More Reaction to Proposition 8

I was going to stick this all in an open thread, but the outpouring from the blogs is worth its own space. Also, emotions around me are still running high as the passage of the anti-gay Proposition 8 is dominating the news here.

From the blogs:

“No I am Zoe” over at BlogHer wrote about Proposition 8, the lawsuits surrounding it and the provisional and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted. Melissa Etheridge’s response in The Daily Beast to the passing of Proposition 8 was awesome. The discussion over at Strollerderby was interesting, too. Finally, the No on Prop 8 campaign released a final statement.

The Daily Beast had a roundup of gay, black and black gay reaction to Proposition 8, which was overwhelmingly backed by African Americans who voted for Barack Obama. I thought this reader comment was right on and important to run:

“It seems like the frame for the passage of Prop 8 is going to be “It’s because Obama’s candidacy caused increased black turnout, and the black community is homophobic.”

Never mind that it was voters 65 and over who put Prop 8 over the top, or that one of the whitest institutions in America–the Mormon Church–funnelled millions of dollars from Utah to California to make sure that 8 passed. The parts of the state that went solid for 8 were the inland areas, which are overwhelmingly white.

There’s no question that homophobia is a problem in the black community, especially the churchgoing segment of said community. And even though I understand why Obama (and all of the other serious Democratic candidates) weaseled on marriage equality, that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed in him for not taking a strong stand against 8.

At the same time, I’m frustrated and angry by the rush to pin this defeat on African Americans. It wasn’t a black group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, and paid the signature-gatherers and bankrolled the ads. Nor is it fair to say that Obama’s have-it-both-ways position meant that black voters were going to march sheeplike to the polls and vote as Obama dictated.

Writing off an entire race as hopelessly unenlightened isn’t going to help; in fact, a lot of the rhetoric I’ve seen in the left blogosphere tonight is only going to serve to reinforce the idea that “gay” = “white”, and that the gay community only notices people of color when there’s a comparison to the Civil Rights Movement to be made. And the Blame the Brown People push leaves those of us who are queer people of color marginalized by both of our communities.

That’s not the way to build a coalition, and it’s not the way to win.”

Proposition 8 was an unjust law and I fully expect mourning and venting — and not just from gay people. But it is important to remember that there are gay people of color also grieving this injustice.

13 thoughts on “More Reaction to Proposition 8

  1. Yep, yep, yep.

    Orthodox Jews are also very conservative, but I’d be unhappy to see a rush of people jumping all over them too (and not just because I’m Jewish, though that’s part of it…) I hope this issue doesn’t become a progressive circular firing squad, if you know what I mean.

    I am hesitant to say this because I’m worried I am going to say it wrong, but I think the reason a lot of people didn’t understand what an important civil rights issue this is, is because many people still think of being gay in terms of behavior – and unfortunately as behavior they don’t approve of. They also figure that this is an issue that only affects gay people. Perhaps also there’s the fact that if you’re black, it’s obvious from birth, but sexual orientation becomes apparent much later. In my family, my parents had gay and lesbian friends and colleagues who were out of the closet, so I grew up around them, but those of my peers who were gay didn’t reveal this easily in high school.

    Not sure what this rambling all adds up to, but it seems to me like there has to be a multi-pronged approach – there’s the “gay people are just people, people with families who contribute to our society and deserve the same rights” part, but there’s also the “it doesn’t matter what you think of how other people live their lives – you may not like it but you don’t have the right to dictate your views to the point it interferes with their rights” part. And the two messages don’t always sit comfortably side by side.

  2. taxes

    Melissa Etheridge has a good point, withhold those taxes!

    Random fact that is semi-related: Amish people don’t have to pay any Social Security taxes because they don’t take anything from the system, per their religion.

  3. I will be interested to see

    whether the courts can rule that being homosexual is a trait (like being white or black) and not a chosen lifestyle. If it’s a trait, then discrimination is wrong.  We need the court/legal system to sort this out once and for all.

