The Voices of the Peoples

After Proposition 8, which attempts to inserts a phrase that defines marriage as only between one man and one woman into our state Constitution, passed here in California, my initial reaction was that it was inevitable.

Even though, only weeks before election day, defeat of the anti-gay marriage was as much as 19 points ahead in some polls, by the day of the election the decision was neck-and-neck, and even though California is often depicted as some insane liberal haven filled with wackos, deviants and drug abusers, that really only applies to us here in San Francisco, and more particularly Berkeley. The Yes on 8 bandwagon was bound to gain steam and roll over those of us who were hoping that maybe this time logic would prevail over fear and prejudice, though I, personally, had faith in the tendency of the electorate to say one thing to pollsters, but vote differently once they were in the privacy of the ballot box.

You might tell a stranger who wants to publish your opinion that you’re in favor of freedom and justice for all, but when you’re all alone and it’s time to stamp the ballot, it’s easy to just be yourself. And my faith in the darker nature of us all has not been diminished.

Not long after it became clear that Prop. 8 was going to pass, opponents representing my rights took their case to court in an attempt to overturn and throw out the vote. Frankly, I’m against that tactic. For one thing, they only did that after the vote didn’t go our way. If it really was an illegal proposition, why didn’t they do something like that before the vote? Was it because everyone thought it would be defeated? I also think that, as much as I hate to admit it, the proponents have a point. This has been voted on twice now, and each time the majority spoke. If we’re going to get our rights, I’d prefer to do it in an environment where we’re not constantly under legal threat to have them removed all over again. Not that defeat of Prop. 8 necessarily meant that they wouldn’t get another million signatures in two year’s time and try it again, but if the population of California had voted against it this time, perhaps another proposition would have been harder to come by.

Maybe California, and certainly the rest of the nation (with the exception of Massachusetts) isn’t ready to provide equal rights to every citizen. Apparently, the idea of marriage is chockablock with too many minefields. This particular legal contract, it’s too darned… oh what’s the word? Sacred! Too darned sacred to too much of the population to allow anyone other than “one man and one woman” to be married, and that definition is, according to public comments I read at CNN and elsewhere, thousands of years old. Even as old as mankind itself! Older than, like, anything! And changing it will result in several really horrible things that will destroy all of society, even us gays who don’t know what we’re toying with.

So I’ve decided to try to meet some of those doubts and fears head-on. I’ve taken the liberty of copying verbatim some of the comments in support of Prop. 8 that concerned citizens left in various articles about the subject at, and I’d like to address them one by one.

It says in the Bible that marriage is a sacred bond between one man and one woman! As a Christian, what other parts of the Bible would you like me to just ignore?

Let’s say that I don’t want you to ignore any, and that we’ll take a strict interpretation of the Bible as the basis for laws concerning marriage in the United States. I’m happy to report that your amendment now reads like this:

Marriage in the United States shall consist of a union between one man and one or more women. (Gen 29:17-28; II Sam 3:2-5) Marriage shall not impede a man’s right to take concubines, in addition to his wife or wives. (II Sam 5:13; I Kings 11:3; II Chron 11:21) A marriage shall be considered valid only if the wife is a virgin. If the wife is not a virgin, she shall be executed. (Deut 22:13-21) Marriage of a believer and a non-believer shall be forbidden. (Gen 24:3; Num 25:1-9; Ezra 9:12; Neh 10:30) A contract of marriage is for life. Neither this Constitution nor the constitution of any State, nor any state or federal law, shall be construed to permit divorce. (Deut 22:19; Mark 10:9)

I feel more marriage-inclined, how ’bout you?

Does being born gay make it right? If so, what about those that are born predisposed to being an alcoholic, drug addict, murderer, or a pedophile? Do we vote to allow them there(sic) right to do what they feel in there(sic) mind is the right thing? What about procreation? What would happen on a secluded island filled with all men, or only all women? If we were to travel back to that island in 120 years, how many humans would we find? None. Homosexual sex does not allow for procreation.

