Overturning Prop H8 a victory for more than gays
by Debra DeAngelo
Seriously, how can you expect me to comment on anything else when Prop H8 has gone down in flames. By the time this column sees ink, however, the commentary from both sides will be in abundance, and is there truly anything I could possibly add to the mix? Do you think that’ll stop me from trying?
For starters, let me reassure all those folks out there who are sure this is the end of marriage as we know it that I raced home to check my marriage certificate upon hearing Prop H8 was overturned, and lo, the ink hadn’t magically disappeared. Still as married as ever, and I’m certain that all the Jacks & Johns and Lucys & Lauras saying “I do” won’t do any more damage to my marriage than I’m capable of doing myself. Same for everyone else. If your marriage crumbles and you want someone to blame, look no further than the mirror.
Although on the surface, it doesn’t appear that I have any stake in Prop H8’s fate one way or the other, not being gay and happily married to a man, I’m concerned about the larger ramifications of the proposition had it been allowed to stand. Beyond banning same sex marriage, Prop H8 would have set a precedent for the mainstream majority to start curtailing the rights of other people whose lifestyles and choices don’t meet with their approval.
If gay people could’ve been legally defined as “less than” and not deserving of the same equal rights under the law, what next? Buddhists? Vegans? Skaters? Where would we draw the line between those who are worthy of our Constitutional civil rights and those who aren’t? Allowing the civil rights of some Americans to be stripped, simply because the majority doesn’t approve of them, contradicts everything our country stands for. If we don’t protect the rights of the minorities, then we don’t really have any rights at all. The Constitution becomes meaningless.
Last week’s victory for the gay community was a victory for every group of Americans who fall outside the category of Mainstream White Conservative Christian. If you happen to belong to one of those groups, you should be celebrating right alongside Jack & John and Lucy & Laura. And if you are happily swimming in the mainstream, may the defeat of Prop H8 be a lesson to you: You don’t own this country or the Constitution. They belongs to all of us, whether you like it or not, and whether you like the rest of us or not.
Me, I happen to cherish my Constitutionally protected freedom to live my life as I choose as long as I’m not harming anyone, and I’m so glad all my gay friends and acquaintances can now finally say the same. Freedom feels so much better when you aren’t the only one in the room who has it. Now we can all enjoy it together.
All that said, while celebrating our collective victory, we must remember that the Prop H8ters are regrouping as we speak, already planning their next assault on that segment of society they fear most. In fact, the check from the Morman Church is probably already in the mail, funding the whole appeals shebang, from cheesy lawn signs to a team of lawyers. So, no matter how good this all feels to those of us who cherish our Constitutional rights, we must keep an watchful eye on the Anti-American shenanigans of the Prop H8ers.
So much energy poured into something that has no effect on them whatsoever. Imagine how things could be if the Radical Religious Right focused on the things Jesus actually told them to do rather than channeling all their time, energy and money into controlling the behavior of others. Oh, to have a ringside seat when Jesus returns and watch the self-righteousness of the RRR dissolve into dismay and panic as they discover that Jesus’ agenda and theirs don’t exactly line up.
Imagine their anxiety when He asks how many poor people they clothed and fed, or sick people they cared for, or kindness they extended toward strangers; how many times they turned the other cheek when attacked, or loved their enemies or resisted judging others until they’d examined their own hearts.
“What say you?” He may ask.
“Umm, err, well, Lord,… we have these really nifty lawn signs! And we persecuted all those sinners just like You, err, ummm… Damn. We’re going to Hell.”
And even then, as they struggle and flail to demonstrate that they’ve ever grasped anything Jesus ever said and are sure of their imminent eternal doom, He’ll surely forgive and embrace them anyway, because that is His nature and that is exactly what the Radical Religious Right has such a difficult time comprehending, let alone displaying: Love.
It’s easy to love only the people you like. The challenge is to love the people you don’t. And it’s what Jesus commanded — love one another, unconditionally; love thy neighbor — even thy gay neighbor.
So, although we once again failed to follow Jesus’ instructions on our own, at least the court stepped in and made it happen. Hallelujah for the defeat of Prop H8! Despite our best attempts to thwart it, in the end, love prevailed.