And happy Monday to you

            I have been trying to figure out why I am so devastated by the passage of Proposition 8.  I am – and this may come as a shock to some of you – not gay.  I have no openly gay relatives.  Sure, I have gay friends, but this amendment does not affect me personally.  I can sympathize with my friends, but I am still legally married, after all.  Yet, for some reason, the fact that a majority of my fellow Californians decided to take away a basic right from a group of people has me waking up at night.

            Actually, the baby has me waking up at night, but I am thinking about Proposition 8 while I am feeding her.

            Then I reread an old post of mine, and it hit me.  This amendment is about hate.  My fellow Californians have voted to amend the state constitution to include hate. 

            I may fear another Holocaust, but until this passed, I hadn’t really realized that people need hate.  It is just as human an emotion as love.  Now, I get it.  We simply cannot evolve ourselves or educate ourselves out of hating one another.  It makes us feel better for someone else to be lesser.  And, if hate is a basic human emotion, it means I have it, and it means my kids have it.  It means love cannot conquer all, or even very much.

27 responses to “And happy Monday to you

  1. It’s less about hate than it is about fear. People fear change, they fear what is different. As things become more familiar they become more accepted. Interracial marriage is a perfect example.

    Over time gay marriage will become accepted and we’ll look back on those who voted against it and be unable to understand what the hell they were thinking.

    In MA, it’s just there. No one really even talks about it anymore and that’s just a couple of years ago.

    We don’t *need* hate, but we certainly have it. It’s a sad thing, and hate will never completely go away.

  2. hate and fear are so very powerful…it is sad that we allow these emotions take control and blind us from fairness, the power of identity and attitudes of love and respect.

    You have certainly hit the nail with the hammer on this post.

  3. It was such a horrid shock to swing from the elation of people voting with hope to seeing this bigoted, small-minded amendment pass. I honestly felt like the breath was knocked out of me – and no, I don’t live in California (any more) and no I’m not gay but damn it, I’m human and this one hurt.

  4. I am nervous here because of what I am going to say, but I am not sure you can say that the results of Proposition 8 are about one thing. I’m sure there are people who voted out of hatred. There always are. I am sure there are people who voted out of fear. I suspect that many of them did. But I think there is a fundamental worldview at play here that is not being addressed.

    In as much as I believe it is impossible to speak for an entire group of people, I would say that people who voted for Proposition 8 do not believe they are taking away a fundamental right. They don’t believe it is a right. They believe that God mandated marriage to be between a man and a woman.

    The fear comes in the form of concern that they are not going to be allowed maintain that belief, that their children are going to be taught it in school, and that their churches are not going to be allowed to refuse to marry same sex couples. (You can argue whether or not these are legitimate fears, but those are the fears.)

    I agree with Chris that it is just a matter of time before same sex marriage is allowed. I would hope, though, that one approach, which I have not seen mentioned anywhere, is to look at the concerns of the pro-Prop 8 side and see what dialog can occur. Can assurances be given that churches which don’t believe in same sex marriage will not be sued if they don’t perform them. (There are denominations that do and will.) As with any other health and sex topics in the school, can notice be given and parents allowed to opt out.

    Can two sides get together and talk about what they believe and why and see if there is a compromise? I was reading a quote by Edward R. Murrow that talked about about defending the right to be “wrong, unpopular, eccentric or unorthodox.” Unfortunately, I think the message on both sides is we will not listen to what you have to say. We are right. You are wrong. End of story.

    And sadly, some of the news articles I have read online have opponents of Prop. 8 saying some very hateful things. (And yes, I have no doubt that some of the pro 8 people have said hateful things, too.)

    For the record, I voted No on 8. I am probably a rarity in the conservative Christian community. I think the proposition is delaying the inevitable and forcing a Christian worldview on an unChristian world when what Christians want is to not have a different worldview forced on them. (I’m not sure that makes sense written, but it makes sense in my head.) However, I do take the more conservative view of marriage. I don’t believe that means I hate gay people. I don’t.

    (For the record, Emily, I do not feel as if you are communicated your passion for the subject and your frustration in an inappropriate way. The “hateful things” I mentioned earlier have been quotes in articles or on other blogs.)

    Sadly, I do not have much hope for honest conversation.

  5. I cannot wrap my head around prop 8. I feel like anyone who voted for it must have been confused for misinformed or …. I don’t know, something! I just don’t understand how any logical, thinking, feeling person could vote for it.

  6. It will come to pass, eventually. Some things just take a little longer. Who would have thought, even 20 years ago, that we would have an African-American president. Evolution is a slooooow process.

  7. I understand the feeling behind your post. It’s incredibly hard, this issue. I’m a conservative Christian (Catholic – gasp!), and I would have voted No in part because I think amendments to a constitution should not be frivolous or hasty (see how conservative my thinking is!). I also am sensitive to the gay community. My ultra-conservative husband and I have dear friend who is also the gay Godfather we chose for one of our sons, so this issue does not affect us but it isn’t exactly distant either.

