Friday, November 7, 2008


Admit it – we have all been thinking a lot about social change lately. A black guy is moving into the White House. It is a thrilling moment of social advancement in our nation, but still there are those who don’t get it and probably never will. (Reference Pat Buchanan's March 21 column about how “grateful” blacks should be to whites. Poor Pat. Doesn’t get it.)

Not “getting it” is rearing its collective head now regarding gay marriage. You have to recognize the irony in Americans who open the door a little crack for some citizens, and then slam it shut to others. Are gays now to be the new blacks? And what should we do about Hispanics, the largest minority population in the U.S., now projected to triple in numbers by 2050, according to the Pew Hispanic Center? Largely marginalized at this moment, it seems as if we might want to rethink our traditional views of Hispanics. Oh, and what about those pesky senior citizens? That population is bound to double between now and 2050. Should we go ahead and just keep warehousing them in pretty retirement homes where bingo and bridge reign supreme?

Interestingly, running through every one of our minority populations are gay Americans. And somehow, because two people with the same reproductive organs fall in love, America has collectively decided to disenfranchise gay people. (Disenfranchise defined: To deprive of the rights of a citizen). How do you feel about that? Do you feel that you, as a citizen, have the right to deprive other citizens of their rights because of their sexual preference? Are your rights as a citizen in any way tied to your sexual organs? Let’s carry that just a step further: What if your rights as a citizen were challenged based on some things that you have done sexually in your life? Think back, real hard now. What if, all of a sudden, your citizenship was challenged because you had sex with someone other than your spouse? Or what if you were no longer allowed to visit your spouse in the hospital because of that one time you had sex with a prostitute? Or wait, what about this? What if you were turned down for military service because you like three-ways?

Okay, you get the point. What in the world does sex, sexuality or sexual behavior have to do with basic rights of citizenship? Nothing. Nothing at all. All the more reason to be shocked that voters dealt a crushing blow to gay rights activists in California, when they put a stop to gay marriage. And perhaps you also heard that amendments to ban gay marriage were approved in Arizona and Florida, and Arkansas voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Similar bans already existed in 27 states before Tuesday’s vote.But none of those states had already seen 18,000 gay couples united in marriage, as California had. California Attorney General Jerry Brown claims those couples will remain legally married. So, if you fell in love on time in California, you’re married. If you fell in love too late, you have no legal right to visit your partner in the hospital as he or she lies dying, if the blood relatives decide you’re persona non grata.

I am fully confident that in my lifetime gay Americans will be allowed to marry one another. Did you know only 41 years ago it was illegal for a black American to marry a white American? That changed with the landmark Supreme Court decision in Loving vs. Virginia, which finally legalized interracial marriage. That ruling struck down the Racial Integrity Act of 1924, a piece of legislation that made it a felony for white persons and non-white persons to marry. So, not until 1967 were blacks and whites legally allowed to marry. As I said earlier, social change moves very slowly in America.

The bigger issue is our ongoing dedication to intolerance in America. Intolerance is alive and thriving, legislatively speaking. The realization of how damaging intolerance can be was written all over the faces of grown men who cried uncontrollably when Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. The dangers of intolerance became painfully evident in 1998, in the face of young Matthew Shepard, or in the stories of any number of other young people who have been unmercifully beaten or stabbed or disfigured or killed.

So if you are opposed to gay marriage, perhaps you might reevaluate your position and put some focus on one of our favorite and most time-honored phrases of human characteristics – “the content of their character.”

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