SACRAMENTO, CA –

Early on in the battle against Proposition 8 here in California, I told one of my lesbian friends that I was fiercely opposed to the initiative, but that I felt like it wasn’t really my place to be angry since it wasn’t really my battle.

“Are you kidding? We need you and other straight people like you on our side. We won’t win this proposition without that support,” she told me then.

At the time I thought she was only humoring me. I didn’t realize how true those words were until now. Statistically, the LGBT community really did need us straight people to vote down that proposition. Only 1 in 10 Californians are part of the LGBT community, which means, of the votes cast on Nov. 4 in opposition to the now-infamous Prop. 8, more than 4 million of them came from heterosexuals in support of their gay neighbors, friends and family.

There were also plenty of religious people and clergy who voted against this proposition as well – the few who were able to look past the flurry of lies thought up by the proponents of this measure. This is important to note as the LGBT community continues fighting for equality in California and elsewhere. Churches all over California have been targets for protesters, including a church here in Sacramento that fully supported the No on 8 campaign, and even spoke at a rally here on Sunday. I understand the desire to blame somebody for this egregious error in Californian voters’ judgment, but not all churches took part and it’s not any more fair for us to put them all in the same boat (no matter how much I find myself doing the same thing most days) than it is for them to do so to us.

This proposition has brought out some ugly sentiments on both sides of the ticket, but I have to say I feel like the gays are more justified in their distaste for the Yes on 8 people than the other way around. The utter hypocrisy of the proponents of Prop. 8 is what really gets to me. Every day I read about someone calling the pending lawsuit “frivolous,” or someone saying boycotts against companies and churches that supported proposition 8 are “witch hunts,” as though they wouldn’t have taken the exact same measures if the proposition had failed. I’m sure they would have called for a boycott of Google and Apple (as though anybody could resist these corporate favorites). Even worse, they would have put the gay marriage ban back on the ballot for next year (just like Prop. 4 seems to appear every year even though the majority of Californians have voted against it three times now).

I think what really bothers the supporters of the gay marriage ban is that they didn’t think the gay community would come together and get organized so quickly after the election. Granted, it probably would have helped to be more organized before the election, but the point is they’ve come together now and they don’t show any signs of letting up. And I think it scares the anti-gay people even more than gay marriage did – especially because it seems to be working.

Just yesterday, the CEO for a local theater company here in Sacramento had to resign because a boycott was called against the theater company (which is largely staffed and supported by the gay community, I might add) when word got around that the CEO donated $1,000 to the Yes on 8 campaign. All this fuss is still making headlines more than a week later as gay rights activists put together daily rallies throughout the state.

More than 5,000 people showed up to the rally on Sunday, Nov. 9

More than 5,000 people were at the Sacramento rally on Sunday, Nov. 9

It’s exciting to see this movement gain momentum. And, I think, it’s also important to note that this isn’t just about gay marriage. For some reason, marriage and adoption rights have stolen the spotlight on gay rights issues – perhaps because these are issues whose consequences are felt immediately and effect the biggest LGBT population.

But there are a number of other equality issues where all of us should be standing up for the gay community: First, let’s talk about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. Does it seem ludicrous to anyone else that you can be fired from the military for coming out as a gay or lesbian? These people have volunteered to fight for our country and we’re giving them walking papers because we don’t agree with their lifestyle? In a time of TWO wars?

Of course changing DADT might extend to the Employment Non-Disrimination Act – you know, the thing that keeps you from facing workplace discrimination based on race, religion, sex, national origin, age and disability? The only thing not covered in that act: sexual orientation. In 31 states it’s still legal to refuse to hire someone – and be fired – because of sexual orientation. But hey, if DADT’s good enough for the U.S. Military it’s good enough for corporations right?

At the rally I attended this past Sunday, one of the speakers made a great point on just this topic. He was urging everyone at the rally to come out – not just to their family and friends, but also to their co-workers. I remember him saying that one of the strengths the community has right now is that they’ve been able to hide in the open for so long. They’ve been able to become doctors and lawyers and educators without anyone standing in their way – as long as they keep it secret. And he said now’s the time to show everyone that the LGBT community is just as normal as any other community in this nation, not something to be afraid of.