    I think Mary above makes a lot of sense. I like what she said about the media coverage quoting hateful things from the “yes” side, when there are people who said yes for a reason other than hatefulness, that they could articulate intelligently if asked, and people who said “no” who did so for complex reasons.

    The world is confused. And going bankrupt so quickly that soon no one will be able to afford a wedding anyway ~snort~.

  8. I’m going to have to agree with Amy and Mary Lue. There are many of us who don’t feel any hate (or any negative feelings whatsoever) towards those impacted by this issue, but that also have good reasons for voting against legislation like this. It would be beneficial to all of us to have more conversation about it, so we can better understand our neighbor. Unfortunately, this kind of topic engenders a great deal of frustration, anger, and careless comments, without either side playing fair.
    It’s great that you’re blogging about it. I hope you can move on from believing that it’s about hate. For some people it may be, but you’d be surprised at the number of us for whom it’s not.
    As always, my best to you and yours.

  9. Steve Conner at The Independent comments on some recent research: “One major difference between love and hate appears to be in the fact that large parts of the cerebral cortex – associated with judgement and reasoning – become de-activated during love, whereas only a small area is deactivated in hate.”

    Back to the drawing board, then, Steve.

  10. I disagree. In spite of this contrary evidence, I believe that Love CAN and DOES conquer all.

    I am as disgusted as you are about Proposition 8, especially in California. I somehow thought people on the West coast were more enlightened than on the East coast. Guess I was wrong.

  11. Furthermore (more thoughts regarding your post)…

    I don’t believe LOVE and HATE are opposites. They are essentially the same, merely one on either end of a spectrum. Same as LIGHT and DARK. I believe you cannot have one without the other, one allows the other to be. It is the way of the natural world.

    So yes, there is hate (aka. FEAR), but by that very virtue, there is LOVE too. A lot of it.

    It is just where the current balance is.

    This doesn’t help with the emotion around this, nor explain why people think they have the right to take away another’s rights…but it might help to balance your view slightly.

    Or you may just think I am a nutter 😉

  12. I think Mary-LUE stole a lot of my comment.

    I’ve been wondering why the Prop 8 thing has gotten you so down. But if you see it as a vote for hate, I can see why it would be so devastating to you.

    I hope you can find other ways to think about it that are less personally hurtful.

  13. First, thank you all for the well reasoned comments.

    Second, in the Bible God condones polygamy, no? So how can we say that God defines marriage as between one man and one woman? I honestly would love insight into this.

    Third, my rabbi does not do interfaith marriages and does not get sued. Given that, why would someone fear being sued for refusing to marry a same-sex couple?

    Any insight well appreciated!

  14. Emily,

    Some of my response to the first part of your question would have to defer to the New Testament. By the time of the New Testament, it seems that marriage had become more of a one on one thing. But an underlying issue, which often gets expressed as God designing marriage between a man and a woman is really the idea that homosexuality is a sin and goes against God’s plan. (I’m not sure how else to phrase that.) So, really, I think that is the primary issue.

    The Christian Church used to explain away homosexuality as a choice or a dysfunction. The current view by society and which research has shown some support for is that someone is born with that preference. This is part of what has led to splits within in the church over whether or not to accept it.

    (I do think there are some scholarly types who might have a response to the polygamy questions, but I don’t feel informed enough to address it responsibly.)

    Really, if you look at the New Testament, Jesus is quite vocal about what constitutes sexual sin–while at the same time accepting the person. The most famous story probably is the woman caught in adultery. His famous words of “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone” are words that I think many Christians forget that.

    To give a run down of the NT point of view: sex outside of marriage is wrong, adultery is wrong, looking at someone lustfully is wrong, divorce is wrong except in certain, well-defined circumstances. Jesus is a stickler.

    Goodness, this is getting long and I don’t know if I am helping.

    As to the fear of lawsuit, I think that the fear of it might be related to the general tendency to litigate in this country. Also, in recent years, there have been a few famous lawsuits that have made people nervous. A few years ago, the LAPD was forced to remove the symbol of the cross from their shield (or logo, something). It was seen as violating the separation of church and state. In reality, it was a representation of the history of California and the Spanish missions and not a religious expression. The intensity of that debate I think makes Christians nervous that any symbol of religion is open to attack.

    I hope that helps. Again, I make the disclaimer that I am not able to speak for all Christians. This is based on my experience and ideas.

  15. It is about hate in some ways, but mostly I think it’s about fear. As humans, we fear change, we fear difference, we fear the unknown. I think there are a lot of people who fear gay and lesbians, because they probably haven’t ever met any. Or they are afraid if the bill passes, it means they are showing their kids that it is okay. Most people don’t realize, it’s all about love. It isn’t a choice like people think, like choosing to be in a band, instead of playing soccer. But people still think it is a choice.

    Who you love shouldn’t matter. I wonder about the kids of these people who voted yes. How many of them are now thinking, I can never tell mom or dad that I’m gay. It’s just so sad. But like all things, change does happen, whether people are open to it or not. It will change, I have faith that it will.

