Friday, November 07, 2008

party over: a primer on equality and Prop 8 - from a brown straight girl!

We'll take a brief break from the longest post-election party ever to turn a quiet, sober eye to California, my home state. There, among the raisins, peaches and lettuce, the people of California voted overwhelmingly to deny their fellow Californians basic equal rights while, at the same time, making it possible for Barack Obama to become President. Ironic, isn't it?

Basically, Prop 8 tells every gay person in California to suck it up and accept it: you will never have the same right or access to the same things to which I, my straight sister and straight brother in law have rights and access.

There. That's the Proposition in a nutshell.
(Come at me with your counter arguments trying to explain to the 'danger' of gay rights and not only will I call bullshit on all of it, I will ask you what made you hate gay people.)

Now there's been some talk about who's to blame for this vote. Was it black people? Was it Latinos? Was it black and/or Latino church folk? (We'll come back to that.)

Let's cut to the chase: it was straight people who tanked equal rights for gays in California. (Let that sink in a bit. We'll come back to that, too.)

Here's the thing about equal rights - they actually supercede religion and race and they do so because the idea behind equality and civil rights is quite simple:


I will repeat this often and loudly at whoever is puffing themselves into a self-righteous ball about why they voted for Prop 8:

Religion: you voted for Prop 8 because the Bible said so. Well, so what? We don't live in a theocracy and it's wrong for a portion of the population to be subjected to your narrow interpretation of the bible which should actually have no bearing on civic life. God will not send you to hell because you voted for something that gives Tony and Miguel the right to spousal healthcare benefits or visit one another in the hospital should Tony get hit by the RTD.

The 'Ick' Factor: you voted for Prop 8 because the idea of two women loving one another and exchanging vows in front of a judge skeeves you out. Again, so the frak what? Your personal, outdated and irrelevant homophobia just legally stripped an entire community of their basic civil rights which they should have because they're, you know - basic frakking human beings living in America.

The Race Thing: you're quite willing to vote for Obama but, lawd, that gay thing is what white folks do. Are you kidding me?? You are surrounded by gay people.

You sit in church, look up into the choir and know that Donny the pianist has been 'that way' for years. (Quiet as kept, you know big ol' flashy, stentorian Bishop So-And-So has been having liaisons with black men for years.)
You have a cousin who has brought her slightly butchy 'roommate' to every family reunion and you know they're not just sharing an apartment to save on rent.
You have heard stories of folks in your family who've never married or remarried after a spouse has died, but are suddenly quite comfortable moving in with their life-long same sex best friend - and you know it's not just about companionship.
You go to all the fests in Leimert Park and you see the all the gay men with their babies and their 'girlfriends' and you KNOW those men aren't straight.

And you know what? Luther - gay! Langston - gay! Snoop (on The Wire) - gay! My aunt Diane - totally gay (which I just found out about last year from my dad who was also caught by surprise)!

What the hell, my people?!
Y'all had best get off your high horses about civil rights and demanding to hear bullshit arguments to 'convince' you that gay people need the same rights as you. Who do we think we are? We do not own the patent on civil rights. Ol' Miss Sally mighta marched with Dr. King but Ol' Miss Sally has NO right to use Dr. King's fight to emancipate black folk to justify keeping gay people in a cage built by her cultural misunderstanding of what 'the gays' do, are like or really want.

You know what gay people want? What you and I have. Freedom. Autonomy. Dignity. The privilege to introduce the person they love to a room full of people as their spouse. They want to fulfill a human desire to create a family and have that family be protected just as your family is protected. They want what we have and we should give it to them.

Why? Because we took it away from them!

This brings me back to STRAIGHT PEOPLE tanking this thing for the gays. White, black, latino or asian - a majority of the heteros in California voted for this shit. Why? Because we are drowning in our straight privilege and are, deep down, unrepentant homophobes. We don't like gay people. Apparently, we mustt hate them, despite working with gay people, socializing with gay people and having gay people in our family. We might as well have just pinned a great big pink triangle on them.

