What the world needs now is love sweet love…and as Keith Olbermann says, in a world so desperately in need of love, why would anyone want to restrict it? Apparently a majority of Californians do, at least when it comes to those perverts.
O, irony of ironies! At last, minorities voted in huge numbers, African-Americans and Hispanics and Asians—and the first thing they did, or rather the second, after voting for Obama, was to cast their votes against civil rights for another minority. Fully 70% of African-American voters went for Prop 8.
Call me racist, but I refuse to join the chorus of voices solemnly saying it’s the fault of Proposition 8 opponents for not “explaining” it better to those unfamiliar with the issue. For instance, they say, if only gays had made black people aware that the old miscegenation laws forbidding marriage between blacks and whites, the last of which were only abolished in 1967, is the same as anti-gay marriage laws. Sure, that would’ve been a good idea—but this is just blaming the victim. If minorities cannot see that restrictive laws against gays are a matter of civil rights, well, I just don’t know.
Black gay spokespeople blame the lack of coalition between gay and African-American groups, and the failure to make connections between their respective issues. That may be—but what does it cost anyone to let gay people marry? As Olbermann said, you don’t have to like it or go to gay weddings or have anything at all to do with any of it; you just don’t take it away. You don’t take away someone’s civil rights as Proposition 8 did. Gay people’s situation in America is not the same as that of black people. Gay oppression is not the same as slavery and segregation. But it is a matter of civil rights.
It makes me sick and it makes me angry. Prop 8 is mean and nasty, and it’s based on homophobia.
On the other hand: Jasmyne Cannick, an African-American lesbian who supports Prop 8, wrote an article in the LA Times and the SF Chronicle, pulling no punches in her fury towards gay activists. I have to admit, I’ve often felt, as she does, that this whole issue of gay marriage is a big energy drain: I came up in the 1970s women’s and hippie movements, when all we wanted was to run as far as possible from marriage and military service. This decade or so of gay activism’s focus on equality in these two areas has seemed, at times, like a big cosmic joke to me. Ultimately, however, I figure that if this is what gay people want, let them have it. It costs me nothing. But then, I’m not black. Read Cannick’s rant and you’ll see what I mean.
Still, as much as I empathize with Cannick’s point of view, I’m appalled to be living in a state I thought was the most progressive in the country. California, in this New Yorker’s eyes, has plenty of faults—but the one thing I’ve never faulted it for is the open-mindedness of Californians. Now I don’t know. I just don’t know.