November 3rd, 2008

New Look

Race, Politics, "Those Gay People", and why intolerance must be fought (like voting NO on Prop 8)

This is something I've been meaning to write about for a long time, longer than even the election cycle.

It hasn't been written for a very long time becuase I haven't had that elusive combination of time and words to write about it, but also because it's a very deep-seated and intense topic for me, and it involves reliving painful memories from a third of a century ago.

The Fight for EqualityCollapse )

The fight for equality has never advanced when people quietly accept what is wrong. It is punctuated by moments where people stand up and say, this is going to stop, and we're not putting up with this any more. All the Jim Crow Laws were finally overturned not just because they were contrary to the principles our Constitution was founded upon, but because people stood up and spoke out against hatred and intolerance. Laws that prevented nonwhites from owning property. Voting. Marrying white people. Eating at the same restaurant as white people. Going to the same school.

Our United States Constitution has a very important amendment, passed shortly after the Civil War. The Equal Protection Clause provides that "no state shall ... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws". This means employers can't post "Irish Need Not Apply" in want ads, and it also means that the Federal Government and the states can't grant constitutional rights to one group of people and deny it to another. The California Supreme Court ruled, in the only rational interpretation as their duty to interpret the Constitution, that people are entitled to equal protection under the law, even "Those Gay People".

Proposition 8 is cut from the same cloth as the Jim Crow laws struck down over two generations ago. It tries to deny a fundamental right to a minority group of people by stirring up a toxic stew of homophobia and relgious dogma. In 2008, a proposition to prohibit Japanese from marrying whites, for example, would never get on the ballot-- but because we as a society are not nearly as far along in getting over homophobia as racism. But they both are born of intolerance, and are cut from the same fabric of predjudice and hatred.

(and religious arguments were used to justify laws against interracial marriage too, back in the day)

This country is not perfect, but the big advantage we have over most societies is that we have a free society guaranteed in a Constitution that we as citizens must fight for and be willing to defend, even against those of our own that would turn it against us. But we have to speak out, and we have to vote against what is wrong.

Freedom means the moral duty and obligation to speak out and oppose those that would take away our hard-fought rights, our liberty, and our pursuit of happiness.

Exercise your freedom on November 4 and vote NO on Proposition 8.

And make sure to vote in the first place, people died for that right in the fight for equality!