This was coming from Chris Cabaldon, the Sacramento region’s first openly gay elected official – the mayor of West Sacramento. And here’s a sad fact: Just as his community was re-electing him by 16 points, they supported the gay marriage ban by a 6-point margin. He said something to the effect of: “This community can trust me to run the city, but they can’t trust me with a marriage license?”

I know there are a lot of people out there who are “sick of” all the noise the gay community is making right now, but I say it’s for good reason. Same sex marriage probably wasn’t their first choice as a right to fight for, but it was made their issue when states throughout this country started banning their right before they even asked for it. We saw in Arkansas that the religious right doesn’t plan to stop at same sex marriage when they’re taking away rights from the LGBT community. Marriage was just the beginning. So, really, they’ve been given no choice but to fight. And I plan to stand right there with them. The minority always needs others to stand with them, and I sincerely hope those of you who have been waiting on the sidelines thinking it’s not your fight will decide to join us too.

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REBECCA ADLER is from Sacramento, CA, where she is a grad student in applied linguistics and works as a freelance journalist. Her work has appeared in Jane & Jane, Sacramento Business Journal, and Comstock's Business Magazine, among others. She also keeps a book review blog and can be found on Facebook or Twitter.

2 responses to “It Was Never Just About Marriage”

  1. Original Comment Thread Below:

    26 Comments »

    Comment by Erika Rae
    2008-11-13 08:08:00

    Nicely done, Rebecca.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-13 14:07:45

    Thanks!
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by reno
    2008-11-13 11:31:48

    nice write, r.

    i could go on and on about this subject. as you may know, i’m a secular bonehead, don’t have a single religious bone in my body. and it pains me to know that what these people are really saying is that gays (because of some ancient scripture) are not human enough, their sinful, etc.

    they’re are treating them unfairly, like second class citizens, and have no problem whatsoever about their actions.

    i find this appauling. it makes me sad, too.

    these are people. brothers and sisters. mothers and fathers. put people. humans. they have hearts and thoughts, etc.

    why don’t we recognize this?

    i’m pissed at california – my birth state. could believe they let their own citizens down.

    they should have all rights. they simply needed to treaded fairly.

    anyhow, i’m writing a novel. great post. great voice.

    r
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Erika Rae
    2008-11-13 16:16:38

    I agree with you Reno – and it makes me sad, too.

    The strange thing is that the “ancient scripture” is not really substantiated. The Bible in total mentions homosexuality 7 times. But if you go back to the original Hebrew and Greek, the actual word that got translated into English was not “homosexual” at all – or was not meant to refer to a loving, committed relationship between two people of the same sex (although it’s possible that one of the passages in the New Testament could refer to this…hard to say definitively). One thing is certain, though, the concept as we know it of homosexuality did not have an actual word representing it in Hebrew or Greek – so how the hell did we end up translating it this way?

    People often point to the passage in Leviticus condemning two men lying together – but seriously…are we actually picking and choosing what we take literally from LEVITICUS? If we did, all women should be separated from everybody else when they have their period , we should be performing certain cleansing rituals with the eating of meat and nobody should be allowed to leave their house on the Sabbath. I don’t see this as a valid argument at all.

    In a couple cases the word that got translated into the English word/concept “homosexuality” had to do with having sex with temple prostitutes – and the passage on Sodom and Gomorrah had NOTHING to do with homosexuality whatsoever other than the fact that the evil men of the town wanted to “rape” the two guests of Lot in a standard warrior shame practice to emasculate them (so Lot offers up his daughter instead – capital guy). Ironically, the Sodom and Gomorrah passage actually has to do with hospitality towards outsiders. Oh yes – ironic indeed.

