Friday, August 06, 2010

A New American Hero

I've been reading many news articles about California's U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's recent overturning of Proposition 8, the ban on same-sex marriages. I'll state right now, up front, that I find Walker to be a true hero. His arguments are well thought out and articulated and nail the situation on the head. Good on him. Proposition 8 is not only mean-spirited and an unapologetic expression of homophobia which should cause all of those who voted in favor of it to hang their heads in shame for such malice toward their fellow human beings, it was truly pointless. As Judge Walker stated, this Proposition benefits no one in any proven way and serves only to validate the delusional superiority its proponents obviously feel.

Seriously, I would love to know exactly what Prop 8 folks think to gain by this law. Are they worried that if gay people can marry, somehow they will get less of the pie? Will their homes be taken from them? Will their children starve? Will they lose their jobs, will they begin to bald, will their pets run away and never come home? Will the love that they feel for their own spouse and vice versa disappear in a puff of smoke or become meaningless? Do they think that love and marriage are a limited commodity and if gay people are allowed to take their fair share, there will be less to go around for the rest of us? Like, if ten same-sex couples get married, that means that ten hetero couples can't? How very self-interested and egomaniacal of them.

I have yet to read a single pro-Prop 8 viewpoint that in any way explains why or how approval of same-sex marriage affects traditionally married people. Or why it's any of their business in the first place. Rather than putting so much money, energy, ire and hair-rending over whether two guys or two girls get married, an event that can surely have no direct affect on their lives in any way, why don't all of those Prop 8 cheerleaders shake their pom poms over the disgraceful state of America's educational system or solving the growing energy crisis. Why not do something that will actually result in positive change for everyone involved?

Too, I would say to those hetero-married couples who spew their propaganda about Prop 8 being the way to maintain the sacredness of marriage, once you all get it 100% perfect, then I'll listen to what you have to say. When all hetero marriages never end in divorce, when there is never any spousal or child abuse or neglect, when hetero-couple children all get perfect grades, never get into trouble, and go off to college to become perfect citizens of the world, when there is no alcohol or drug abuse, no cheating, no murder/suicides found within any hetero marriage, then I think it's fair that we let them determine what is necessary to make a perfect, socially desirable union between two consenting people. Until that time, stop throwing rocks around your glass houses.

What really strikes me in everything I read is pro-Prop 8 people who make the argument that this ban was "desired" by the majority as proven by its passing after a democratic vote, therefore no judge should have the power to overturn what the majority so obviously wanted. To which I say, wha - TF? I'm sorry, what country is this that we live in? United States of the Taliban where the morals of some can be inflicted on the whole by virtue of enough bullying?

First of all, people seem to be forgetting that America is not a true Democracy but rather a Republic (and thank god for that). In order to protect individuals and minority groups from the Tyranny of the Majority, the Founding Fathers put a lot of thought and planning into how to structure our government so that a large group of people could not inflict whatever they wanted on everybody else. You can find a very good (and highly detailed) description of the differences between Democracy and a Republic here, but I for one send up an endless litany of thank yous to those old fogeys of The First Big Thirteen for getting it right.

If the whine argument of "that's what the majority wanted" held any validity, then by extension the Southern Baptist Convention could demand that the entire state of Mississippi - where it is the majority religion - convert to their belief system and, if they rallied every one of their eligible voting members, could win a "popular" vote in order to get its way. Except, dang, there's that whole pesky right guaranteed in the Constitution for religious freedom. Heck, maybe all of the hardcore fundamentalist might actually be a majority in the entire country and could put to a vote the overturning of that whole Freedom of Religion thing and, by winning that majority vote, make sure that we all become god fearing Christians.

My point is that you cannot vote on fundamental rights. That's why America is such a great place to live, a model to many countries and a place where we all brag about our liberties and freedoms. Just because a whole bunch of people want to inflict their morals and beliefs on everyone doesn't mean it will be so.

Even if none of the above were true, that "majority" is not, in truth, really a majority with any true accuracy. According to this snapshot from the US Census Bureau, the number of over-18 Californians (in other words, potential voters) is over 27 million. Only a tiny bit over half (13,743,177) of those people even voted on this issue, with the "winning majority" being a grand total of 7,001,084 people who wanted Prop 8 to pass. As far as my math skills tell me, 7 million people is not even close to half +1 of the voting population of California which would be the true majority. In truth, we all have absolutely no idea of what the "majority" wants or not since half of the people didn't bother to vote at all. All we can say with true certainty is that about 25% of Californians over the age of 18 supported Prop 8 enough to vote in favor of it. And since close to 24% of the people felt exactly the opposite, I think it's fair to to question the majority's real wishes.

Sidebar to say: Scary idea that 7 million people get to decide what rules all 27 million people must live by. A fabulous example of why it is critical to vote. Those who show up make the laws.

It will be interesting to watch this drama unfold. I'm hoping that by the time my kids have kids, homosexual people and couples will be regarded just as people. Because that's all they are. No more. Certainly no less.

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