My little sister is getting married in about ten months. In a lot of ways, she’s a very lucky girl. She met her partner by chance at a shopping center where they both worked. The love of her life is kind, compassionate, and completely devoted to her. They are looking forward to raising a family together, and cannot wait to be legally bound to one and other. Fortunately, they don’t have to, either, because she’s been lucky enough to find all of this in a person whose genitals conveniently don’t match her own. My sister, a heterosexual, is one of the lucky ones for sure.
Today they started to re-duke out Proposition 8 in the California courts. Even though I’ve heard six separate news flashes about who Tiger Woods likes to get his hole in ones with since I got home from work just about an hour ago, I haven’t heard even a whisper about Proposition 8. Perhaps this is because, as David Savage reported online in the Los Angeles Times at 9:06 this morning, an emergency ruling had determined that the proceedings would not be shown on television, YouTube, or any other instant media market as they unfolded. In fact, the courts would not even allow the happenings to be recorded and later available for viewing by the public the following day on YouTube as originally planned.
This gag order might seem innocuous at first, but so do most things that are really going to gut you. By allowing for the only public experience of these court procedures to be one that is by proxy, the right wing is accomplishing two very dangerous things simultaneously that, thanks to this little scheme of theirs, most people won’t even notice. First, since all of our information will be coming to us via someone else's experience, there is no way present it without prejudice. By that, I don’t mean annoying pop-ups and commentaries that would directly speak to the viewer - - it’s worse than that. I mean that the American people will be living it by and large after the fact – allowing for the people who witnessed it first hand to react and, thus, control any future public opinion. It’s like when you go to see a movie that everyone raved about, and you subconsciously wind up trying to like it. You’ve got to actually watch it a few times then to see if you missed something – if there’s some snippet you’re missing before you decide, “Hey, you know what? This sucks.” There’s already a shit storm out there of talking heads and Joe the Plumbers trying to convince us all that legalizing love would lead to people running naked in the streets and having intercourse with mangy dogs. We – all of us – need those nanoseconds of not previously contextualized experience - - seeing the disenfranchised in real time - high definition where available – to grant ourselves an opinion that’s truly ours. The right wing has, effectively, put up a shield between their viewers (the faithful) and what’s happening.
Additionally, the type of media that it is allowed to be broadcasted on has its own downfalls. Aside from pop news, the only real source for information on this case is the internet, so have to actively search for it. It’s not the television in your living room that we all keep on in the background constantly like some sort of modern-day flat-screen security blanket. How many people sit down on the couch after dinner and just turn on the television out of habit? How many of those people flip on the evening news and get the watered-down half-truth de jour nightly? Better yet, how many people do you personally that fall into that same scenario? Now, how many of those same people go to the internet to seek out the previous day’s assessments of court proceedings in landmark civil rights cases?
I mean, what a great trick: pacify the little public outcry for information and inclusion whilst insuring that it is only available as sloppy seconds on a media outlet not nearly as many people will be checking into (for things other than lolcats) as our deal old idiot box. So, basically, they are guaranteeing that only people with a vested interest – those already equipped with strong opinions about the matter –will pariticipate in viewing any commentary. They are going to not only preach to a choir, but a choir in an empty church, and, thus, their base will be nice and safe and those that oppose them strongly – the ones that they weren’t going to be able to convert anyway will be the only other ones viewing it. Dirty bunnies, they are!
Don't get me wrong, most of the stuff that I have read and seen on the internet is more complete than what I've seen on the television (i.e. nothing or hate speech), but it's a second line of communication, not the first. If she views it at all, Millie Mainstream will be blanketed with hate-speech and propaganda that allows her to see the LGBTSE (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Seeking Equality) as an LGBTWWRYC (Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Who Wants to Rape Your Child) that reached her first via Fox and Friends.
