It came as a surprise to no one when, on Wednesday, Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker threw out California Proposition 8 (2008) on grounds that it is unconstitutional.
This leaves me in an awkward situation. I agree with the ruling–Prop 8 violates the 14th amendment, which guarantees due process and equal protection. I’m even going to say it also violates the 1st amendment, in that I believe that marriage is primarily a religious institution, and government shouldn’t restrict who can marry whom, as long as all parties are in agreement.
At the same time, I’m trying to be a good Mormon. Really. I understand the Church’s opposition to gay marriage, even if I can’t explain it to anyone who hasn’t been to the Temple. (Not because of anything that happens in the Temple, mind, it’s just that you must have a certain level of faith and understanding before you can enter into the Temple.) But…bad things tend to happen when the Church gets mixed up in politics. Just ask Brigham Young and James Buchanan.
In 2008, I disagreed with Prop 8, but kept my mouth shut, partly because I’m a coward and knew I was in the minority, being surrounded by Mormons who apparently have more faith in their leaders than I do, and mostly because I was wrestling with my own feelings. Truth told, a big part of my opposition to Prop 8 came straight from a California native co-worker of mine who would wander around the office talking about how gays were a blight on society, and how he wished he was back in California so he could vote on it. (I wished he was back in California too. He wouldn’t shut up about how much better California is than Utah. Seriously, dude, no one is forcing you to live here.)
He was so hateful and bigoted–which I can’t stand on anyone. When I see people like that, it’s a knee-jerk reaction of mine to support whatever it is they are so hateful and bigoted against. And now, I’m seeing the same bigoted reaction coming from people who should know better.
The biggest complaint that I’m hearing goes along the lines of “The people voted for this. The government shouldn’t be throwing out what the people voted for. We’re a democracy, for cryin’ out loud.”
Okay, Corianne, deep breath. Let’s take this in a calm and reasonable manner.
The whole point of the Constitution and the Judicial Branch of government is to prevent laws that are unjust. The reason that Justice Walker threw out Prop 8 is because he found it unconstitutional. In fact, California Attorney General Jerry Brown chose not to defend Prop 8 in Perry v. Schwarzenegger (despite being named as a defendant) because he could see that it was unconstitutional. This wasn’t just some random guy deciding that he didn’t like the ruling.
The other thing, is the United States is not a democracy, it’s a constitutional republic. Citizens are not expected, or required to vote on every issue. There are times, when laws come up for popular vote–like California’s Proposition system, but those laws are not held sacrosanct simply because the people voted for them. They are subject to the same checks and balances as laws formed by the legislative branch.
We are far from hearing the end of this issue. I can guarantee that it will go all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States. In the mean time, I’d like to echo a portion the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saint’s official statement about the ruling–
“There is no doubt that today’s ruling will add to the marriage debate in this country, and we urge people on all sides of this issue to act in a spirit of mutual respect and civility toward those with a different opinion.”
“Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to break free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, but only if they speak English.”
One of the things that I’ve tried to avoid doing with “The Storyteller Chronicles” is turning it into a platform for my diatribes. Yes, I am opinionated, and I get annoyed with people who don’t share my opinions, but when I get into a debate, or a flame war, I rarely have the presence to find or recall the facts that back up my opinions, and I end up sounding shrill and fanatical, and lose by default.
There is one thing, though, that I would like to say. Bigotry and xenophobia don’t look good on anyone.
Recently, I’ve been buffeted by people wanting to ‘keep America pure’ by forcing everyone who comes here to learn English. They tend to express their opinions through loud, obnoxious, sweeping statements.
And have last names that probably came from places other than England to begin with.
Now, logically, I can understand xenophobia. Most of human history was protecting your family, your territory, your hunting grounds from other people. Who and what you were comfortable with is safe, those guys from the next valley over, though…you just can’t trust them.
As humanity grew, so did our culture, but not our instincts. We moved to towns and cities, and met people with different coloring, different clothing and different language than we have. Different is scary.
Different is what makes us interesting.
All people, but Americans especially, should know better. America was built by immigrants. We came in, usurped the native inhabitants, took their land and destroyed their culture. And now, we insist that everybody who comes here conforms to the way we do things?
I’ve started rebutting people who insist “This is America. We speak English.” by saying something like–“That’s right. When my ancestors came here, they learned to speak the native tongue–Navajo” or something similar. They usually don’t get it.
America is a land of diversity, it’s a part of who we are. Granted, I live in the most homogenized county in the most homogenized state in the union, but I still see a great amount of cultural and physical diversity. I’d like to think that by the 21st century we would have figured out that people are all the same–we have the same thoughts, feelings, desires and loves. But unfortunately…
Hopefully the alien invasion will come sooner rather than later. I’m afraid that the only way that mankind will realize that humanity is humanity is to be forced to contend with intelligence that isn’t human.