Well, here it is 2012, four years since I first posted this entry, and I surprised even myself with how pertinent the words/thoughts still are today. Funny how those silly concepts of equality, equal protection under the law, and life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness just seem to remain eminently contentious for the GOP, the Tea Party, the Mormons, the Catholic Church. Ah, as Ferlinghetti so aptly put it:
I am waiting
for a rebirth of wonder
and I am waiting
for someone to really discover America
and I am waiting
for the discovery
of a new symbolic western frontier
and I am waiting
for the American Eagle
to really spread its wings
and straighten up and fly right…
Addendum: Yes, I know. Addenda usually come at the end. But, this post, when originally written, should have begun with a very fundamental point that seems to get lost in all the blarney spouted with regard to same-sex marriage. The point is short, simple: the essential difference between marriages blest by a religious entity, and a marriage performed by the “state,” or a civil marriage, is the crux. There is no valid argument to support any notion that same-sex partners should expect, by governmental fiat (legislative, judicial), that they have a right to a religiously sanctioned marriage.
Although “separation of church and state” appears nowhere in the Constitution, the principle is long-standing and originated, I believe, with a notion articulated by Thomas Jefferson. I embrace this principle. Therefore, I have no expectation that any church, synagogue, mosque will, by governmental edict, be expected or required to perform same-sex marriages. There’s the separation. Let the theocratic priapists (sic) do or not do what they will. It is their right (yes, it’s in the Constitution, Amendment I: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof…”
The argument, then, where focus must be directed, is in the case of civil marriages. Civil marriage is a right of citizens of the United States. Therein lies the argument. Therein lies the petri dish upon which all eyes should be focused. Therein lies the battle. Either the promise of the Constitution envelops all citizens or it doesn’t.
It is probably important to note, first thing, that David and I have been together–our souls grappled within the bard’s hoop of steel–for
twenty-six years thirty years. Or, by the end of this month it will have been twenty-six years. A notable achievement for two gay men? Perhaps. But, for us, it has simply been a life–ahem, NOT a lifestyle–a journey we embarked upon in 1982, when the scourge of AIDS loomed as an likely inevitability. I believe we understood that our chance meeting in a darkly lit bar was an inevitability of another sort. Since then–and I know I have posted about this before, but in the context of this post it seems important to repeat–we have owned two houses, raised seven four-legged miracles of love and devotion, lost six of them, yes, to another inevitability; have excelled in careers, have trudged the path of love, disappointment, joy, pain, responsibility, loss, boredom, excitement… You get the point. We have simply endured, celebrated the simple gift of togetherness, a sharing of life’s little twists and turns.
Have we ever thought about marriage? Of course we have. Have we ever pondered the benefits of marriage, in a legal sense, to our particular situation? Of course we have. Have we ever reckoned the upside, the downside of marriage? Yes. Domestic partnership? Yes.
The passage of what is commonly referred to as Prop 8 in California is, for me, a study in what I have come to call–I believe I coined the phrase–theocratic priapism.
In May of this year, the California Supreme Court, in a 4-3 decision, (In re Marriage Cases), affirmed that “…the California legislative and initiative measure limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples violate the state constitutional right of same-sex couples and may be be used to prelude same-sex couples from marrying.” The majority opinion focused on the argument that laws directed at gay and lesbians are subject to “strict judicial scrutiny,” noting also that marriage is a fundamental right under the California constitution. The Court further noted that any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation is constitutionally suspect, therefore arguing that gays and lesbians constitute a suspect class. It is important to note that judicial review of such issues also rely upon what is termed the rational basis test, that, simply put, asks the question if a particular act by a government, including citizen initiatives, is a rational response–a means to an end–that may be LEGITIMATELY (Constitutionally) pursued by that government.
It is, perhaps, instructive to revisit the 1992 referendum, Amendment 2, that identified Colorado as the “hate state.”
Romer vs. Evans involved a statewide referendum that was passed by the electorate in 1992, with the result that several anti-discrimination ordinances which included sexual orientation in their verbiage were, via the referendum, ordered to be modified. Several Colorado cities– including Boulder, Aspen and Denver– had established these ordinances and the referendum, Amendment 2, wiped out the verbiage in these ordinances relating to sexual orientation.
Amendment 2 read: “No Protected Status Based on Homosexual, Lesbian or Bisexual Orientation. Neither the State of Colorado, through any of its branches or departments, nor any of its agencies, political subdivisions, municipalities or school districts, shall enact, adopt or enforce any statute, regulation, ordinance or policy whereby homosexual, lesbian or bisexual orientation, conduct, practices or relationships shall constitute or otherwise be the basis of or entitle any person or class of persons to have or claim any minority status, quota preferences, protected status or claim of discrimination. This Section of the Constitution shall be in all respects self-executing.”
