by Tom McMasters-Stone
The morning that the Prop 8 decision was expected from Judge Walker, a Facebook friend of mine wondered “if the will of the people” was going to be carried out today.
I pointed out to him that it was the Constitution’s job to protect minorities from the majority, that it was once popular opinion to keep Negroes in chains, keep the races from inter-marrying, and women from voting. After all, I said, this continent was settled (by white people, anyway) because of religious intolerance elsewhere, and our country was subsequently founded on the same principle.
I also told him that they were the ones that dragged Prop 8 into their tax-free pulpits, and that anybody who voted to impose their religious beliefs on those who did not share them was as much a traitor to this country as Benedict Arnold was.
He chose to unceremoniously de-friend me.
Later, I wondered aloud on my Facebook page “If religions are in charge of marriage, how come we go to Court to get a divorce and not to Church?
One of my oldest and dearest friends “shouted” at me: “BECAUSE THE PEOPLE VOTED! WHY EVEN HAVE THE VOTE?”
Good question. Judge Walker obviously ruled we should not have, but I let that one go. We did go back and forth for a bit longer.
He finally asked me if I liked Tea. I said “Sure- in Boston Harbor. And have those Teabaggers hold on real tight when they throw it in!”
Later that day, the post-decision attacks on Judge Walker began almost immediately. “Biased”. “Activist judge”. “Targeted” by those “judge-shoppers”. “Practicing homosexual.”
Activist Judge. I love that. It’s Latin, for “We just got our asses kicked!” We, the People got our asses kicked not so long ago by the 5 “activist” Supremes who gave Corporations the status of Constitutional Personhood.
Likewise, I have always loved the term “Practicing Homosexual”. It makes me feel bad for gay people, because it implies lots of practicing, but game time somehow never seems to arrive!
“He’s biased, should have recused himself because he (apparently) is gay.” THAT’S THE WHOLE POINT, you morons! It’s not a goddamn hobby, or a lifestyle, or a choice. Shall all men recuse themselves from abortion cases? Or all women?
Judge Walker is a 65-year old, gray-haired, white guy who was nominated at various times by Nixon, Reagan, and Bush (Sr.), was originally opposed by Nancy Pelosi because he was “unfriendly” to gays, and is described as having once upon a time been active in Republican political circles.
He’s also gay (maybe). Just like he might have an AB- blood type, freckles, or size 17 feet, like my beloved father-in-law. Being gay is part of what he is, not of how he thinks, not of how he feels- and certainly not how he views and analyzes the world’s greatest historical document since the Magna Carta!
Let’s take it a little further, though. If a gay judge is biased one way on this issue, then, by that same logic, aren’t “straight” judges biased the other way?
The whole recusal hoopla is nothing but a smoke screen, a red herring.
I had a dream last night that a Preparation H plant wanted to locate in our fair city. When it came before the City Council, one person suggested I had a bias, and should recuse myself, because I have a rectum. Another was more creative, suggesting that I should recuse myself because I was an asshole.
All those suggestions are equally ridiculous- well, no, not the part that I am an asshole, just that it is not grounds for my recusal!
Besides, if having been discriminated against, if having a “bias”, truly affected one’s judgment on these matters, would not the Catholics and Mormons- two of the three greatest targets of religious discrimination in our history- be LEADING the crusade for gay and lesbian equality?
I guess not.
I am amused by all the horror stories about what will happen when gay marriages are allowed to occur freely. I find them shallow and baseless, I consider them fiction, and I even have a name for them: Aesop’s Feebles.
A few years ago, I met a lesbian couple at camp. They have a set of triplet girls, and an older son. Two years ago, I was honored to officiate at their wedding in a beautiful glade near the creek. I have watched this family for four years now- yes, for a week at a time- but also when the kids are hyper, or grubby, or exhausted. As I said during their ceremony, if we could bottle and sell what that family has, the world would be a much better place.
I am also glad to report that there seems to be no confusion, neuroses, or nightmares amongst the kids generated from calling their mothers “Mommy” and “Mama”.
It’s not the only gay or lesbian wedding I have been privileged to conduct, and they will resume as soon as Judge Walker clears the way. And, as always, if the Gride & Broom desire, I am always willing to start the ceremony: “Queerly beloved…”
Maybe I will even do free “Wedding Wednesdays!” here at the Gazebo in Winters, and ask the local restaurants to kick in a bottle of wine for the subsequent celebratory dinners. I can assure you, good economy or bad, the restaurants here are not myopic about who walks in their front doors!
Look around the world, look next door. I guess “they” are worried that we will become absolute train wrecks like, you know, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Canada, Norway, Sweden, Portugal, Iceland and Argentina.
Wait. There’s one more: South Africa. That’s right. The United States of America is lagging behind South Africa on a civil rights issue. Now THAT makes me want to run right out for some apple pie!
As enthusiastic as the attacks have been, so have the opposite reactions of both Governor Schwarzenegger and Attorney General Jerry Brown. They not only lauded the decision, they wholeheartedly have been pushing for gay marriages to resume immediately.
On the other hand, the White House response, officially and anonymously, has been tepid, at best. Granted, the President has been consistent in his views on the matter, but there was an opportunity here to applaud the process, to applaud the Constitution and the importance of civil rights, without changing his position on same-sex marriage.
It’s hard to hit a home run when you are always worrying and wondering about what’s going on in the other team’s dugout. It’s very sad that Laura Bush has more civil rights’ creds on this issue than the former senator from Illinois.
I designed a t-shirt during the 2008 campaign that reads “The Last Guy Elected From Illinois Worked Out Ok…” I hope I will be able to change it to “Two Guys” when the next person from Illinois steps forward.
But this is not a Republican vs. Democrat issue, nor should it be. We who support Judge Walker’s ruling want marriage equality for everyone- because everyone deserves it.
Dick Cheney’s daughter, Mary, should be able to marry. So should Larry Craig and Ted Haggard- no, not each other, that’s not what I meant! Sheesh. Alan Keyes’ daughter, Maya, as well should have the opportunity to marry, should she ever desire to do so.
But it’s not just “famous” Republicans, either. It’s also one of those cops you passed today, or one of the firefighters that flew by you yesterday, or the Deputy District Attorney, or the local Realtor, or attorney, or Rotarian, or Soroptimist, or even
some of the local NRA folks!
I wish I knew where it will go from here.
I am intrigued by the possibility that the appeal will be rejected out of hand, as those who “lost” have suffered no harm, and Federal Court rules and laws are pretty specific on those kinds of things. I think the odds are slim, but it is very interesting to me- not as the person who likes Judge Walker’s decision, but as the one who has had a long-standing interest in the subtleties of the law.
Still, there is hope in Judge Walker’s conclusion: “Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license,” Walker concluded. “Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the Court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”
As far as my friends query about why did we even vote? Ted Olson said it nicely: “We do not put the Bill of Rights to a vote!”