Wow, that’s a really compelling argument and you make a lot of points. None of them make any sense, but you do make a lot of them.

First of all, I want to thank you for equating me as a gay man with all alcoholic, drug-addicted murdering pedophiles. I think that’s probably apt. As much as being born straight wouldn’t make it “right” either, assuming one is “born straight.”

But let’s set that one aside, pending evidence that your proposition is correct, and look at the second part. “What about procreation?” you ask. As far as I know, marriage isn’t a necessary prerequisite for procreation, nor do all couples who are married eventually procreate. Indeed, many married couples can’t have children at all, so I suppose there should be some sort of medical test and legal requirement that those who want to be married must be able to procreate and, more than that, intend to do so.

May I also ask about this fun-sounding island you mention? Where, exactly, is that? Is it clothing-optional, and who brings the Tequila?

I am not against gay people. I have known several in my life and get along with them just fine. I still don’t feel it is right for them to be married. It is like approving of a choice that goes against the normal rules of God, nature and society. If they choose to be gay that is fine, but I don’t think it is something to be bonded into marriage. I have also been around several drug users. They were fine to be around as well. I still don’t think drugs should be legalized.

It gladdens my gay little heart that you’re “not against gay people.” And I’m certainly also glad that you “get along with them just fine.” May I say for all gay people that I am not against straight people, and try not to judge them too harshly because they are straight. I try to imagine that being straight doesn’t define everything about them in one fell swoop, although I cannot help thinking that George W. Bush and Mahatma Gandhi are so much alike! It’s, like, weird.
There’s that phrase equating homosexuality and drug abuse again. I have to wonder why that keeps cropping up. On the one hand, I understand the need to frame homosexuality as a negative on society and destructive to those individuals who are gay. It makes it easier to pass laws against us, and to exclude and define us as dangerous. As such, I’d like to suggest an alternative that will accomplish the same goal for you, but avoid the negative connotations.

Being gay is like being naked. It’s fine, as long as you don’t do it in public. And what kind of world would it be if we were all naked! Imagine the procreation! See? I managed to make being gay seem bad to the point that we should pass laws to confine it, and threw in procreation at the same time! Like magic!

“The normal rules of God, nature and society” seems like a very broad set of rules. Firstly, are there abnormal rules? If so, we’d probably fall into that group. They’re still rules, of course, just less normal.

Then there’s the second classification that these rules fall into three categories at once: God’s rules, nature’s rules and society’s rules. I covered God’s rules above, so I hope you’ll understand when the government has to kill every non-virgin wife. Maybe the men involved in those marriages could all go live on that island where they’ll all be dead in 120 years! Two birds, one stone kind of a thing.

Nature’s rules are kind of up for grabs. I mean, there’s the evolution thing, which I’ll assume you also disagree with on the basis of the word “theory” so let’s lean, instead, toward the “intelligent design” school of rules. Using that logic, that “someone” (God, wink, wink) had to have had a hand in making nature, we pull nature’s rules back in with God’s rules as the same thing, and since I already covered that, then… not a lot more to say.

“The normal rules of … society” is a bit problematic, since they can be redefined by the majority, unless I’m misinterpreting your definition of society and it’s not, also, the whole God and nature thing. But let’s listen to our next guest for more on society!

“It’s destructive to society!” That’s right. YOu are married so you can procreate into a family. Granted, not every couple can have children, but when you openly chose to deny this possibility (art. insemination and adoption aside), openly choose to rob society of children raised in “real” families…you are harming the natural evolution of society…period.

Wow. Harsh. And I like the “…period” you attached to the end, which I assume means that you’re not even willing to listen to alternative views or discuss your opinion. But now we’re on my blog and I get to do whatever I want to! I certainly wish it was more like an island filled with bare-chested, lusty men but we can’t have everything. Obviously.