Amendment 2 was overturned in the Denver District Court and the Colorado Supreme Court. It was taken up by the US Supreme Court with the conclusion of the majority, written by Justice Kennedy: We must conclude that Amendment 2 classifies homosexuals not to further a proper legislative end but to make them unequal to everyone else. This Colorado cannot do. A State cannot so deem a class of persons a stranger to its laws. Amendment 2 violates the Equal Protection Clause, and the judgment of the Supreme Court of Colorado is affirmed.
The dissent from the Supreme court was led by Rehnquist, Scalia and Thomas. The dissent begins: “The Court had mistaken a Kulturkampf for a fit of spite.” Lawd give me strength. (Kulturkampf)
Okay. First thought here is that those who opposed Prop 8, should take a close look at Romer v. Evans; Colorado’s experience with an attempt, via referendum, to codify discrimination against gay and lesbian folk in opposition to the Equal Protection Clause of the Constitution.
Second thought here is that theocratic priapism continues to drive the bus of intolerance, fear, unconscionable disregard for the promise of the Constitution with regard to gay and lesbian rights, including same-sex marriage.
The Mormons Church is are reported to have contributed 40 percent of the funding (I’ve read estimated figures of total funding on the Pro side from a low $40Million to a high of $80Million) for the pro Prop 8 campaign. Indeed, the Mormon Church has, for more than ten years (most likely, longer) pondered, planned, acted to defeat same-sex marriage initiatives under the guise of “Pro-Family.” It is also interesting to note that Mormon President Gordon Hinckley cautioned his inner circle that the LDS Church should not be perceived to be the “leader” in any such efforts. Rather, he suggested, the LDS Church should hook-up with the Roman Catholic Church, whose opposition to same-sex marriage was out front, unashamedly vocal, unashamedly political.
As an aside, in this video you see Mormon President Hinkley tell Larry King, “We love these [gay] people. We try to work with them and help them. We know they have a problem, and we want to help them solve that problem.” Well, my sexuality is not a problem that needs solving. I “solved” the truth of myself many, many years ago. I suppose what Mister Hinkley doesn’t understand is that society if rife with REAL “problems.” I don’t need to provide a litany of those “problems” here. And, admittedly, the Mormon Church address some of those REAL problems, albeit in their indisputable paternalistic manner. But, as I noted at the beginning of this post, my problems are pretty much the same as anyone else who has a FAMILY, owns property, cares about their neighborhood and their neighbors, cares about all God’s critters, crunches the numbers when it comes to the needs/wants of the FAMILY–food, mortgage, utilities, new gadgets, upkeep on the old house. Yeah, sounds pretty much like any other family’s problems, Mormons included.
The Mormon strategy of grabbing hold of the coat…, um, skirt tails of the princes of the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of same-sex marriage is, at once, both troublesome from an empirical view and counter-intuitive to Catholic dogma. Indeed, last time I checked, the Roman Church has little love for the LDS folks and vice versa. Be that as it may, these egregiously paternalistic institutions, apparently find themselves comfortable bed-partners in this skirmish to preserve “traditional” marriage, supposedly the foundation of Western moral tradition. Uh-huh, yeah. Western moral tradition is in big trouble, buckaroos, if the bulwark of the same is encapsulated in “traditional marriage” when fifty percent of those HETEROSEXUAL marriages end in divorce.
I’ve really gone on too long here. But, finally, let me just provide a review of the philosophy of a prince of the Roman Church who could probably be viewed as a stellar example of the particular polemic aptly categorized as theocratic priapism.
Here are the links to comments I’ve made with regard to the political, yes POLITICAL activism of one Archbishop Charlie Chaput–the “stellar example” I referred to above: Here and here, here, here, here and, finally, here. (I guess the fact I’ve been blogging for so long, and have addressed the “Chaput” crapola over and over again, gives me some leeway in either repeating what I’ve already said, or just, simply, providing links that, well, save me a whole lot of typing.)
Conclusions are easy. Theocratic priapism has infested America as surely as that of Muslim nations. Granted, Christians don’t usually favor the cutting off of one’s hand for petty offenses, death by stoning for major offenses. But, then, is it so hard to liken such theocratically inspired punishments to the hurt, the pain, the grief of good people whose only “crime” is that they happen to love one another, and wish to enshrine that love within the RIGHTS supposedly promised by a Constitution that surely was written within the context of a prior little footnote of history called the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”