Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Stop the Hate! Discrimination and the upcoming election

I was really hoping not to do another political post before the election, but something has been bothering me so much over the past few weeks that I feel compelled to spit it out.

This is likely the most hotly contested presidential election in American history. I think we can all agree on that, even if we Americans can't agree on anything else. But there are other issues that are being decided in this election, and one of the most highly debated and divisive issues comes out of my home state of California - Proposition 8. This is the proposition that seeks to eliminate the ruling of the California Supreme Court last May, that ruled that it is illegal to discriminate against any couple seeking to be married based upon their sex. You know... (whispers)... gay marriage.

I must warn you that I don't intend to offend anyone here who has a strong belief in Christianity. Indeed, I believe that the proponents of this proposition are behaving in the most un-Christianlike manner I could imagine. So I mean no offense to anyone, and I don't approach this as a Jew, a democrat, or any other type of person, except one who would hope for equal rights for all. One who, while I don't remember it personally, remembers learning about the difficulties faced by women when they tried to get the right to vote, and by blacks when they tried to get the right to vote, or by both in even attempting to get the right to own land, for crap's sake. And although I said I don't approach this issue as a Jew (and I don't), I know what it is like to be the object of someone's hate, simply because of who you are. Usually, this occurs out of ignorance. Usually it can be brushed off. Occasionally, I feel the urge to speak out, to educate, or simply to rant and rave at the offenders out of sheer frustration, anger, or plain old hurt.

I've often said that I live in the bible belt of Southern California, and never has it been more evident than during this election season. I've never felt more like a fish out of water. You can't stop at a red light without being swarmed by people on all 4 corners holding Yes on Prop 8 signs and yelling at me in order to sway my vote. The signs are on almost every lawn in my neighborhood and in every neighborhood in my city. I feel overrun with all the yellow (the signs are all yellow).

More and more, the ads are on the radio every minute or two, seeking to convince me that my children will be taught in school that marriages are all about a daddy and a daddy - indeed, that the schools will be compelled to teach this. Books about the King & the King will be mandatory reading. Commercials showing little girls about 6 years old coming home asking mommy about this are shown on TV, saying they learned it in school. Excuse me... my kids aren't taught about marriage in any form in school now - what makes me think that all of a sudden they will be taught about gay marriage? And so what if they are? Maybe if we taught about homosexuality in school from a young age, there wouldn't be such homophobia and stigma in the world. Much in the same way we teach about racism, and how all races are equal, perhaps we should be teaching that all people are equal, regardless of their genetic makeup. I don't know, just a thought.

The proponents of this proposition are so mired in their religious self-righteousness all in the name of Jesus, that they forget that the issue is strictly about discrimination. We don't discriminate. Let me rephrase that. We don't legislate discrimination any longer.

People walk around with their WWJD paraphernalia all over my town, and frankly, here's my thought on that. Mary Carves the Chicken, Bob's band, has a song on their first CD called Death of a Gay Waiter that has a verse in it that is fitting and proper, in my opinion. It goes like this:
"Hey You, You wanna be a hero
Love your fellow human beings
You - who call yourselves Christians
Sitting in your judgement seats
Remember - Jesus never bashed a homo
Jesus never hurt nobody
Jesus never put nobody down."

That's what Jesus would do. Bob saw a sign in town today that said "WWJD? He'd Vote NO on Prop 8!" I urge you to visit No on Prop 8 to find out more. And as I said, no offense meant, except to those who mean to offend.

Death of a Gay Waiter - Mary Carves The Chicken

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6 People Gabbed:

Wendy said...

I'm constantly reminding people back home that not all Californians are liberal hippies. I also live in a highly conservative area of the state, and ugh - getting bombarded with the yellow just like you are!

The "teaching kids about the gays" in school thing is also getting on my last good nerve. You know what the real "fear" is? That straight parents will be forced to talk to their own children! They don't want little Johnny asking them on Parents' Night why his friend Joe brought two Daddies with him....

Rowena said...

Today I learned a valuable lesson from my 12 year old nephew today and it was that I need to speak up for my beliefs. He did an admirable job of standing up for his beliefs and I feel that I should learn from his example and do the same here. I can respect you guys for your beliefs and your opinion but I disagree with you, Wendy.

I have no reservations about talking to my daughter about any of this but I feel that it should be MY job to teach her about the world. It's MY job to teach her about morals and what's right and what's wrong and I'm sorry but I don't think my 6 year old nephew should have to learn about any of this in school or about any of this right now.

