Category Archives: Prop 8

Merry Puppets

            My mother-in-law, emerging from a catatonic state brought on by watching Wonder Pets for four days in a row, recently sent the boys a couple of DVDs.  The first to arrive was The Sound of Music, which I quietly buried under a stack of old Baby Einstein boxes.  While I am happy for the hills to be alive and all that crap, I am not quite ready to explain the Nazis to Zachary.  The second movie was Mary Poppins.

            It seemed benign enough, so one afternoon when I had no help and needed Tweedledee and Tweedledum to stop fighting for a half-hour while I fed their Twedledette, I stuck it in.  The one-show-a-day rule is, like all other rules, made to be broken by exasperated mothers. 

            If you haven’t seen this movie recently, you probably remember a bunch of chimney sweeps and in interminable sequence when everyone goes into the chalk drawings.  But, the movie is not all spoons filled with sugar.  Oh no, it certainly is not.  In this movie, there is a mother who is so busy parading around with a bunch of suffragists that she cannot seem to make time to raise her children.  That’s why she needs a nanny.

            It actually reminds me of quite a few families I know that have full-time help, two kids, and a stay-at-home parent, yet somehow always seem completely overwhelmed.  (OK, that was kind of bitchy, especially since until this week I had half-time help and an au pair arriving next month.)

            Anyway, in the movie my children now fondly refer to as Merry Puppets, the suffragettes march around the house a little at the beginning of the movie in sashes, before they head out into the streets to demand the right to vote.  Zachary looked a little confused. 

            I told him that women weren’t allowed to vote back then and the mommy is asking the government to change the law so women could vote.  Zach sort of nodded as he fixed his attention on the screen, so I decided to pass on explaining that the entire premise of Mary Poppins is that Mrs. Banks is a deficient mother for wasting her time agitating for the vote when she should be home minding the children.  We’ll save feminist film theory for another day.  Gotta leave something for them to learn in second grade.

            If I had any ability to learn from past experience, I would have realized that the conversation had merely been tabled for another day.  Anyone who has ever spent longer than 90 seconds with a four-year-old knows that, two weeks later, as we were walking to the library, Zach busted out with: “But, why were the women not allowed to vote?”

            So I explained that some people thought women weren’t smart enough to vote.  “Does that sound fair?” I asked, which was probably a leading question.  What ensued was a string of questions on his part about legislative history and a string of lame attempts on my part to explain the nineteenth amendment.  (Because I was already over my head, I was not going to get into the suffrage fight in two different countries.)

            “Mommy, how do they,” pause to search for the word, “cancel unfair laws?”  Somehow, this line of questioning landed us in Prop 8 territory, as he wondered about how laws change.  But, then it occurred to him: “What happens to the people who were married before Proposition 8?”  At which point I found myself trying to explain Supreme Courts and lawyers to a four-year-old.

            I was really fucking relieved when the conversation finally ended and resolved that we would be reverting to our old viewing habits.  Tinkerbell, at least, doesn’t require an entire civics lesson.

            Unfortunately, Passover is coming, and the preschool teachers explained to the children that the last plague made the Egyptians really sad, but they didn’t tell the kids the precise nature of that plague.  Come on.  Really?  Did it not occur to you that this would only pique their curiosity?  There’s nothing like trying to explain the Death of the Firstborn while merging onto the Freeway.

            “But, Mommy.  Why was God mean to the Egyptians?”

            I think I’ll book him an appointment with the rabbi.  And I’ll probably stop opening packages from my mother-in-law.

But it’s not about hate

I have a new post up at LA Moms Blog.  In case you haven’t read enough about Prop 8, this one actually says something different than my twelve other posts on the topic.

Photos of a rally

I am a straight Californian, and this is how I define a family:

(I even threw in a picture of me with Lilah…)

Our uncivil union

            I don’t believe in God, which I know probably makes a good number of you worry for my eternal soul.  Yet, for reasons never quite clear to me, a significant portion of my friends, online and off, are practicing Christians.  We disagree about something pretty enormous, but we somehow manage to like one another.  I suspect this is because we have two things in common: we acknowledge we don’t know everything and we are respectful of other people’s voices.

            That explains why we were able to have a productive discussion around here on Monday.  A discussion in which people, you know, listened to others with differing points of view.

            Religion is about truth.  A person who is committed to a particular sect must believe that her faith is the vessel of truth.  American civic life, however, is composed of truths in the plural.  It must encompass every belief set, giving space for a multitude of viewpoints.  This is why church and state work better kept far away from one another, because the state needs to leave room for many churches, not to mention us heathens.

            There is one glaring area in which church and state are hopelessly intertwined.  One area where my rabbi can execute a binding legal contract.  One area where it is impossible to separate the legal and the religious definition of the word.  The M-word.

            So, maybe it is time for the state to get out of the marriage business.  Instead of legally marrying people, maybe the government just needs to only offer civil unions to all couples.  If people want a religiously-defined marriage in addition, go for it.  But leave it to the religions to define their truths about marriage, while the legal contract is kept completely separate.

            That would lead to a much more civil union.

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.