Thursday, November 6, 2008

some cliche about the battle and the war

I spent all of yesterday in mourning. I had planned on writing a big ol' entry on my work with No on 8, complete with refutations of Yes's arguments. However, I've come up with something much more succinct. That entry is in the works, but right now, I do have a few points to make.

First of all, kudos to the city of Irvine for being, out of all the cities in Orange County, the only to have a majority No on 8. It surprised me almost more than Obama's win surprised me.*

Secondly, I have good reason to assert that voter confusion played a big role in 8's small margin of victory. Many voters to whom I spoke in the educated, white, conservative Huntington Beach neighborhood in which I volunteered on Election Day were confused -- imagine how bad it could have been for voters who are less educated and of lower socio-economic status. So many voters simply follow a voter's guide and do not ever read the actual text of propositions. The information assessed on the part of average voter in making his or her decision about voting usually consists of the number of signs he or she sees, the often inflammatory ads broadcasted on television and radio, and his or her own personal tastes and distastes -- in other words, the situation is utterly appalling. I am not even referring to the twists on truth favored by some of Yes on 8's proponents, I am referring to pure confusion as in what Yes or No on 8 means in the purely legislative sense, which manifests in two ways. Some people think that gay marriage is the change to the California Constitution, whilst in reality, 8 is new legislation that changes the current state of affairs to favor heterosexuals. The other way is that some people were called by deceptive Yes on 8ers who told them to vote Yes on 8 when they responded that they were for gay marriage. Double negatives really are confusing.

Thirdly, the entire point of a constitution is to protect minorities from being handled rough-shod by the tyranny of the majority. A simple vote is not what is required to change it -- there has to be a super-majority as well as approval by the state congress. 8 is being challenged on these legal grounds.

Fourthly, 8 is not a "restoration to traditional marriage" and actually hurts the cause of families. The tradition of marriage, in the vast majority of human society, was founded to ensure paternity in children and to create a system in which to exchange women, who were considered property. Additionally, marriage helped to keep religions stocked with new members, as it was unthinkable to marry outside one's community and religion and thus marriages (in the vast majority of cases) produced people of the same faith as their parents. Marriage has since evolved into a contract between two people and the state, which is why interracial, interreligious, and intercommunity marriage is allowed. Marriage in the United States is a secular affair in which even those without a religion can participate; the only people not allowed are couples who happen to be of the same biological sex. The gay community is often criticized for being promiscuous, flamboyant, juvenile, and rash. Much of this stems from the fact that people who are LGBT do not have the option of a more mainstream lifestyle, i.e. "settling down"; not allowing them to marry essentially forces them into the fringes again.

This brings me to my fifth and final political point. Whether 8 is allowed to be instated or not is almost irrelevant in the grand scheme of things. Something to bring it down can be a proposition for the next election, which gives those on the side of equality time to educate voters as well as simplifies voting (Yes for agreeing with equal rights, No if you disagree). If that fails, well, the fight for rights will never end and will hopefully bleed the intruding Utah Mormon church of the funds on which they pay no taxes (don't even get me started on that). On another topic, We have a Democratic majority congress, which hopefully means that another fight for rights will be more successful. I am referring to equality in hiring (and firing). It's legal in 30 states to fire someone for being gay, and the Human Rights Campaign is actively working to make that history. Additionally, 8 might be found to be in violation of the 14th Amendment, which prohibits targeting minority groups for discrimination.

Finally, I will breathe in a nice hint of humanity. Whatever those who want legislate based on personal distaste and ancient religious texts do, human nature will win out. Non-hetero people will continue to reproduce and adopt (if not in a marriage if 8 wins) and their kids will turn out to be the strongest sort of Ally -- ones with personal and loving links -- to the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgendered) community. Additionally, those Ally kids will grow up next to kids who are the products of "traditional" marriage, and 10-20% of kids from either background equally will grow up to be LGBT themselves. More and more people are choosing to live out of the closet, and in a manner authentic to themselves instead of conforming to straight-created gay stereotypes. I predict that the day is coming soon where everyone will have a friend, neighbor, loved one, teacher, employer, or coworker who not only is LGBT or the product of an LGBT family, but is "normal" but for that part of their life. Exposure to good role models and examples always helps with such causes that relate to minorities.

So again, that cliche about the battle's outcome versus that of the war. 8 has simply hardened my stance and reactivated my long-dead love of politics and activism. I am planning on working, volunteering, and doing all that I can to promote the recognition of the humanity of non-straight people. Someday, I'll see you in a more tolerant world.

* I'll admit it, I was a complete cynic about Obama's chances until I heard McCain's concession speech. I knew about Obama's presidential aspirations long before the election, but dismissed him because he, like me, is a non-white kid with Muslim-ish origins, a few years of life abroad under his belt, at least one immigrant parent, and a very funny, hard-to-spell-and-pronounce, terrorist-sounding name. Even when pre-election polls showed him in the lead, I believed in the Bradley effect and was sure that people's secret racism would come out in the privacy of the voting booth. I was, mercifully, quite wrong. I suppose that I quite underestimate my fellow Americans sometimes.