by Dick Price –
If you’ve spent two minutes on our LA Progressive, you know where we stand on Proposition 8, the wrongheaded and wronghearted initiative that would take away the recently won right to marry for gays in California, just like their straight brothers and sisters – just like me and Sharon.
In the past several months, we’ve run dozens of articles attacking Prop 8 from every conceivable moral, legal, religious, and emotional angle. Long-time gay activists Carl Matthes, Rev. Irene Monroe, and Natalie Davis have weighed in week after week on our pages to expose Prop 8’s moral bankruptcy. Other regular contributors like Tom Hall and John Delloro have brought forward their impassioned legal and cultural perspectives against this pernicious measure as well.
Moreover, my wife Sharon has expressed eloquent opposition to Prop 8 arising in part from her experiences with her beloved Uncle Leopold, who played such a pivotal in her life well in adulthood and who died of AIDS on October 27, 1989.
As LA Progressive’s editor, I have edited and posted nearly all of these articles and played a role in recruiting several of the contributing writers. So, naturally, you can assume that I also oppose Prop 8.
That’s certainly true enough – but it’s also not nearly enough.
This is the moral issue of our day and it’s important that all of us – gay, straight, and “decline to state” – take our stand.
My stand: I oppose Prop 8, and here’s why.
Prop 8 Is Morally Wrong
The gay people I have known came by their sexual orientation naturally, it has always seemed to me. I understand that there is a continuum of positions to take between strictly straight and utterly gay. Still, I don’t believe that my gay friends and acquaintances sat down at some early point in their lives – any more than I did or you did – and said, well, what’s it going to be – boys or girls? Their sexual desires came to them, as mine did, a gift.
I recall my best buddy from high school coming to me years ago in some alarm to report that two fellows we had known in high school were living together. Not roommates, he wanted me to know, but lovers. I thought at the time, and said at the time, well, gee, didn’t we know that in fifth grade? He had to agree.
And if it is true, as I believe it to be, that people’s sexual orientation is largely determined for them – indeed, then, is a gift from God – who am I or my government to deny my gay friends all the pains and pleasures of marriage?
Prop 8 Is Legally Wrong
The First Amendment of our Constitution states that “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free experience thereof.”
And, by God, I don’t want Congress or anyone else setting forth a law – about anything, but especially here with gay marriage – that enforces someone else’s religion on me. Thank you very much, but I want the freedom to exercise my chosen religion – or lack of same – as I see fit, provided I don’t harm others in doing so. My gay friends deserve the same.
Sharon is reading A Year of Living Biblically, by A.J. Jacobs, who tried to live for one year according to every precept found in the Bible. There are not 10 Commandments, he found, but more like 625, including one that requires that if you get into a fight with a man and his wife jumps into the fray and grabs your genitals, that you’re required to cut off her hand.
Now, I’m a peaceable soul at this point despite my demeanor and I’ve lost at least a step at 60, so I don’t see myself getting into a fight anytime soon. But if I do, and if his missus grabs me by the nuts, I don’t want anyone putting their religious edict into a civil law that requires me to amputate her hand. As a certain governor would say, “Thanks, but no thanks.”
Prop 8 Is Just Wrong
As you can tell from these paragraphs, I am neither a doctor nor a lawyer. But I do have a strong sense of right and wrong.
Our church – Neighborhood Church in Pasadena – is working hard to defeat Prop 8. Our senior minister, Rev. Dr. Jim Nelson, has set a goal for having at least 75% of our congregation do at least five things each to defeat Prop 8. For weeks now, the “No on 8” group has set up a table outside between services on Sunday so people can learn about the issue and sign up for phone-banking, donations, and fund-raising events.
After service two Sundays ago, my 14-year-old daughter dragged me over to that table – two of her favorite Sunday school teachers, Samantha and Erin, got married this summer in joyous celebration that we attended – and Nea, my daughter, wanted to buy a “No on 8” t-shirt.
She has a couple of friends at school who are wrestling with being lesbians and come to her for support. Nea wanted to wear the shirt to school to show solidarity for her friends. It put me in mind of my own childhood, when my church had us teenagers going door to door in suburban Minneapolis to raise funds for the freedom riders in the South. I was proud of my daughter at that moment – I’m always proud of her, but especially then – so I got a shirt for her and another for me.
I’ve known too many gay people and seen too many gay people who have suffered for the way they are, who have had to hide their sexuality to get by in the world, or who have tried to change the way they are through prayer or drinking or force of will. We’ve all read of gays who have been beaten, as was Sharon’s uncle Leopold, or killed, as was Matthew Shepherd, just for being gay. And we’ve all known gay couples who have had to live as second-class citizens, denied the equal treatment under the law that their straight friends and neighbors enjoy.
It’s time that stops. That’s the way America stands tall, not by ginning up a reason to invade another country, but by breaking down the differences between one American and the next, so we can all live in harmony. And the way we do that here in California is to make sure Prop 8 goes down to defeat.
One to Go
So, Rev. Jim, that’s one of my five tasks you want all members of the congregation to do. Four to go, unless you count the articles we publish, the “No on 8” sign in our front window, and the “No on 8” shirt I wear to work and the market, in which case I’m down to one.
Editor, LA Progressive.
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