Saturday, January 24, 2009

Reassessing Prop 8

Everyone who supports equal marriage rights needs to read what Matt Foreman wrote for the Web site towleroad. He reiterates a point I have been trying to make, and that is we cannot achieve our goals if we ridicule and belittle those with strongly-held religious beliefs.

“Anyone who thinks it is easy to overcome homophobia that’s reinforced on a weekly basis from a person’s own house of worship doesn’t appreciate the role of religion in so many people’s lives or its pervasive use as a rationale for voting for Prop 8: an astonishing 94 percent of ‘Yes’ voters said ‘religion’ or the ‘Bible’ was most influential in deciding how to vote.”

Foreman also points out another issue marriage supporters need to address, and that is fellow gays who have no interest in gaining marriage rights. This is probably more of an issue among gay men than lesbians; nonetheless, we must recognize that there are those among us who see marriage as a negative rather than a positive for the community. To them, marriage represents the grand assimilation of our culture into the larger straight culture. And at the heart of this argument, I contend, is a desire for unrestricted sexual freedom. Straight people know that, and they will always exploit that.

But as Foreman points out, marriage is much more significant an issue for our community than merely attaining a package of privileges.

I have to agree with Foreman when he points out our strategy has been ineffective because we have clung to this notion that all we have to do is show ourselves without horns and people will love us. Hello!

“Think about friends who tell you their relatives are OK with them being gay or lesbian so long as they don’t talk about it,” Foreman writes. “Why do so many of us find it so incredibly hard to bring up gay issues with co-workers or when we visit our families over the holidays? Or when we do, what about the painful silence or uncomfortable glances that so often follow? Think your Aunt Jane – who’s only recently started to be nice to your partner -- is going to see a television ad and suddenly think, ‘Darn, I’ve been wrong all along about this gay marriage thing!’? Think again.”

It’s a very good piece and I strongly urge my readers to take a look at it.

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