12
Nov
08

post-Prop 8.

I’m happy to return to my more radical politics, but we’ll get to that later.

A few days ago, a 52% majority of Californians eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry by passing Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment defining marriage as that between one man and one woman only.

Discrimination is officially written into the California Constitution. Thousands just lost a right many consider to be fundamental, along with many of the [heterosexual] privileges that come with it. 

Many of the queer community have responded by scapegoating the Mormon church (and the entire state of Utah) who spent millions of out-of-state dollars on a Yes on 8 campaign of lies and deception [and hatred]. Their campaign propagated the lie that same-sex marriage  would be taught in schools (and with it, acceptance of homosexuality as normal), to children as young as six. Also, that religious facilities, and by extension their affiliated charitable community organizations, that refused to perform same-sex marriages would lose their tax-exempt status. They used backwards and confusing slogans such as “Prop 8 equals less government” and “Prop 8 protects families”. They purposefully decontextualized statements made by politicians, namely Obama. They ran radio and tv advertisements on every available time-slot and station. They blanketed communities with signs and bought internet ad space on every website they could. They did all of this in multiple languages, and they did so subtly [and then not-so-subtly] for months.

It’s understandable why some people have reacted with overt hostility towards this group, but it is a displaced and inappropriate [and embarrassing] response. 

It’s also confusing. Frankly, I don’t understand why, under separation of church and state, any religious organization is exempt from paying taxes. Granted, many of these organizations provide invaluable resources for their communities–charity made necessary by the shortcomings of state-run social support [funded by TAXES], but the vast majority do so while pushing their faith-based agenda. This not only allows them to alienate [if not discriminate against] those who may not share their views, or those who may not enact them just so, but also allows monies that could, and arguably should, be going back into the government to be funneled into campaigns like this. 

Although the Yes on 8 campaign mystified the issue for some, it did not do so for the whole 52%. The Yes on 8 campaign worked because it tapped into the homophobia that the majority was already harboring. Homophobia and the system that perpetuates it is the scapegoat, not the Mormon church. If people were not homophobic, they would not care about their children learning that the marriage of two people of the same sex is equal to that of two people of different sexes.

Many queers have also chosen to scapegoat the Black community for the passage of Prop 8. Blacks turned out in record numbers to vote for Obama this year, and unfortunately, they also voted “overwhelmingly” yes for Prop 8 (70% voted Yes). The Latino vote, also, has received similar recognition (52% voted Yes).

The failure of one group to recognize the struggle of another is staggering, but not uncommon, nor unforeseeable. Is it really any wonder that a group traditionally mobilized from within the church turned out in favor of Prop 8? I don’t think so. Is it also surprising that some members of a group whose oppression in this country began with slavery and has yet to see an end (despite President-elect Obama) don’t consider the desire of some gays and lesbians to gain access to marriage a legitimate struggle?

Perhaps the failure of the gay and lesbian movement to include, if not at least reach out to, communities of color until the week before the election, all the while co-opting the struggle of the civil rights movement, specifically the politics of interracial marriage played a role as well. Comparing the assimilationist struggle of same-sex couples to gain access to marriage to a racial caste system, the effects of which still remain to be seen in white suburbs and urban ghettos, may have rubbed some the wrong way. Yes, they are similar, insofar as most of us alive today think it’s completely outrageous that two people couldn’t get married based solely on skin color, and at least 48% of us think it’s completely outrageous that two people can’t get married based solely on gender. But, queers were not enslaved, or disenfranchised (McCarthyism notwithstanding). The second-class citizenship of those of queer identity is not the result of American imperialism (although it is arguably an illustration of American fascism). 

The plight of gays and lesbians is unique. The “queer community” is arguably the most diverse imaginable. Sexual orientation cuts across lines of class, race, gender, background, ability, citizenship, location, religion, age, sex, politics. In a lot of ways, queers are an invisible minority. In some ways, re-framed, queers might actually be the majority. And yet, the struggle of this immensely diverse group of people is framed around the struggle for access to an oppressive patriarchal institution rooted in monogamy, heteronormativity, gender normativity, reproduction and capitalism. Because, for many, marriage is the means through which people access healthcare and like services, acquire and transfer property, start and raise a family. We live in a patriarchal system, and marriage is how we participate in it.

This is so because we allow it to be. We’ve allowed the separation of church and state to be little more than a myth in this country. We’ve allowed a religious morality to permeate every facet of our government and its institutions at the cost of equality. The only reason I can’t marry the person of my choosing is because other people’s religion has shaped my government. And the only reason I’d want to, is to gain access to things I should have anyway. We need to abolish marriage. We need serious structural reorganizing before we can start talking about equality in any sort of tangible way. We need to demolish the patriarchy.

And in the meantime, queers need to stop vying for things that are not solutions to our problems. Gaining access to marriage won’t stop homophobia. And gaining access to marriage won’t guarantee anyone healthcare. Queers certainly need to stop spewing hatred at religious groups, and need to resist the popular urge to fall back on blaming the Blacks for something (because, seriously, it’s old hat).

Our differences need to stop dividing us. We’re not all the same, but we all deserve the same.

We need to funnel our anger and frustration and momentum into making real change.

Advertisements

0 Responses to “post-Prop 8.”



  1. Leave a Comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


archives.

Categories


%d bloggers like this: