Via Towleroad and various Internet sources:
Prop 8 Protest Against Hate
Mormon Temple, Manhattan
125 Columbus Ave at 65th Street
Wednesday, November 12, 2008
6:30pm to 8:00pm EST
I admit it. I am spoiled.
I entered the adult world in the mid-1990s. By that time the foundations of equal rights for gays were well-laid. Thanks to ACT-UP, NGLTF, HRC, GMHC, and too many others to list, the government was no longer ignoring the AIDS crises. Thanks to a variety of courageous pioneers, gays no longer hid shamefully in the corners. We were beginning to be openly elected to public office. Thanks to superior antiviral treatments we weren't dying left and right. Thanks to the accumulated victories in the many small and large struggles over the previous two plus decades, a huge cultural shift was beginning, affecting everything from prime-time television shows to the gay ghettos, which became less necessary in order to live a safe, mostly discrimination-free life.
The way America's views on queers has changed in the past three decades is wonderful.
I have been aware of the various constitutional amendments and legislation that has been passed in states around the country with the intent of "protecting" marriage. These things were irritating but not particularly surprising. The snowball of cultural enlightenment and tolerance was rolling downhill, and despite these bumps, we would continue to inch our way toward equality in all things, without pushing too much.
And then there's California.
I think the marriage equality fight was ill-timed. Had we waited another five or ten years to begin demanding equality in that area, the battle may have already been half-won thanks to the time spent living openly without the world ending. Marriage equality by nature only benefits a small portion of the queer community which is interested in getting married--many queers I know, including myself, have no desire to validate their relationships using this antiquated heteronormative ritual. Fighting for legislation like a trans-inclusive ENDA seems like a far better investment of our resources.
Still, the rights that couples can acquire through marriage are important. Financial considerations, health decision making, and other such civil rights are can be critical things. And the philosophy of separate but equal, i.e., civil unions, chafes my delicate places, to say the least.
So when California's Supreme Court ruled that the citizens of that state could marry, I was very happy. It seemed to be a huge victory. It was a continuation of progress made in Massachusetts and other states. And it seemed to be a solid victory--with 18,000 couples married in California since that ruling, it seemed impossible to think that anyone could still genuinely argue that the world would end if gays are allowed to marry. Years and years of battling discrimination and bigotry couldn't be reversed overnight.
I was wrong. Bigotry won the day.
It feels to me like the snowball came to a screeching halt and then somehow rolled back uphill. It's unfair. I'm angry. Suddenly it doesn't matter to me anymore that I was lukewarm on the marriage equality issue. It doesn't matter that I don't live in California and I don't anticipate ever getting married.
The bigots won this victory for a variety of reasons, but a big one is money. Tens of millions of dollars were spent convincing people who could otherwise care less that it was best for them to vote yes on Prop 8 and constitutionally remove rights which queers had fought hard to earn. This was all accomplished in California, and while it's not my favorite state, it's a place where I believe most people know better than to permit this kind of discrimination. I don't believe that more than 50% of Californians want to take away rights from their queer neighbors. I believe that many were victims of a well-organized and well-funded marketing campaign.
The Mormons were the largest contributors of money to the Yes on Prop 8 campaign. The church gave money directly and incited its members to give even more. This is in direct defiance of one of the oldest tenets of our government, that church and state should remain separate. The separation of church and state is more than a tradition, it is an important axiom of our culture and government. And yet it is regularly flaunted by Christians in the course of trying to constitutionally limit marriage to their traditional interpretation.
I'm sorry folks, you can't have it both ways. If the Constitution and the ideas of our country's founders are really sacred to these conservative religious people, then it is incumbent upon them to first respect the fact that the founders forbade them from allowing religion to dictate personal liberty. In order to ensure the religious freedom which was the goal of the pilgrims, government is a secular institution. And once religion is removed from the argument, there is no legitimate reason to deny gays the right to marry.
There are a ton of religious groups to blame for this injustice. The Mormons become the largest target in this case because they gave the most money.
So I'm going to picket the Mormon temple in Midtown Manhattan this Wednesday. If you're so inclined, come join me. Let's show them that we won't go quietly back into the dark corners.