All of my kids (and by this I mean, my daughter and all of my nieces and nephews that I have helped care for) are taught to be nice to EVERYONE, not just boys, not just girls, not just who they like and who they don't like, but to be nice to EVERYONE. To respect EVERYONE.

But we also believe that homosexuality is a sin.

So where does that leave us? As the bad people who can't get ourselves because we stand up for what we believe in?

My feelings is this shouldn't be something they learn at school and they said that this prop has nothing to do with what will be taught in school, that it won't be taught in school and yet we've got first graders going to a lesbian wedding for their teacher because it was a teachable moment then we've got Coming Out day at school and yet it has nothing to do with schools? That's where my worry lies.

I'm not on board with someone else educating my child on something that should be taught by me. I don't teach my daughter to hate anyone be them black, gay, whatever and I'm confident that she knows this. She's got a good heart as do I, but just because I'm nice and tolerant doesn't mean that I agree with same sex marriages.

I just wish that it was okay to agree to disagree and I wish that people would stop stealing my neighbors Yes on 8 sign. It's weird because nobody has touched our Yes on 8 sign but the older couple that lives next door to us? Their sign is forever taken and found shredded at the end of our street. I guess they're scared of all the big brown people on the street. *shrugs*

And this whole Prop has people on both sides shoving their beliefs in everyone's faces. We got a call from my aunt in the bay area who said that her car was hit and kicked and had things thrown at on her way in to do a session at the temple out there, so I feel your frustration because I'm seeing it on both sides.

Wendy said...

I can totally see your point. But the sad truth is that not every parent is as good of a parent as you are. I've heard too many horror stories from My Sister The High School English Teacher regarding some of her students who have no concept of personal responsibility and consequences. And instead of their know actually "parenting"...they make excuses or blame the teacher. Sigh.

I'm with Lori on this - I don't agree with passing legislation that discriminates - but for that matter I don't think the government should have a darn thing to do with marriage anyway. Gay or straight. But that's a whole other ball of wax. In a nutshell, I just like the government to stay the heck out of my personal life as much as humanly possible.....

Lori said...

we've got first graders going to a lesbian wedding for their teacher because it was a teachable moment

Wena, I don't think this is school curriculum. I think this is frankly just bad judgement. I wouldn't want my child going to this without me, frankly, and especially, I wouldn't want them going in the first grade, agreed. The teacher showed incredibly bad judgement, IMO, and it should be up to the school to discipline her for that.

My concern here is that we cross the line into the separation of church and state, because this is an issue that is based upon religious beliefs. And then what comes next? I posted over at Living in the House of Testosterone about the discussion that we had with Jeff, which was that not so long ago, his dad and I wouldn't have been allowed to marry in a whole lot of places because he's Catholic and I'm Jewish. If you wanted to marry a white guy, you wouldn't be allowed to marry him not too long ago. Just because some people thought it was a sin. That's just not right. We can't base discriminatory legislation on religious beliefs, IMO.

I completely agree with you, however, that it is the parent's right, and DUTY, to pass down morals, and a sense of right and wrong to their children based on their personal beliefs and the law. It's not the school system's responsibility to teach this, only to reinforce the good character building that is taught in the home. I also believe that if the school wants to teach anything about this subject, it's ok for them to treat it like sex ed. I have to sign a permission slip for sex ed in elementary school and middle school (for "the movies", LOL).

I also think it sucks that people are defacing the signs in your neighbor's yard. Whether I agree with them or not, it's every person's right to voice their opinions.

Wendy said...

Exactly what Lori said. That's exactly what I wanted to say - but dang, my brain is toast.

Lauren Dane said...

Equal protection means that the laws are applied to all citizens equally in the absence of extenuating circumstances (for example age - those under 18 can't enter into enforceable contracts, felons not being able to hold certain jobs, etc).

Marriage is not a religious institution. It's administered by the goverment and for most of human history it has been about distribution of property and power and the parentage and responsibility for offspring. The church doesn't handle marriage licenses, the county does. The church doesn't handle divorces, the civil courts do. The church doesn't decide fitness for marriage either. This is the government's provenance. As such, two men wanting to be married should be the same as a man and a woman. The law should be applied equally.

Whether or not an individual person feels a certain way about it due to religion isn't at issue - this isn't a case of what people feel. It's about the law.

I certainly think there's room for people to raise their children with their religious beliefs and for the law to still be constitutional.