Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Why is not allowing gay people to marry discrimination against gay people?

Because basically, what defines someone as gay is not some individual attribute (skin color, eye shape, boobs, etc.), but instead the gender of the person one chooses to be in a relationship with - who one wants as his/her life partner. If someone happens to find people of the same gender more attractive, or they feel more comfortable with them, or prefer their energy, and then 2 people of the same gender meet and fall in love with each other - they officially are able to don the term 'gay', even if they aren't necessarily ONLY attracted to one or other gender. In a nutshell - what makes someone gay is who someone loves, which is a big part of defining who someone is. By fighting for laws that get the state involved in preventing the official recognition and legal protection of gay couples, the state and society effectively discriminate against gay love and gay relationships, therefore discriminating against gay individuals.

You can't just look at someone and know if they are gay or not. Ok, sure, sometimes you can. But often enough you really cannot. Gay people can easily hide being gay, which is why something like the 'Don't ask don't tell' policy can even exist. In fact, if every gay person came out of the closet to all of their families, friends, and coworkers, chances are people would be a LOT more aware of the presence of the gay community than they currently are. This is why in the movie Milk, Harvey Milk tells everyone that they all have to come out to everyone they know immediately, to really make a change. Since marriage has become the term used at the state level to signify the ultimate recognition (in terms of legal rights and social standing) of straight couples, denying that right to gay people discriminates (as discussed above) against gay love, gay relationships, and therefore gay individuals.

For religious conservatives who don't care necessarily if gay people merely exist, but just don't want the concept of 'marriage' as they define it to apply to gay people, perhaps their fight should not be against gay marriage per se, but instead it should be to take marriage out of the legal realm completely. They should instead fight to change all unions between people to civil unions, which could give everybody engaging in these civil unions the same rights and benefits, regardless of gender, regardless of faith. In the objective legal world, to engage in a civil union it shouldn't even technically matter if people love each other - putting legal definitions and parameters around the idea of 'love' would be difficult if not impossible, and certainly would be up for heated social debate. Civil unions recognized by the state instead of marriage could serve the duos' needs in a way tailored to them without externally imposed (by any one particular faith) ideas of what their union should signify. Instead of fighting gay marriage, a fight that is currently tearing families apart and fostering a lot of hate on both sides, religious conservatives should fight to keep 'marriage' strictly in the church/temple, to be interpreted how individual couples and their spiritual guides so desire, with civil unions kept in the courts - and have this be the system for everyone. America is about equality and individuality, not letting the collective limit definitions of equality based on the majority's opinion. As it stands, at least in California, to get married you need to have a minister or priest sign your marriage contract. How is this separation of church and state in the least?

Seriously, the soul is infinite and a part of the Universe. The Universe just IS...it is what it is, it does not have a gender. I think souls are infinite, part of the Universe and all the energies that make up the Universe, and that the body is simply a physical structure (at its smallest part made up of tiny little atoms, which - to my knowledge - do not have genders). The body gives physical and social meaning to how the soul is able to express itself, although if you get past simple man/woman binaries, the way this expression plays itself out can be just as infinite as the Universe itself (think of all the definitions and expressions of gender in terms of transcultural and historical conceptions of beauty, masculinity/femininity, transgenderism, etc.).

So the question should probably be, why don't we just get over this gender bending, and let people just live their lives? Seriously, there are a million and one other things far more important to our survival - like how we are going to dismantle agro-industry and get back to eating naturally and farming sustainably, or how we are going to stop oil dependency - than gay marriage. In the meantime, the people who fight for legal discrimination against gay people, their relationships, and their families cause a lot of pain to everyone, when we could all be working together to make the world a more beautiful and more sustainable place for everyone, forever.

Below, a letter on the meaning of the upholding of Prop 8 for the gay community, and steps to take for the future.

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United We Mourn, United We Stand

Today, the California Supreme Court diminished its legacy as a champion of equality. By upholding Prop 8, an initiative that stripped the right to marry from same-sex couples in California, the Court’s decision has undermined the central principle that all people are entitled to equal rights and has jeopardized every minority group in California. No minority group should have to defend its right to equality at the ballot, and the Court should not have permitted such a travesty of justice to stand.

Today’s decision is dramatically out of step with where the nation is heading. After decades of struggle and hard work, we are living through an unmistakable turning point in the history of our movement. In the past few weeks alone, there has been a tidal wave of momentum in favor of equality for same-sex couples—including a unanimous decision upholding marriage equality from the Iowa Supreme Court; legislative victories in Vermont and Maine; and additional victories on the horizon in New Jersey and New York. Across the country, public opinion is shifting decisively in our favor. Five states have now embraced full marriage equality for same-sex couples, and more are expected to join that list this year. It is devastating that California is no longer one of them. But rest assured: we will be again.

As I wade through my many emotions—heartache, disappointment, grief, anger, and disbelief—one thing is clear: we will regain the freedom to marry in California. It is now up to the people of this state to restore California’s national stature and once again embrace inclusion, fairness, and equality for all.

Together, we will be the first state to repeal a marriage ban at the ballot.

Over the past few months, I have participated in town halls across the state. In every community, I have been moved and encouraged by the resilience and strength of our community and our allies. I have been reminded that we have weathered far worse storms. We fought back against the criminalization of our relationships and violence at the hands of government officials and police, and we must remember that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. We fought back against efforts to strip us of custody of our children. We fought back against medical authorities when they pathologized our love. And we continue to fight against an epidemic that still claims the lives of far too many. By being our authentic selves, by demanding change and full equality, we have changed the law and transformed public opinion. And we have built one of the strongest movements for human freedom and equality of our time.

We must now use that strength to reverse Prop 8 at the ballot. As we band together to realize that goal, the more than 18,000 married same-sex couples must be our ambassadors. They must help others regain the equality that now only some of us enjoy. We must also call on fair-minded Californians to stand with us, come to know our families, and undo the damage caused by Prop 8. Let’s harness the remarkable grassroots energy and activism that sprung to life after Prop 8 passed and reclaim our state’s rightful place as a civil rights leader. We are unified. We are ready. We are resilient. We will stand together with our allies and we will be victorious.

This is not over.

In Solidarity,

kate signature

P.S. Listen to me this Thursday on KALW’s “Out in the Bay” live at 7:00 pm to discuss the ruling in depth.

P.P.S. I hope you’ll join me tonight at the Day of Decision rally and, even though I won’t be able to be there because of our annual gala, I hope you’ll be in Fresno on Saturday for Meet in the Middle.

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