I also applaud your use of quotes around “real” when referring to the family structure, qualifying the idea of families as being only one thing. Plus, imaginary families are such a pain. I mean, who do the kids look to when it’s time to get tucked in? And also coupling “natural” and “evolution,” implying that societies do evolve, but only in natural ways, because they’re of nature. Or in nature. Or part of nature, like trees and non-gay birds. Because the gay thing is unnatural, so society will never conform to acceptance. Or something. Sorry, you did kind of lose me there.
Anyhoo, you’re lumping marriage and procreation together again as the only possible reason that anyone should get married. Which would be fine if being married yielded the only possible method of procreation, which we both know isn’t true at all, or that there were no other benefits in marriage in society other than the right or ability to procreate — can we say “have children” instead of “procreate?” Or, for that matter, “fucking?”

Let’s use fucking.

Okay, if we assume that one may only fuck within the bonds of holy matrimony, and that the only reason for fucking is to make children, then your proposition proves correct.

The problem is that we have to ignore all the other legal benefits of marriage, including tax benefits, next of kin questions, who gets the money when we die and we neglected to leave a will, where the federal government pention goes to if the partner of a man is not a woman (or anyone else by marriage) and so forth. Given that the machinery of marriage includes so much more than fucking and children, I must politely remove your period.

Gays and lesbians are free. What important civil rights are they missing? Things are just not perfect, and they are too picky and self-centered to stand back and enjoy their freedoms. Hanging up over the word “marriage” seems like a worthless battle. This is a lousy time to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

For the record, I personally have never equated my fight for equality with the racial or religious minorities who have also struggled to attain some measure of equal footing in the laws of the land. I don’t think they’re the same thing, though there are obvious similarities. But since it’s easier to hide one’s sexuality than the color of one’s skin or where one attends church, I more or less sighed and accepted that homosexuals would never be accepted as worthy of the same rights (and responsibilities) that straight people enjoy and accept.

But I have to admit that your statement really knocks me for a loop. I’m going to assume you’re not gay, since you refer to us as “they,” which means you have never dealt with the kind of prejudice and fear that we deal with every day. Do people like yourself have any idea what it feels like when people proclaim with ease and no apparent sense of shame that they fear having “homosexuality taught in schools” — I’m gay and even I don’t know what that means. Are there “being straight” classes I missed? I mean, other than getting beat up on the blacktop or living in constant fear of being found out, resulting in more, y’know, beating up.

What, exactly, are these classes going to entail? Hairstyling? Flower arranging? Butt fucking 101? I really love the way you manage to toss out the entire idea that gays and lesbians (and you forgot transgendered) have anything to grouse about at all, because we’re free to be ourselves without recrimination or fear that we’ll be fired from our jobs (in Arizona) or refused the right to adopt (in Arkansas) or recognition of any benefits whatsoever similar to marriage regardless of what that union is called (Virginia, Michigan and Ohio). So thanks for writing all that off as being “too picky.” And I’m sorry we intruded on your own imperfect life. Please go back to being universally loving rather than self-centered like us gays.

Why do gays and lesbians fight to redefine marriage? I have no problem with them wanting medical coverage for their spouse, I have no problem with them wanting visitation when one of them is in the hospital. But yet they struggle to redefine an existing institution. Blacks don’t fight to be called white, Grocery stores don’t fight to be called florist, and women don’t fight to be called men.

The oversimplification aside, we’re not actually trying to “redefine” anything.
What is marriage today (or more precisely, prior to November 4, 2008) in the state of California? According to the 4-3 ruling by the California Supreme Court that Proposition 8 seeks to overturn, “the state Constitution’s guarantees of personal privacy and autonomy protect the right of an individual to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one’s choice. The Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples.”
So who’s actually attempting to redefine marriage in California?

It’s you! Funny. But not ha-ha funny, if you get my drift.

Speaking of, your attempt at humor in there, with the whole “blacks don’t fight to be called white” thing? So not funny. Plus, I don’t recall ever demanding to be called “straight.” Or “stupid.”