  16. Going theological on us, Emily? 🙂

    Mary Lue’s done a great job giving you an answer, so I’ll just add a few thoughts.

    1. Polygamy was condoned in a specific historical context- the OT times (and usually with not-so-great results, I might add). For Christians, the OT gives the back story to the main event- the life and mission of Jesus Christ, as fulfillment of that back story. He is what we call (and what He called himself) a “fulfillment of the law”. A lot of the customs and rules of the OT (which Judaism still follows, to some extent at least) were rendered unnecessary in the person of Christ. So, no more polygamy.

    2. I echo MaryLue’s comments on litigation, though I fail to see why one should be nervous, unless there’s been litigation in the past. Most rabbis and priests and pastors have great leeway in who they marry. If you know your minister is theologically and morally opposed to same-sex unions, why go to him to get married? Why, then, sue him for his beliefs?

    3. On one point I have to depart from Mary- current research is divided on what engenders sexual orientation. There’s a lot on both sides, but I don’t think anyone can honestly argue that sexuality isn’t at least partially a product of social conditioning.

    Thanks for asking questions. The more the sides understand each other, the better.

  17. Well done post. Yes, base human emotion into law is a scary, scary transition.

  18. I’m with you on this one. My old state is trying to put hate into the State Constitution. They want to treat some people like second class citizens and essentially codify it.

    Sad.

  19. I’m with Mary Lue and Evenshine on this one. I am not sure if I would have voted for Prop 8, but I definitely sympathize with those who do. I think Mary Lue’s first comment was perfect. Just a couple of points of clarification:

    1. Polygamy is tolerated in the OT but not held up as a good example of marriage. Not one polygamous situation in the OT stories ends well. God seems to clearly be showing that his original design was the best; it is the fallenness of man that leads to polygamy. It is just one of many ways in which God seems to give folks what they want because they have the free will to choose less than the best.

    2. The fear of litigation against churches is a real one for many because of discussions that have been going on lately (especially in the Episcopal church and in churches in Canada). Perhaps it will never happen, but the subject has come up enough in church councils and in individual church arguments to make many fearful.

    Have I ever mentioned how much I love places on the blogosphere where people can have respectful and honest disagreements? Thanks for keeping it friendly around here.

  20. I just do not understand.

  21. Hey! I wish I lived in his neighborhood (Biden!) No we aren’t that rich. (yet…or possibly ever) BUT my husband probably knows the people you mentioned. He knows everyone. I would of thought they were Irish with that last name . If they were/are from North Wilmington he know them. Greenville….that’s his brother’s domain.

  22. Emily, you might enjoy reading this…http://thechapel.wordpress.com/2008/11/10/the-conservative-devaluation-of-marriage/.
    Seems to me that the religious folk are in a bind. The christian church says homosexuality is a sin. Therefore, they cannot, in all good conscientious vote for something they believe is a sin. That seems to be the crunch to me.

    I thank god(ess) my mind is not hindered by those outdated constraints!

  23. Here I am a regular church-going Christian, married to a guy in seminary on his way to become an ordained minister, & I have been so down about Prop 8 passing in Cali, I have been having a hard time celebrating that here in CT marriage licenses are just being issued to same-sex couples. I just want folks to know that there are Christians who fully embrace equal rights for all. I don’t struggle with a definition of marriage that includes heterosexual AND homosexual couples. I do not feel my marriage is any less strong (or any less sacred for that matter) because there are other couples, who happen to be the same sex, who want to commit to each other in the way that my husband and I were publicly sanctioned and legally allowed to.

    Since P started divinity school, I have had a harder time seeing the other side of things in terms of religion and homosexuality being incompatible. In the past two years, I have met so many faithful folks who are GBLT who truly feel a calling from God and strive to serve others. It makes me incredibly sad (incredibly angry but I’ll leave that for another comment) that there are people who chose to reject these folks in big or little ways and make laws to exclude them in any aspects of life– using religion as a reason for that exclusion and discrimination.

  24. Emily…I saw this tonight – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ChanTFSmqao – and thought of you again. A wonderfully impassioned speech.

  25. Wow. You’ve gotten a great and respectful response and there isn’t much I could add.

    Personally, I do actually think it is against God’s design. But I have had many friends who have struggled mightly with this and I believe they were born with this inclination and I have deepest compassion for them. I do not wish to tell them how to live their lives, though I do worry about them in the spiritual sense, because of my belief that it is not what God wants. That is for God to judge however. Far be it from me to sit in judgement over the condition of another’s soul. Mine’s not always in such great shape you know, and being married to a Dude doesn’t change that.

    So in a sense, I’m a complete wussy because I’d vote against this based on the convenient coinsidence that politically, I think changes to a constitution are a BIG deal and not to be done unless absolutely and clearly necessary. Thereby avoiding the moral aspect of the issue.

    Like I said – this is really heartrending and complicated.

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