    I’m thinking we’ll be hearing more about the Kinsey Scale. Yikes.

    • but what if it is a choice?

      Watching cars race around in circles is a choice. It doesn’t make much sense to me; it seems wasteful and sort of nutty.  I wouldn’t personally partake in NASCAR activities, but I wouldn’t have the audacity to say that just because I don’t get it, no one else should do it.  That would be wrong, interfering with the way others conduct their lives for no good reason.

      Why do people feel the need to boss others around?  

      • ITA

        Personally, I have always been a little worried about the “it’s not a choice” argument in terms of gay rights. Because 1. why does it matter if it’s a choice or not? and 2. what if someday we find due to genetics that it is in fact a choice for some people? Ie, some peeps are gay but have no “gay genes”, some peeps have “gay genes”, but are happily living straight? Then the movement has a major problem. So I think it’s a risky strategy.

    • no way

      The courts have no special insight as to whether homosexuality is a trait or a choice.  Courts are appropriate for interpretations of legal issues, and determining how to fit justice to grey areas, etc.  But laws of nature?  Nope.  I don’t trust the courts with this determination.

      And to expand on mamacita’s analogy, watching cars race around in circles is a choice, but as the mother of two boys I know that the desire to watch cars race around in a circle is an inborn trait.  So what does that mean?

    • I see it more clearly now.

      One should be able to marry another consenting adult regardless of gender. That’s the choice that should be legal.  

  4. Here’s someone who has given this

    a lot of thought.  This is the best article I have read on this topic, it is byAndrew Sullivan:

    Prop 8: Chill

    I totally understand the anger, hurt and pain now roiling the gay community and our families, especially in California. But it’s important to keep our heads. I’ve been in the middle of this fight for two decades. It’s important to remember that we have never had this level of public support for marriage equality before. In eight years in California alone, the majority in favor of banning marriage equality has gone from 61 to 52 percent. Meanwhile, California’s legislature has voted for it, 18,000 couples are legally married in California, and legally comparable (if still unequal) domestic partnerships are available. Very soon, thousands of gay couples will be able to marry in Connecticut. The one state with a history of marriage equality, Massachusetts, is showing how good and positive a reform it is. New York recognizes Massachusetts’ civil marriages.
    Calm down. We are not experiencing a massive, permanent backlash.
    The next generation overwhelmingly backs the right to marry, and there is no sign of cultural reversal, even if we have suffered some electoral set-backs. If Obama has taught us anything, it is to keep our eyes on the prize, and not always to react impulsively to hatred, bigotry or simple ignorance by exaggerating its power over us. We are winning. We lost this one, by an excruciatingly small margin. But the whole point of this movement is education in support of toleration. Even though we lost, we persuaded many of something they barely thought about a short time ago. I am immensely touched by the support of straight readers and all of you, gay and straight, who donated time and money to the No On 8 campaign. We need to remember this as well. And the sight of a small minority having basic equality stripped from them by a religiously-funded majority is itself educational. It has already changed minds. One thing we need to remember is dignity in defeat. That’s how it becomes victory.
    And we need patience and relentlessness in explaining our lives. And how human they are. It’s not fair; we should have it all already. But we don’t. And in a democracy, that means persuasion, not fiat.

  5. I love

    Andrew Sullivan – a conservative openly gay man.  He is very balanced and has really profound thoughts on current events.

    There really is only one way for this fight to end.  It will end in equal rights for all to marry and NOT separate but equal either.  (You get a water fountain here, I get one there, you get civil unions, I get the M word).

    If we look at how we won other civil rights issues, they were wars waged with peace, compassion, understanding, protest, and leaders who fired up people’s sense of humanity.

    I think this is one or two champions away from really sinking into the majority that it is social injustice to not let gays marry.

    • I think you’re right

      I don’t think homophobia can survive openly for much longer.  There will always be closet homophobes, but they won’t be legislating.  I really hoped it would have happened last week but I guess it might take a few more election cycles.

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