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Prop 8: Apportioning Blame & Fighting Back


I am getting sick of hearing that African-American and Latino voters in California are responsible for the horrid result in Californian bigots' successful bid to take rights away from citizens.

That is a slap in the faces of all those dark-skinned people who voted in favor of maintaining legal equality for all. Let's not turn against each other. That won't help the future fight for establishing true equality throughout the US. Mark Monford writes in the San Francisco Chronicle that while hands of many hues played a part in achieving this horrific defeat of decency, he points his finger of blame upward.

Some say the inglorious success of Prop. 8, the brutally regressive measure that removes the rights of very specific people who love very specific other people from ever marrying them, can be blamed on multiple factors.

Some say it was Gavin Newsom's smugness and political recklessness. Some blame Feinstein for daring to support Prop. 8s defeat. Some blame the black and Latino communities for their shocking and rather heartbreaking support of what essentially amounts to a civil rights abuse of the very kind they themselves fought so hard to overcome.

Or maybe it's all those sad, white, central portions of the state, the huge chunks of voters who live in places without much culture or perspective or major universities, who only hear certain strains of spiteful rhetoric and thin fearmongering, whose general lack of education means they apparently still believe certain flavors of love will poison everyone's soup and ruin the sanctity of the time-honored 50-percent heterosexual missionary position Christian divorce rate.

And I must say — and you might not want to hear this — a big chunk of blame for 8's passage has to go to the No on 8 campaign's initial arrogance, followed by their utterly limp reaction when the Yes campaign started attacking and gaining real steam. As one of my politically savvy Chronicle colleagues put it, "No on 8 was a bad campaign. Bad bad bad. Inept, amateurish, incompetent and, above all, guilty of committing the first and worst sin of politics: taking the voters for granted."

But I don't think it stops there. Because when you peel back all those surface factors, when you trace the line of quasi-reasoning back to its source, to the "real" reason many people voted for Prop. 8, I think the real blame lies with, well, the Almighty himself.

That's right, I blame God.

Personally, I disagree with saying the deity upstairs is to blame (and so does the author, really). I fully believe Jesus — who, according to many believers, is God in human form — is weeping alongside those whose rights were yanked. But Monford's larger point is correct: Bigoted churches that present a limited, twisted vision of God are the primary culprit here.

The Mormon and Roman Catholic churches poured millions of dollars into the Yes on 8 campaign. They also violated their own rule to do the job: Remember the commandment against bearing false witness? Well, the churches behind the heinous ad campaigns exhorting people to vote yes on the bigoted measure lied in the most egregious fashion. In doing so, they show that their piety is a sham.

These people are nothing more than desperate, control-freak Pharisees putting on a show of their own religious superiority and clubbing the rest of us with the only remaining weapon they have — the archaic notion that their religious view on marriage is the only one that matters. Their sin is profound and they deserve to be shamed.

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I wonder how many people voted Yes because they believe the religionistas' lies.

So what now? We fight back to turn back the tide of bigotry and the violation of the separation of church and state in ways that are honorable and in keeping with the nation's heritage.

  • We climb off of our bar stools and leave our gilded cages to hit the streets and protest. It's already under way: Demonstrators are showing their justified outrage in numerous protests around California and outside Mormon churches in Utah. Keep it up, folks, even when you're exhausted and broke. Only revolution can save the day. There is no room for apathy and inaction.
  • Others stripped of full citizenship in this nation will risk jail by following the path of Mohandas Gandhi, Rosa Parks, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and the American founders by refusing to pay taxes until they are equal under law — and that includes those diminished by state and federal law. The federal Defense of Marriage Law is every bit as immoral as Proposition 8. This tactic, though dangerous, makes sense: Why should GLBT Americans be charged full freight for second-class citizenship?
  • Decent, equality-loving people will go after the churches: withholding donations, exposing them as the mendacious, self-serving political organizations they really are, and doing everything possible to have them stripped of their undeserved and unfair tax-exempt status.

Additionally, Lambda Legal, the American Civil Liberties Union, and other organizations are going to court in an effort to put a stop to the horrible precedent Prop 8 sets. The US, to its shame, is known for talking equality while withholding it, but never before have rights been taken away from citizens. With any luck, the judicial branch will put an end to what is a clear injustice.

This fight is not over. This is no time to make nice. In the course of righting this wrong, many of us will suffer. But it's worth it — this necessary fight is worth it. Our families are worth it, and so is our dignity. Without full citizenship and equality under law, nothing else matters. And if equality is an inalienable right as our founders declared, God knows it too. And while I am all for forgiveness, in this case, the enemy knows all too well what they are doing. Give 'em hell.


Natalie Davis

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