For those who don’t know, Proposition 8 is a California initiative that, if passed, would amend the California Constitution to say “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The California Supreme Court overturned the state’s ban on gay marriage back in May, declaring that the ban was unconstitutional (which it is). Proposition 8 would negate the victory the California Supreme Court made. After all, how can a ban on gay marriage be unconstitutional if it’s written into the Constitution?
I’m so frustrated by Proposition 8. I can’t believe there are still so many people (possibly a majority) who oppose gay marriage, and so fervently. I always thought California was progressive and liberal (maybe it’s because I grew up in LA), but I’m really scared that Proposition 8 will pass. I hear the Yes On 8 ads on TV and the radio all the time (even a Chinese language one), yet I’ve only seen the No On 8 ad on TV once. One of my neighbors down the street even has a Yes On 8 banner stuck into their lawn.
As part of researching this Proposition, I’ve tried to see things from other perspectives different from my own. From the legal perspective, the Yes On 8 group argues that banning gay marriage will not take away any rights that gays and lesbians already have. In particular, they argue that the benefits from a civil union or domestic partnership have the same legal rights and benefits as that of a marriage.
The question that I have with that argument is why define one set of rules for one group of people and another set for everyone else? From Wikipedia: “Separate but equal is a set phrase denoting the system of segregation that justifies giving different groups of people separate facilities or services with the declaration that the quality of each group’s public facilities remain equal.” Will we end up with restaurants that only serve heterosexuals? A drinking fountain only for homosexuals?
A different perspective (the “moral” one) is that gay marriage (as well as being gay in general) is “wrong and disgusting.” I read that phrase somewhere and I keep thinking about it. When I try to think logically in their shoes, my only explanation for this reasoning is that they cannot see outside their own eyes. I suppose for a straight guy, visualizing himself marrying another guy just doesn’t make sense. It feels wrong to him. Therefore, since being straight is normal, same sex marriage must be wrong (and somehow disgusting).
Being on the other side of that, I can’t imagine marrying a woman. It wouldn’t make sense to me. But that doesn’t mean I think straight marriage is wrong or disgusting. It’s just not for me. Being attracted to guys (emotionally, not just physically) is what is normal for me.
(Side note) Along this same logic is the notion that homosexuality is a choice. If people just took a step back and saw things through another person’s eyes, they’d understand that it’s not a choice. Personally, being gay was never my choice. When I was growing up, I prayed and cried so hard not to be gay. I wanted to be normal. What took me years of guilt, self hatred, and doubt to figure out is that I am normal.
I also don’t understand why so many people are against teaching kids acceptance toward gay people. In the same way that growing up in a heteronormative society didn’t turn me straight, a few conversations about and interactions with gay people are not going to turn our society’s youth into homosexuals. If your kid ends up being gay, wouldn’t it be better to have a society that accepts them? To have a state Constitution that protects all the rights that they should have?
In the end, I truly think Proposition 8 isn’t about gay marriage at all. Rather, it’s about everyone’s right (not privilege) to love and be loved. Voting NO on Proposition 8 would protect that right, which is certainly what I’m voting.