And until we share some of this burden and hold our fellow straight breeders accountable for their homophobia, gay people will never get what they deserve - what we have.

(Why I'm using 'we:' we, even as self-identified friends to the gays, are implicated in this travesty. Clearly, if we straight people who support gay rights because we know and love gay friends and family or because we know it's the right thing to do or because we are (gag) 'tolerant' - clearly we didn't do enough. Our gay-hating friends, acquaintances, neighbors and family voted for this shit because we didn't call them out on this crap long before this stupid Proposition even got on the ballot.

The burden to change the paradigm of hatred and bigotry shouldn't fall entirely on the community that's oppressed by it; it should be shared equally by the privileged who must sacrifice something in order to see the promised land of equal rights for all.)

So go on. Celebrate voting for Obama and 'change.'
Deep down we straight folks are oozing with the same old bullshit tar of hypocrisy.

[A Private Note to Richard:
Yes, I do think anal sex is healthy, especially when done with respect, with someone you trust and/or love, with plenty of lube, as well as a condom.

In fact, Lawrence v. Texas pretty much guarantees that any and all enjoyment of butt sex is private and outside of the reach of the law. In fact, beyond butt sex, Lawrence v. Texas also upholds that the liberty given to us in the Constitution pretty much covers gay folks' freedom to enter into relationships without fear of reprisal or criminal prosecution, whether or not such a relationship has legal recognition. You know - like STRAIGHT PEOPLE. Thanks for asking.]


Songbird said...

Well, you rock, ding.

ding said...

i'm officially in 'high dudgeon.'

Anonymous said...

Girlllll... well you know the black folks voted for BO because he was black!! And, you know a lot of folks voted for BO because you know we don't want no more Republicans in office. Why vote against rights for gays because that is a little different and hard to digest for some, they want a differnt law for gays something that does not make them question certain things like themselves, for some it is moral. Some say they do not want their pastors censored in the pulpits.

just my two pennies

Art said...

This is one of the best things I've seen you write, D. I loved it. You in High Dudgeon = Me in heaven.
You've really got to figure out a way to make some cash off of your writing talents.

By the way, on the Rahm thing, whenever I hear his name, all I can think of is this.


Anonymous said...

Uhmm...civil rights gave African Americans the right to vote, It is called the Voting Act of 1964. The gay community are trying to imposed upon the people that they are fighting the way the blacks did in the civil rights movement of the 60's. My black friends are insulted by that since some of them had grand parents who fought in that march and to see white males now demanding rights,base on wanting civil union is not the same. Well there is no comparison between been bit by dogs, hosed, people calling you nig over and over and being spit upon and people thinking your not human.The gay community has the freedom to protest freely and have the wonderful support from individuals such as yourself.


Anonymous said... one cares if someone wants to be gay, people cannot choose for other people or regulate morality, however people can tell you what they support and stand up for what they believe in though. We live in a democracy free to say and do what we want within the laws that govern this land, right?


Art said...

Yup, we live in a democracy, but no, you're not free to do want if it abrogates the civil rights of someone else. Discriminating against gay people by not allowing them the same marriage and parental rights granted to heterosexuals is an unjust infringement on their freedom. Ding is right on this - read the Lawrence v. Texas decision, for it's the best statement on how civil rights for gays and lesbians stands in the best constitutional traditions of this country.


ding said...

'Umm', well bridget if you knew history a little better you'd know that under the constitution african americans actually were given the right to vote well before the civil rights era and what they were fighting for was equal application of an already existent law as well as the end of 'seperate but eqal' bullshit discrimination- which is exactly what the gay community wants.

Equal protection and equal application of the law.

Frankly, individuality has nothing to do with civil rughts. Just face it _ you hate gay people or you'd see that, as citizens of the united states, they should enjoy the exact same, basic contitutional rights (as well as civil rights) the rest of us do.

(And the fear about 'forcing' clergy to do anything? What red herring bullshit. Who wants to be married by an unwilling homophobe? Perhaps its best if we in this country took religion completely out of the process of getting hitched and just made it a civic process for thosw who wished it instead of connecting the church to it. Oh, wait- everyone voted against that because they think their religion is more important than civil rughts!)

