I’ve been feeling this odd back-and-forth pull in federal politics versus state level politics (in my particular case – California’s). It seems as if – perhaps by chance – the progressive changes on the federal level is met by regressive issues on the state level. Though this post is really only focused on one aspect of that – marriage equality.
On the same day that President Obama was elected as our first African-American president, Proposition 8 passed in California – defining that marriage is between a man and a woman, thereby putting the status of all the gay couples who had married in limbo. Most recently, on the same day President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor as the potential first Hispanic Supreme Court judge, judges in California’s Supreme Court laid value to Prop 8 and its passing.
While I don’t honestly feel that Prop 8 will stay a fixture for long – the court did, after all, keep the marriages valid between gay couples pre-Proposition 8 – it still saddens me to see progress be ironically regressive.
I’ve been talking lately with friends about the state of relationships in America. We exist in a world where liberating sexual freedoms are a norm – where multiple partners, heterosexual commitments without marriage, 48-hour marriages, and children out of wedlock are just a part of life. Some people might not approve of them, but law doesn’t discriminate against them. Perhaps this stems from the fear of conversation, of dialogue, that people don’t want to face. It’s okay – so long as we don’t recognize it.
Regardless, while we seem to be at least trying to judge less and less by the color of a person’s skin on a national level and a person’s actions on a social level, the fact that two people love each other and want to make a commitment is denounced because they are the same gender doesn’t reveal us to be a progressive society. It reveals that we are still biased in matters that affect human beings within our fold.
Proposition 8 is a judgment call against a group of people. If we wanted to make it at an adequate reflection of what this state and this nation is supposed to founded upon, then we should take away the right of marriage from everyone. Logically, I understand the court could only do what it could with the voting of Proposition 8 (let’s face it, California Constitution is also a mess!), but I am disappointed in the California voters that let it pass in the first place.
In the call of right and wrong, we don’t often enough strip away the complicated details to bring it down to heart of the matter – genderless, colorless.
Julian Bond once stated, “The lessons of the civil rights movement of yesterday … is that sometimes the simplest of ordinary everyday acts, of taking a seat on a bus, of sitting down at a lunch counter, of applying for a marriage license, sometimes these can have extraordinary consequences, can change our world.” I’m a firm believer in this, because the most important question in this debate should have nothing to do with gender or color.
The question comes down to: should people have the right to marry? Answer that question without any clauses, any qualifiers because that is the heart of equal rights – in the simplicity, the everyday. My answer? Yes.