While I believe that homosexual individuals have the right to fair and equal treatment under the law, my personal belief is that the legalization of same-sex marriage would result in a significant decline in the civil rights of religious individuals.

The larger argument here stems from something that happened in Massachusetts where a second-grade class was read a book called “King &smp; King” that suggests that when a prince marries a prince rather than a princess, that’s perfectly okay. In a subsequent court case, which the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear without comment, the parents of one child sued the state citing their First Amendment free exercise of religion rights and their parental and privacy rights under the 14th Amendment’s due-process clause. The panel ruled that “there is no free exercise right to be free from any reference in public elementary schools to the existence of families in which the parents are of different gender combinations.”

Separately, in another related case, they also said, “public schools are not obliged to shield individual students from ideas which potentially are religiously offensive, particularly when the school imposes no requirement that the student agree with or affirm those ideas.”
In other words, the mere dissemination of ideas does not imply or enforce acceptance of those ideas. Or, in other other words, taching about something that’s perfectly legal isn’t illegal, whether you agree with it or not, in a public school.

So the parents felt they had no alternative but to take their children out of school and homeschool them, so they’re protected from any bad or wrong ideas which might tempt them to become gay, or drug-addicted, or murderers, or pedaphiles, and that they could grow up to be weird and antisocial and not gay at all, even a little bit, because we all turned gay when first presented with the idea of it, which is so appealing. Because, as we all know, once you’re presented with the idea of “gay,” you simply can’t help yourself from wanting cock. It’s just how it works. You want some right now, don’t you? Because I said “gay.” Oops.

(Marriage is) a standard for the development and support of healthy families. Gays have no right to redefine and destroy that standard. They mock and distort everything. They mock marriage, They mock the integrity of the civil rights movement. They insult our intelligence with rants of bigotry, that are so obviously out of context to anyone who knows the truth. Everyone who’s worked in law enforcement has seen this sort of misleading smoke screen to mask corruption.

I’m happy to be lumped in to a universal definition of ‘gay,’ particularly when you suggest that one of our main goals, as a people, AKA “The Gays,” is to mock and distory everything. I think this very article does an excellent job of illustrating that goal and proving your point. I mock you! Mock, mock, mock!

I’m not sure I’ve ranted about bigotry enough, though, to help you, nor to insult your intelligence with said ranting and/or mocking, not to mention distorting. So here’s my rant about bigotry: When you refer to every member of a group by a derogutory title, AKA “The Gays,” which in itself, I would agree, is not derogutory but within the context of your comments, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that you don’t mean it as a compliment, then you’re engaging in bigotry.

A bigot is, as defined by the Oxford English Dictionary, “a person who is prejudiced in their views and intolerant of the opinions of others.” Going a couple of steps further, “prejudiced” means, literally, to pre-judge, and “intolerant” means, well, not tolerant, or unable to endure specified conditions. So when you engage in throwing around some broad, negative accusations pointed at a particular group based on the activties or opinions of a few of them, you’re engaging in bigotry, whether that insults your intelligence or not. Sorry to be the barer of bad news.
As for the right to redefine and destroy marriage, I think you may be combining two verbs that have no logical connection. Redefining something does not destroy it, though destroying something could certainly be a redefinition of it, I must admit.

However, far from trying to destroy something, we merely want to be included in its many benefits, and I would also have to throw in that the definition of marriage completely depends on whom you ask, since I’m pretty sure I covered the whole Bible thing prior in this testament of mine. Marriage can be more than one woman to one man, and may include brothers, sisters and fathers according to prevailing details, so let’s agree that neither you nor I am about to redefine or destroy that definition.

And finally we come to the last universal declaration in your statement, that “everyone who’s worked in law enforcement” can see this for what it really is; a corruption mask. Which is phrase I must admit I enjoy very much and may start using on a daily basis whenever my coffee order is fulfilled incorrectly or I discover that someone in the 12 items or less line has 13. “That’s a misleading smokescreen to mask corruption!” Love it.