Nice try bridget but come back when you can explain why the Constitution is just for straight folks.

Anonymous said...

I think you misunderstood what I wrote or I wrote it wrong. I am not homophobe. No not all. What I have a problem with is how people are interperting what is right and wrong. Why do we need to redefine marriage between a man and a woman? If gays want a law so that their partner would be able to leave them the same benefits as a married spouse would do, and certain other rights like what are benefits to married people, then put that law in action. You will see the vote changing amongst all groups. This is a discussion I am having with gays and straights, and african americans, all done in peace and love I may add.

The Voting Act 1964 orginally had to do with the southern states and of course it has been admended since that time and I beleive it was admended for the purpose of blacks not to be discrimnated against when voting. Yes blacks had the right to vote way before it, but it was not fair voting. Remember the leaps african americans had to make just to vote???? That is not the same with gays. No way!


What race are you?

Anonymous said...

The Civil Rights Act of 1964, which required equal access to public places and outlawed discrimination in employment, was a major victory of the black freedom struggle, but the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was its crowning achievement. The 1965 Act suspended literacy tests and other voter tests and authorized federal supervision of voter registration in states and individual voting districts where such tests were being used. African Americans who had been barred from registering to vote finally had an alternative to the courts. If voting discrimination occurred, the 1965 Act authorized the attorney general to send federal examiners to replace local registrars.

ding said...

i beg pardon then if i misread you.

gays aren't asking for any kind of redifinition. they want exactly what you and i have, but we (as a society) have decided they can't have it because we don't approve of who they love.

let me repeat: they want *exactly* what we have. they aren't asking for anything more than that. they aren't asking for a redefinition of marriage; they want to get married.

just like we get married.
it's exactly the same thing.

how does marriage or committed partnership work for us straights?

we say this is my wife/husband. they want to say that, too.
we say on our taxes that we can file jointly with our spouse. they want that, too.
we can travel all over this country and be recognized as a married couple. they want that, too.
we can get death benefits if our loved one dies. they want that, too.
we want to raise a family as we see fit. they want that, too.

so why can't they?

is what we have - our rights and access to equal protection and due process - connected to morality?

no. our constitution says nothing about people having liberty only if they are 'moral' people. value judgments have nothing to do with rights.

so why can't they have it, too?

ding said...

Remember the leaps african americans had to make just to vote???? That is not the same with gays. No way!

So what are you saying here?
That because you think that gays haven't suffered the same way that African Americans have that they don't deserve what we have?

That's bullshit. Read gay cultural history; read about their treatment in this country. Look at how they're being treated now!

It's the 21st century and we straight folks are still looking at gay folks like they're pariahs! They can't adopt, they can't teach our kids, they can't come out on TV, they can't run for office, they can't get married!

Who are we still treating like this in this country? We even let illegal immigrants become citizens but we can't let folks born here get married because we don't like where they're putting their dicks?

Come on!
It's not they who have the issue, but we have it. We're the ones who can't let our issues go and keep them away from the rights they, as American citizens, should have.

This fight for civil rights has never been about sex - it's about citizenship.

If you believe gay people are American citizens just like the rest of us - then why can't they have the same protections and privileges as other Americans?

And I'm biracial, btw: African American and Filipina. If that means anything.

king of pants said...

Hey there!

This is going to get uglier before it gets better, especially if what I am hearing about the n-word being bandied about in protests. Go ahead, protesters, blame the African-Americans. This can only end well.

I'd offer sympathy, but I live in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is already old hat and the married couples I know are as terribly boring as the dull straight marrieds I know. I've never seen so man people fighting so hard for the right to be completely dull. ;)

(Yes, yes, I know all about the rights, and have the same outrage that basic rights can be denied via direct democracy, but my dudgeon is somewhat lacking in this regard.)

king of pants said...

That should read "what I hear about the n-word being bandied about in protests is true."

ding said...

@King of Pants:

I know. Marriage - who needs it?