They make it seem like they are protecting the children from the horrific gays, but they’re the ones launching a war on our young ones. Chances are, the last gay hasn’t been born yet, and those are sleeping in their cradles right now deserve a future where they can be honest with themselves without short-selling their commitment options. The non-queer babes also deserve better. They deserve a future in which homophobia isn’t a given in the way that we mandate the structure of our families. They deserve to grow up not to be assholes filled with hate.
You know, I’ve been a vegetarian for most of my life. Because of this, I’ve met a lot of other vegetarians – especially since I went vegan – and routinely, I hear the same story from converts. They were happily eating meat day in and day out and viewing lives as commodities until someone allowed them to look at the actual suffering that was being caused by their actions. Then, they took a radical step to not allow themselves to be a part of that suffering.
Though I am probably only setting the legal love movement back even farther by comparing it to something as unknown to most Americans as vegetarianism, I think the comparison is apt. In both cases, people see the meat of the matter only after it has been packaged and marked safe for consumption – one’s just “family-first” hate speech and the other’s porterhouse. If you’re ever allowed to actually look into the face of the suffering individual, you’re already so desensitized that you can’t care.
Personally, I’ve never wanted to marry a woman. I’ve been in love with a few, but I’ve never wanted to marry them. I can’t say whether or not this has been caused by the fact that I’ve never known a life where that would be a legal option, or if that’s just how my clock ticks. However, I can say that with all that I am that I know that this is wrong. My government shouldn’t be telling me or anyone else my legally married partner has to be a certain sex. My government should not be slapping a civil union band-aid atop frustrated queer couples who just want the same liberties as their fellow hetero citizens. It’s hijacking of morality – decency would surely tell you that if two people love each other and want to devote their lives to one and other, they should be able to get married. Yet, the right insists that this group of second-class citizens should instead be forced to live in either celibacy or non-married partnerships. They are forcing them to make a choice that is traditionally viewed as less moral by removing the marriage option and leaving only shacking up in its place. (For what it’s worth, I don’t have any problem with shacking up as an option, but it’s not the choice everyone wants to make.)
Ever since 2000, when Howard Dean popped the cherry of same-sex marriage possibility in Vermont, our nation has been making stumbling steps toward fixing a great wrong, but the pessimist in me thinks that there’s no way for the white hats to win this time. I think that the California courts will find in favor of the fifty-percent-divorce-rated, Bible-belted, hetero-marriage-onlied mob and keep queers out of the chapel – for now.
The thing is, we’ve got to learn from it this time. This is a movement with some very devoted followers – gay, bi, and straight - who want to see everyone have equal options. I believe that if given the chance to really think about it, there are more compassionate people out there who can make a difference than there are hate-mongers. Even though the courts, media, and right-wing are doing their best to bury every bit of this story except for what they’d like you to see, you do have a choice. Talk about what you see in the media about this case and what you're not seeing – and not just with people who already share your views. I know it can be down-right scary to have conversations with people about this because it is such a heated topic, but we need to pull back the curtain to the slaughter house and show the bloody truth of denying gay and bi rights. Consider all the people who are being hurt by this aside from the would-be-married couple: the thousands of babies and children who need a good adoptive home (it is very hard to adopt as a “single” parent), frustrated loved ones of queer family and friends whose life isn’t all it could be because they are second-class citizens, and – worse – loved ones of those that succumbed to the torment of a life unfulfilled and took their own, to name a few. It’s almost like we’re all having to come out of the closet again (or for the first time in the case of our straight brothers and sisters out there) declare that this is something that we really give a damn about and it’s not going away until it’s fair for everyone. Dare not to be apathetic about this.
In a few years, when the girls in my scout troop start to think about the possibility of commitment to another person, I hope they can do so without shame and frustration – I hope they can be honest about who they love both personally and legally. That’s why, when I am at my sister’s wedding next autumn, I hope there’s more turmoil about this in my television. I hope we’re able to make the headlines over the latest celebrity gossip. I hope that, by that time, we start to see progress winning and can envision a time when happiness and fulfillment doesn’t hang on the luck of being born straight.
For those of you who want to follow the trial through the internet, here are two pretty good sites:
I wish we could see it for ourselves!