Posts Tagged ‘voting

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.

05
Nov
08

heartbroken.

there just isn’t another word for it.

Prop 8 hasn’t officially passed yet, but it’s much closer than I expected, and the margin is certainly the inverse of what I expected. I expected to be filled with hope, not despair, not utter sadness.

it was significantly easier for me to ignore the inherent homophobia of the situation when I thought it was coming primarily from Mormons outside of my homestate. it was another opportunity for me to roll my eyes at the “religious crazies”, as I like to call them.

they had a material advantage and a rhetorical advantage. apparently, millions of dollars to spare and the usual “protect the children” slogans, the constructions of “natural” and “historical”, plus the always highly influential religious angle.

all of these things were increasingly difficult for us to combat. refuting lies, offering sound arguments, attempting to symbolically inundate anywhere near the same level, pandering to people’s sense of morality. these were huge projects, and I think we faired very well in the face of evil.

I was moderately prepared for people’s blatant ignorance and confusion, and especially their apathy.

but I was completely unprepared for this level of homophobia. the fact that people apparently have no qualms with not only excluding people from something most consider a fundamental right, but actually removing that right from them. taking a step even further, to no longer say “IIIIIIIIII don’t think I’m ready for you to have this just yet, let’s wait. I’m pretty sure you’re a whole person, but I want more proof”, but now to say “I have found you lacking, so I’m taking this away from you. we are not the same. you don’t deserve what I have. your family is not as important or respectable as my family.”

I think we lost a lot of votes (about 300,000 that we really could have used) to people that got sucked into lies. people that could have been swayed if they had a close friend voting no, or just someone to explain to them that what the people on the radio and tv were saying were lies. “all that stuff about elementary schools… it’s a lie. that stuff about churches getting closed down… big big lie.”

but this doesn’t change the fact that those people voted yes because they were scared. because they were worried about their kids. because they were homophobic. because, maybe they were on the fence, and maybe they didn’t really like the sound of voting yes, but at the end of the day, homophobia won. other people’s, religious zealots that don’t even live here’s homophobia won. the same homophobia that we all encounter every day, however indirectly.

the same homophobia that we all will encounter more so, most likely, after tonight.

one step forward. two steps back.

PS. in Arkansas, gay couples can no longer (could they really before?) adopt children. uh. no steps forward, five steps back.

16
Oct
08

a few words about Prop 8.

First word: NO!

Ok, now more words: 

For those of you that have managed to remain unaware (hopefully the you in question is not Californian, or at least not of voting age), Proposition 8 is a ballot measure for this 2008 presidential election that would AMEND the California constitution to ELIMINATE THE RIGHT of same-sex couples to get married, thus making the only marriage recognized in the great state of CA that between one man and one woman. Same-sex marriage was legalized by the Supreme Court of California back in May, and marriages started being performed in June. so, if this passes with a MAJORITY VOTE it will TAKE AWAY RIGHTS of thousands of people.

Beliefs about marriage and queer rights aside, I do not understand how anyone could possibly vote yes for any measure that would remove someone’s RIGHTS. I do not understand how someone would do this in good conscience. I do not understand how anyone could do this without pause for what it means tangibly for their own rights. I just do not understand. This measure goes beyond conservative. It is reactionary and one of the most blatantly oppressive things I have lived to see in this country. If this passes, it paves the way for others to have their rights stripped from them; rights people may take for granted, such as the right to a family, or the right to own property, or hold a job, or occupy a residence. This is not a measure grounded in public safety or social order, it is one of oppression, ignorance and hatred. 

and now some words about marriage:

I believe marriage as an institution to be an oppressive tool of patriarchy used to elevate some while subordinating others. I do not believe this will change inherently just by granting same-sex couples the right to engage in one. I believe it will continue to function as a structure that excludes many from the “privledges” of marriage; “privileges” that, in my opinion, belong to all families, not just ones that follow a nuclear model. For this reason, I think marriage should be taken off the table and that there should be radical reform so that ALL families are protected with regards to taxes, healthcare, property rights, ownership, child support, guardianship, inheritance, ect. I acknowledge that marriage has a place in church, but I also acknowledge that it has a place ONLY in church. 

All families have the right to be protected. Baby steps have been taken to extend some rights of the privileged to others and we cannot allow them to be taken away by a majority vote. We like to pretend we live in a democracy. We also like to pretend we live under a government that protects minority rights. When are we going to stop pretending? When is the government going to be held accountable? Majority rule? People’s rights are about to be taken away. Do you think it’s going to stop with monogamous same-sex couples?

THINK. and VOTE.




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