    Anyway, if anyone is interested in finding out what the Bible ACTUALLY says about homosexuality, a great book is by Daniel Helmaniak called “What the Bible Really Says about Homosexuality.” Clears up a lot of crap. The conclusion is that the Bible doesn’t actually say much at all about homosexuality (if anything) and that the religious right has done an excellent job attaching its own stigmas, prejudices and phobias onto the concept and are misusing Biblical scripture to do it.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Erika Rae
    2008-11-13 16:18:04

    OK, that was a seriously huge rant. I apologize.
    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Reply here

    Comment by reno
    2008-11-13 20:02:17

    erika-

    good evening. yes, i hear you. great write. you’ve done your homework.

    the breakdown/critique of religious scripture comes in tons of forms. language breakdowns, gross opinions, philosophical matters…

    still, regardless, i don’t get it. why these texts rule discourse, politics, life, is beyond me.

    i’m simply a man that goes on simple common sense. i don’t need some unknown writers, with their visions, telling me what to feel, how to judge, etc.

    they’re not credible. and mostly unknown. the “j” writer?

    was this writer jesus (we’re speaking of christianity here, of course)? i thought he didn’t write a single sentence.

    never.

    not a fucking word.

    we know (or should know) that the “published” writings in the bible was a political move to help achieve an agenda. a powerful agenda that killed 1000s. that choked even more.

    the folks behind nicea?

    the evidence of the dark ages, the inquisition? the crimes of today? – one of them being this CA joke?

    i have found better people in this life that don’t buy into this. good people. rational folk.

    people are people. in ALL of our diversity.

    this thinking limits us. it doesn’t free us. in fact, in makes a certain crowd that doesn’t believe this way, feel like shit, less than, on the outside. they go in hiding. they lie to keep their family, their life, not fucked with.

    is that the gospel? really? if that’s the case, i want nothing to do with it. and i’m a better person because of it.

    christian history is appauling (i’ll speak of them since they own this land). the proof is in the soup they’ve created. this is not my opinion. it’s historical fact. sure, these folk have done some good.

    but why?

    what were/are their intentions? to bargain their salvation? to save their ass?

    for the good of the group?

    or for economical and philosophical conquest? i’m thankful everyday that i’m not invided to their party, that i don’t sit at their table. they don’t deserve my presence.

    so now, i’m ranting. but CA made a grave mistake. a human and loving mistake.

    they have failed.

    great write. i hear you.

    (oh, by the way, thanks for the reference. i’ll look it up.)

    helping jesus,
    reno “the sinner” romero
    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-13 21:06:15

    Reno: Your comment made me think of this awesome quote that was on a linguistics test I took today: “…For such religion as has openly been practiced in this part of the world … has encouraged people to believe that the world is of no importance, and that their only obligation in it is to submit to certain churchly formulas in order to get to heaven. And so, the people who might have been expected to care most selflessly for the world have had their minds turned elsewhere – to a pursuit of “salvation” that was really only another form of gluttony and self-love, the desire to perpetuate their own small lives beyond the life of the world.”

    This comes from “At home on the earth” by David Landis Barnhill. I’m thinking of reading his book after just this one quote.

    Comment by reno
    2008-11-14 11:06:01

    great write, becca. i could never tackle something like this. sorry if i ruined your boards w/ my huge negative mouth. i guess this is why these days i’d rather read david sedaris than any so-called “heavy” reading.

    give me jokes! i cry constantly.

    thanks, again. have a wonderful day.

    hey, hey,
    reno romero

    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-14 12:33:57

    No, it’s great! I love the discourse that comes from issues like this, especially when they’re thoughtful – and thought-provoking – instead of just hurling insults. Talking about this stuff and getting people to think critically about it is so much better than just saying “because I said so” and moving on.

    Anyway, I appreciate comments no matter what 😉

    Reply here

    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-13 21:09:31

    Erika, Thanks for the book suggestion. I’m definitely going to pick it up. I think all of us who take the time to do some research are a bit appalled (OK, a lot appalled) by the way churches have been interpreting the Bible to push their own agenda. In truth, the Bible shouldn’t be considered sacred. If anything, it should be thought of as a very gruesome history book. But whatevs. I’m not going to change the minds of anyone who doesn’t want to take the time to question the motives and teachings of someone else, especially when it’s been taught with God behind it.
    (Comments wont nest below this level)
    Comment by Erika Rae
    2008-11-13 23:00:40

    Reno – I’m envious of you in a way – that you don’t have the religious baggage I do. ( : I think it’s refreshingly healthy to look at the world through eyes simply based on common sense. Unfortunately, I get how people are so influenced (as I once was) by the interpretations of a “sacred text.” When you’re in it, it’s everything. And it’s indisputable.

