Last week, as the Democrats celebrated a huge victory throughout the nation with the election of 44th President Barack Obama, they lost another battle in California, Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas. Barack Obama may have succeeded in uniting the people, but those who voted for the passing of Proposition 8 in California only succeeded in dividing us.
With the passing of Proposition 8, plus similar bans on same-sex marriage in Florida and Arizona, the gay and lesbian community has been dealt a blow that will prove hard to recover from. Three state marriage bans, plus a new law prohibiting adoption for gay couples in Arkansas, are not only an attack on this community; they’re an attack on an American’s civil rights.
What struck me most about this ruling in California was just who was behind it. I first heard about the proposition several months ago, when high-profile celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg had donated their money and celebrity to fight it. At first, it seemed there was no chance it could possibly pass, with California’s reputation as a liberal-haven and such star power against it.
As the polls closed and the race seemed too close to call, however, I paid a visit to the website to take in the other side’s viewpoint. Upon first logging on, the visitor is greeted with large banner proclaiming, “Yes on Proposition 8: Restoring Marriage and Protecting California Children.” My only question is, protecting California children from what? From knowing that the world is full of love of all kinds – a love that knows no color, creed, race, social class, or gender? From knowing that everyone in the country is equal when it comes to marriage, regardless of sexual orientation?
The website states specifically that their decision to back this proposition is “not an attack on gay couples,” and “does not take away the rights that same-sex couples already have under California’s domestic partner law.” But if the passing of a proposition discriminating against a specific group of people is not an attack, than what motivation is behind it? The Dictionary definition of attack is “to begin hostilities against, start an offensive against.” If one group of people rising up to tell a minority group of people what they can and cannot do is not an attack, it is at least certainly not an embrace.
The story of one California couple struck me as particularly disheartening.
Interviewed in the Sacramento Bee, Mormon couple Pam and Rick Patterson explains their reasoning behind their donation of $50,000 to support Proposition 8. Now, this hefty figure would put a dent into anyone’s bank account in today’s economy, but there’s one thing predominantly different about the Patterson’s – they have five children. When asked why they chose to donate instead of invest the money into other aspects of their lives, Pam responded “It was a decision we made very prayerfully and carefully.”
There’s only part of that quote I have a problem with. I understand that the decision was made carefully, as if I had five children, I would be too worried about their future college bills to leave a dime unaccounted for. But a decision made prayerfully? I have respect for people of faith; it provides a crucial support-system to their lives that some people will search forever for. But when one person’s faith begins to affect another’s, the issue becomes much bigger than what God you worship. To base a decision affecting this many people’s lives, all on what you believe your God would believe, not only supersedes the concept of separation of church and state, it highlights two fundamentally different groups of people – those who promote love and those who promote hate. Now, the only question left is, which one do you want to belong to?