So, corruption. Being corrupt has a few definitions, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that the one you wish to convey here is “evil or morally depraved.” So that the unstated and secret goal of “the gays” is to redefine and destroy marriage because we are, in essence, depraved individuals who want everyone else to fall into the same category. We want, in the end, for everyone to be gay.

While that would be certainly more convenient from a dating aspect and possibly help to alleviate the fairly broadranging loathing of homosexuals that pervades the general population over the age of, say, 30, it’s not at all what any of us want, far as I know from the discussions we have at our gay induction center meetings. No, we’d settle for being treated with the same respect that our straight friends, by and large, receive by not being gay, i.e. marriage. Fairness is all we’re asking. Not destruction of an institution.

Whew! Well, that was a lot to digest, wasn’t it? I elected not to respond to the most angry and vituperative comments that used some rather overt hatred and name-calling, only because there’s really not a lot I can offer those people and they’re unlikely to stop thinking of me as “an animal” with no right even to live among decent human beings and why don’t I just shut up and go shoot myself instead, sort of a thing. After all, this is America, land of the free, home of the brave, place of the tolerant, thing of the separate but equal.

The struggle will continue. Maybe we’ll shift our focus from marriage to one of the other injustices we contend with, though none of that, whether it’s successful or not, will ever end the hatred of homophobics about homosexuality. It isn’t as if racism has suddenly disappeared, is it?

Or sexism. Or religious intolerance.

It’s just that there are federal laws on the books that state that none of that matters when it comes to marriage.

Only one thing — about a certain class of people — does.

November 10, 2008

6 responses to The Voices of the Peoples

  1. Vanessa said:

    I’ve followed your blog for a while now and have always enjoyed reading. I must comment on this one. “Because, as we all know, once you’re presented with the idea of “gay,” you simply can’t help yourself from wanting cock.” That’s my favorite sentence ever.
    It’ll happen one day. Just keep being you. 🙂

  2. Joe said:

    Pretty insightful for a gay. If you could properly carry a baby to term, I’d marry you in a heartbeat.

  3. scott said:

    i’m proud to have soddomized you!

  4. Derek said:

    Lance – I’ve been reading your stuff since way before you came out (back when you discovered ketchup on a tortilla does not a good burrito make). I have to say this is one of the better pieces you’ve written.
    Even as a straight, happily married person, I puke a little every time I hear someone roll out the “sanctity of marriage” card or point to (thump on?) the bible and it’s forbidding of homosexuality as an argument against allowing gay marriage (Wisconsin had a similar Prop 8 referendum two years ago that was voted into effect).
    Thanks especially for the Bible verse laden legal text. I’ll probably use it in the future to show how sanctimonious someone’s “sanctity” argument is.

  5. Vicki said:

    > opponents representing my rights took their case to court in an attempt to overturn and throw out the vote. … If it really was an illegal proposition, why didn’t they do something like that before the vote?
    They did do “something like that” before the vote. On July 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court denied, without comment, a petition calling for the removal of Proposition 8 from the November ballot.

  6. Suebob said:

    A lot of people get hung up on the “Is being gay a choice?” thing and I hear others say “NO! It is never a choice! It is from birth!” Well, I have a friend for whom being lesbian was a choice. Following a brutal gang rape, she felt she wasn’t ever going to be able to have good sex again. But then she found lesbian sex…and has been happy with that ever since. She even tried having sex with a man years later, a good friend, to see if male-female sex would work for her, but it still didn’t. So for her, lesbianism was definitely a choice made as an adult.
    Here is my point: SO? Why should someone else get the chance to dictate her sexual happiness? If not through birth but through circumstance she should become a lesbian, whose business is it but hers? Is the world better off if she is broken and celibate and frustrated, or if she is getting her happy on with another woman who enjoys her company? I would argue that a world of sexually satisfied people would be a lot nicer place.
    End of rant.

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