Wednesday, November 5, 2008

My Promises and Expectations after Proposition 8

This political season has been difficult for many of us. We have seen one of the most intense presidential races in history. Stakes are high with issues regarding the economy and wars, not to mention historic milestones seen for both African Americans and women in our political arena. I feel an energy in the air with it all. Something is tipping; a corner in a cycle is being turned. We as Americans will become different through the coming events-–much like how we became different through the Industrial Revolution, Great Depression, and WWII, to name a few.

For me, emotions ran very high over the now over decade old issue of same-sex marriage. Many states carried the issue on their ballots this year. This ranged from trying to keep homosexual couples, and other unmarried couples, from being adoptive or foster parents (AK Initiative Act 1) to constitutional amendments to make marriage only between “a man and a woman” (AZ Proposition 102, CA Proposition 8, FL Amendment 2). Again, we saw some of the most intense politicking ever seen in the CA campaigning over Proposition 8, garnering attention to position it as mascot of the issue for the country. Debates were intense. Advertising and general claims often went past extreme into the absurd. Many baffled me as I tried to understand how the issues they brought up have any bearing on the issue. Perhaps the most disturbing were the highly sanctimonious reasoning behind most of the arguments and the intense financial backing by religions, especially the LDS Church. I lost more than a few nights of sleep as the world became a little more hostile to me trying to live peaceably in it.

With all that has been said, debated, and argued, I promise to do the following:
  • I promise to allow you to educate your children as you see fit. I have my beliefs as to what should be included in sex-education, health, and social study courses. I think it is somewhat absurd and potentially damaging to ignore the existence of homosexuals in these issues, and I believe the curriculum must be carefully tailored to fit the maturity of the students. However, I completely acknowledge your rights as parent/guardian to teach the morality of these things to your children and should hold the right to remove your child from involvement should you deem it necessary.

  • I promise to allow churches to marry whom they wish to marry and not marry whom they do not wish to marry.

  • I promise to allow church based agencies providing services, such as adoption, to reserve the right to refuse service to anyone. I promise to allow any other private company the right to the same, as long as they abide by the proper local laws to do so.

  • I promise to allow private, sectarian school to run their housing and admissions according to their own policies.

  • I promise to allow people, including ministers and other religious figures, to speak of homosexuality as sin without insisting they be censored on the claim of “hate speech.” Also, I do not consider phrases like “traditional marriage” or “family values” to be hate speech. However, this is no basis to allow incendiary rhetoric condoning harm to others.

In return, I ask for the following:
  • Become educated about homosexual, bisexual, and transgender issues. Many out there are still severely ignorant, leading to fear and anger, about what these are and what is – and isn’t – involved.

  • Become education about the points you argue. Many have gone to topics and expressed concerns about issues in no way connected or contested over the issue of same-sex marriage. Also, learn how to understand studies and statistics and know how to find the reliable ones. So many have abused and misused studies to make their point seem valid. (I openly admit many on both sides of the issue are guilty of this. All the more reason for you to know how to deal with it properly.)

  • Those who argue the issue is not same-sex marriage but defending "traditional" marriage or the definition of marriage, work to actually define "traditional" marriage in the law. I admit, I ask this somewhat ironically. One of the great talking points is protecting marriage as it is defined. However, our civil law has done a poor job in reflecting the definition many give as to why same-sex couples should be barred from it. If the great debates and issues surrounding same-sex marriage have shown me anything it is that marriage, from the point of view of the law in our country, is poorly defined in what it is for and what purpose it is to serve. I expect to see the proposal of legislation at both state and federal levels to improve the structuring of marriage laws to reflect what it is to have and maintain "traditional" marriage (e.g., if "traditional" marriage is to be about bearing and raising children I wish to see fecundity requirements for marriage and tax benefits only when the couple is the primary caregiver of a minor). Otherwise, I shall consider this aspect of arguments merely meaningless talking points used to emotionally manipulate people.

  • Those who say you have no objection to civil unions stand by your promise. Many have said they have no problem recognizing civil unions at both state and federal levels that allow ALL the same RIGHTS and RESPONSIBILITIES as marriage. Although I feel this is playing a very unnecessary semantics game, I hope you will stay by your word. Should we seek to have such civil unions, either support us or stand aside. If you oppose us after all you have said I will consider you the most extreme of hypocrites.

  • Acknowledge our existence. One of the most pervasive attitudes I saw in all the debate and argument was a feeling that people wanted homosexuals not to exist. I am not talking of an intent or desire to kill us or drive us from our homes. It was a subtle, almost unconscious “don’t ask, don’t tell” type of attitude. As much as you may wish us off the radar, we are here. To insist on ignoring our existence by not allowing your children – or even yourself – to hear of us, by not allowing us to share our lives with the one we choose, or even by not allowing us the basic needs to survive in society – as one man I spoke with actually wanted to do – is an attempt at a relativistic existence. With all the fearful rhetoric of homosexuals destroying society, I see trying to maintain such an existence as being far more destructive.

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