexuals? I have heard way too many cases of gays being lynched and killed. These cases are almost identical to the ones that colored people faced before the civil rights revolution. When we point out other people as being different, it will lead to fear, hatred and violence. I choose peace and understanding. During the civil rights movement, proponents of segregation said if blacks were given the right to intermingle with whites, our country would grow more violent because the two sides cannot stand one each other. Yet, fifty years later, we see blacks and whites going to school together, working together, and even marrying each other. Having just laws has made whites and blacks friends and has encouraged peace within our society. In my own experience, I have seen homophobic people become accepting towards gays simply by becoming friends with them. Sometimes, being around people who we think are different is all it takes to realize that there was never any reason to hate or fear them. When my son tells me that his school mates make remarks against gays, I tell him that there is nothing wrong with being gay. This open minded approach has taught him to respect other people’s differences and I am raising one child who is less likely to bully or lynch an innocent gay person due to his ignorant upbringing.
America is the land of equality. Our Bill of Rights defends our right to pursue happiness regardless of who we are. If we are to live in a peaceful society, we need to uphold this bill and put it into practice. What is next for gay rights? We are still fighting proposition 8 in our courts. I am a huge proponent for civil disobedience. I have seen it successfully implemented by Ghandi, who freed India from English rule and by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. who ended the segregation of blacks. Civil disobedience is the act of disobeying an unjust law in order to make a point. I think gays should continue to apply for marriage licenses and to never take no for an answer. Also, we need to get the word out and let the public know that America is not America if we continue to oppress gays which is why I am making this offer:
I will give a free paper back of my book, “Fireflies” by Lacey Reah to the best argument a person can write supporting gay marriage. Simply write your comment on my blog below. I welcome personal anecdotes. I would love to hear from you.