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Thursday, August 5, 2010

Congratulations, California

I'm really a bit surprised this morning that the sex blogging world isn't more excited about this. If you don't know already, yesterday California district court Judge Vaughn Walker overturned the ridiculous and discriminatory California Proposition 8, on the basis that it was....well, ridiculous and discriminatory.

Okay, okay, so maybe he didn't say "ridiculous". But he did say discriminatory -- here, why don't I just let the Judge speak for himself. Here's what he wrote in his opinion:

"Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples."

I remember watching the November 2008 elections avidly, talking with friends via instant message and phone, watching the balance of the election tip slowly in the direction of hope and change, feeling proud that our country was taking a step to reclaiming the freedoms we'd had so curtailed during the years of the Bush administration. I remember thinking it was a good time to be an American, and that maybe things were going to work out pretty well after all.

And then California went and disappointed the hell out of me by passing Proposition 8, maybe not by a landslide, but by a comfortable margin.

I was utterly shocked. If there was any state in the 50 that embraced diversity, that stood as a shining example of the "melting pot" mentality, that didn't bat an eyelash at weirdness and the unconventional, California had to be it. Wasn't that right? They couldn't really be serious, could they? There was a lost sack of "get rid of this miserable excuse for a law" ballots somewhere and it just hadn't been brought in yet, right?

Apparently not. I have rarely been so dismayed and upset as I was when the Californians stood up as a state for discrimination and fear. I might have expected something like that from Bible Belt states like Alabama or Mississippi or Texas, but California? C'mon, people, you should know better.

Now under the terms of full disclosure I should remark that I've been as straight as an arrow most of my life (swinging a bit more towards the "bi" area in recent years...but I digress). The law doesn't affect me one whit, but I don't give a damn about that. I am a firm believer that the more we single people out as being different -- for their religion, for their skin color, for their sexual practices, for their personal proclivities of ANY kind -- the farther away we get from true unity.

We are well into the twenty-first century here. It's long past time that we got rid of antiquated notions, such as that of marriage being "only between a man and a woman". There was once a notion that cigarettes were good for pregnant women, too -- remember the slogan "Reach for a Lucky instead of a sweet"? -- but that shit went by the wayside pretty quickly when the lung cancer rates started shooting up, didn't it?

Astonishingly, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger appears to be mellowing out a bit; even though he was one of the defendants named in the lawsuit, he released a statement that he "respects" the decision and "would not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn" it. He also remarked that "[f]or the hundreds of thousands of Californians in gay and lesbian households who are managing their day-to-day lives, this decision affirms the full legal protections and safeguards I believe everyone deserves." Bravo, Ah-nuld! Even if you have previously vetoed two bills in favor of gay marriage, this is at least a step in the right direction. 

There's an endless cycle of appeals and counter-appeals and legal briefs and rulings ahead for Proposition 8. It's no doubt going to wind up at the Supreme Court, and given the Court's generally conservative nature, it may be re-overturned there....but at least for today, I can dream for a bit about true equality.

But it's only a small step. Same-sex couples are only legally able to marry in six lousy states: Massachusetts, Iowa, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Washington DC. Why don't you get with the program, the rest of you, eh?

True love doesn't know from boundaries. It's color blind. It disregards orientation. It breaks through religious and cultural and political barriers. It finds a way....and while the gay and lesbian couples in California have been "finding a way" while Prop 8 was on the books, finding alternatives in civil union ceremonies or clandestine marriages that are nevertheless unrecognized by the state, I'm delighted to see a blow struck on the side of right this time. If you're an adult and making your own decisions, you should have the right to have sex with -- and marry -- whoever you damned well please. That is my firm belief.

-- PB


frances said...

A-men! :-)

Naughty Lexi said...

I'm just a bit pessimistic about it because a) If California has such trouble, is there any hope for the rest of the country, and b) given the generally conservative nature of the Supreme Court, they will likely strike it down based on anti-Federalist grounds if for no other reason, which will then enshrine in common law the idea that it's perfectly okay for a state to make a law like this. Because that's really all this decision says: gays still can't get married, but it's unconstitutional to say that they can't. If it becomes constitutional to say they can't, then those states you're perhaps somewhat unfairly ranking as less with it than Cali might do just that. I care. A lot. I just don't know that I can be that enthusiastic about what is merely a battle in a long war.

The Panserbjørne said...

Frances: And another AMEN from the faithful here in this corner. Woo!

Lexi: Trust me -- as I said, I have exactly the same concerns. It's just nice to dream, for today at least. One small step in the right direction. Wasn't there a saying about a journey of a thousand miles, and all that?

-- PB

Naughty Lexi said...

"Step by step the longest march can be won. Many stones can form an arch; singly none. And by doing, what we will can be accomplished still. Drops of water turn a mill, singly none." It's better if you sing it, and it's somewhat bothering to think that the guy who wrote it was Chairman Mao, but it still makes me tear up a little. Or perhaps I could break into "We Shall Overcome," and then bawl like a baby. If my neck of the woods ever gets progressive enough to have protests, you can bet I'll be out there waving that rainbow flag and hugging people in the streets and holding hands, not for me, but for everyone. I'm not giving up. I'm just not celebrating yet.

The Panserbjørne said...

Lexi: Interesting, isn't it, how somebody so abhorrent could come up with such a profound statement? Maybe it was one of his speechwriters instead, though.

(My own speech of choice when I was writing that entry was King's "I Have a Dream" speech, by the way).

-- PB

Naughty Lexi said...

It's actually a translation of one of his poems. He was rather a talented amateur poet and calligrapher before he became Chairman; I've heard from people who know that he'd mastered a very difficult style of writing which looks like random squiggles to me, even after I've taken classes in Chinese calligraphy. The statement isn't out of character for him (it's partially in reference to the Long March), or indeed for any believer in permanent Communist revolution; you have to start somewhere. As I said, much better when sung. And Dr. King is a much more uplifting thing to be thinking about. Deep in my heart, I do believe we shall overcome some day. Now you've got me tearing up again.

nilla said...

beautifully and passionately written panser, tho i will point out that Massachusetts (the First State to approve gay marriage and my home state) isn't really "lousy"...laughing, coz i know what you meant to say!

btw my wife and i were the first to marry in my city 6 years ago...


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