If I, who thinks marriage is a patriarchal bullshit social construct that rarely benefits the woman in it, can get married but gays, who desperately believe in marriage and want it, can't (even though marriage is a bullshit social construct blah blah blah) then something is seriously wrong.

As for the N-word being shouted in protests, y'all know that's wrong and isn't really going to help public relations outreach into a community that needs it.

Focusing on brown communities is taking the eye off the big picture: STRAIGHT PEOPLE voted for Prop 8.

The gay community's issue shouldn't be with one particular group (though clearly particular groups need deal better with their own ignored gay community within it) but with the straight community as a whole.

Homophobia and ignorance sunk marriage rights in California. So it should be back to the drawing board instead of setting the drawing board on fire and throwing racial epithets around.

I don't know who's going to spearhead the fight to overturn Prop 8 and realign the public education on this issue but whoever they are, they better start thinking strategically and go back to the basics of grassroots organizing.

Anonymous said...

Prop 8 cannot be overturned. Marriage is a construct? Okay, you're gay which is fine, obviously gays want to be married for some reason other than seeing as a construct, Ding!

Focusing on brown people is a waste of time, and the comparison on civil rights, no and no and no.

Protesting outside the Morman church, what next, the christian churches, yep!
and you still don't see my point? There is a reason why people voted yes, for these very same reasons. Gays want to redefined the definition of what marriage is and that IS the problem although they are not outwardly admitting to it.

I'm still not convince and will never deny certain rights to any gay person.

This is a hard one because I am hearing from both sides of the issue.


ding said...

Oh, Bridget.
If you'd read any of my archives you'd see that I am not gay. I'm thoroughly straight and like all sorts of things having to do with cock. So there.

I know why people voted for Prop 8 and it's called bigotry and homophobia.

Your basic misreading of what civil rights are, who should get them and why marriage equality is important as a social justice issue is sad and, frankly, leading us in circles.

Good luck on that 'both sides' thing when it's clear you don't believe in civil rights for everyone at all - just straight Christians, it seems.

Thanks for stopping by.

ding said...

And it can be overturned, especially if any of the legal challenges to it lead to it being found - what?



Anonymous said...

Californias voted they way they view marriage;between a man and a woman.
Straight christians? lol, what christians have to do with this?

You don't have to convince me what you like.

I'm done.



ding said...

thanks for playing.

Anonymous said...

I just post a note above- The people of my state voted not to let marriage between memebers of the same sex, if they want rights in to protect their civil unions then i'm with that.


ding said...

so why should other people's homophobia and religious intolerance take away civil rights from gay people again?

really. explain that to me.

don't explain how religion works; i know that.

explain who or what gives Californians the right to say who gets civil rights and who doesn't?

Anonymous said...

Ding??? I just found your name,

Your questions are very easy to understand, people exercised that right to vote. They voted for prop 8.

I friend brought up this, no one protested when Barack Obama won the election and I'm sure a lot of people did not want him in. The people spoke by voting him in. See, simple.

ding said...

They also voted to extend protections to chickens and other animals. Saying that folks were just exercising their right to vote discounts what values (and knowledge) informed their voting beyong the mere doltish 'uh, I'm going to vote.'

You're either being deliberately obtuse or you're not understanding what I'm asking.

So let me rephrase:
How can you justify demonstrating with your vote that you think equal protection and constitutional rights only extend to straight people?

This is my only question and, so far, no one's been able to answer it.

Anonymous said...

Because maybe people think that there is something wrong with gays wanting "marriage", which means they are trying to change the way otherse look at "marriage", between a man and a woman? A thought. You mentioned the religious people, okay, I assummed that ones faith plays a part in how they vote.


ding said...

Do you see the illogic in that?

There's a huge gap in logic when you say gays wanting to be in legally recognized committed relationships is forcing someone else to redefine legally recognized committed relationships.

It's the SAME THING.

The gay community wants the exact same kind of marriage you have.

No more; no less.

What we straight people have, they want.

There's no redefinition involved at all.

ding said...
This comment has been removed by the author.