    Probably the biggest “disillusioner” that I experienced was my linguistics studies. What? There are several interpretations you say? What? PEOPLE wrote the 66 books of the Bible? And they didn’t always agree? But how could that be if God inspired them…?

    So sad the influence organized religion has had on the holocausts and inquisitions of the world. Surely the search for God was never meant to be that.

    Keep looking at the world through the eyes of common sense for the rest of us still trying to drop the suitcases so we can catch up. ( :

    Comment by reno
    2008-11-14 10:55:02

    (hey, didn’t this one turn into a marathon discussion…)

    thanks for your input.

    i guess that this subject simply breaks my heart. as a kid i was a HUGE christian. i went to youth meetings in the weekdays. on saturday i went to catechism. on sunday i went to mass.

    i carried my bible in my backpack. it never left my side. it was my “blanket” if you will.

    i prayed constantly.

    (having a disfunctional household had me praying for peace, love, etc.)

    this is how i lived. for years.

    i totally understand that when these books get in your heart that they are everything. and the peace the bible gave me as a kid helped me through rough times. i needed jesus. i loved him and he loved me.

    (in fact i still love jesus – the idea.)

    but the years pressed on and being a lover of literature i came across some things that opened my eyes and in the process my heart was ripped out.

    i became objective. i “looked” at other christians behavior. in fact i studied them constantly. and what i saw i simply couldn’t approve of.

    my religious studying days are over. still, i’ve read all of sam harris’ works, dennett, hume, mills, all those. but i just love knowledge. and for someone who walks around feeling like an idiot i could use all the help that i can get.

    and for this, i thank you.

    we carry on.

    and hopefully we can become better human beings in the process. understanding, giving, inviting, etc.

    we can use a little of this these days. so take care, my friend. we’ll chat soon.

    always,
    reno romero

    Reply here

    Comment by Dawn Corrigan
    2008-11-13 12:19:52

    Hey, Becca. Thanks for writing this. You know I share your frustration, but I do see a silver lining, inasmuch as historically when the shit has been really piled on in this country, in terms of someone’s civil rights, sometimes movement follows. And I think this may be the time for gay rights.

    I think the point about coming out is excellent. A friend of mine, who doesn’t share my optimism about our times, pointed out the other day that the vast majority of Americans still claim not to personally know any gay people. It’s easy to infer that this is a hindrance to their empathy. It’s also, of course, complete bullshit–all it means is their gaydar hasn’t been turned on yet. So if more people who are closeted can find the courage to come out, it may become harder for as many people to think of this as a “fringe” issue.

    On a practical note, coordinated protests are planned around the country this Saturday to protest Prop 8 and, here in Florida, Prop 2. Here’s a link to the activity page:

    http://jointheimpact.wetpaint.com/page/Florida

    I’ve linked to the Florida specific page but people can use the Site Page scroll navigation on the left to find out what’s happening in their state.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-13 14:01:57

    If you click on the “this movement” link in my post it will take you to the Sacramento site http://www.equalityactionnow.org, which lists events throughout California (and some in other states). I’ll be out there this Saturday too to show my support. Noon at City Hall in Sacramento if anyone is interested.

    And, I agree completely with the idea that it took this to start the movement in a forward direction again. Gay rights has been an issue for some 40 years and I think maybe people had become complacent, especially here in California where we all thought people were more accepting. This vote really woke people up – like a slap in the face.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Jen from Hyper Nonsense
    2008-11-13 12:44:34

    Very well written, Rebecca. I so agree with you.
    Only, I am way too angry at the people who voted Yes to have said it as calmly as you did.
    Great job!

    If you happen to want to know how I said it… it’s on my Inside My Head podcast. jen.phantompower.org. Look for the episode from Nov 5, called “Prop 8″. It’s a really angry rant.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-13 14:05:41

    Trust me, there’s a reason this post wasn’t written until more than a week after the vote. I was filled with complicated emotions when I heard the news – anger, frustration, sadness all mixed up inside me – so much so that I couldn’t have written anything without sounding just as ignorant as the people whose minds I’m trying to change. I feel like coming out in anger would only help them to push their agenda, saying “see, they’re all just a bunch of crazy hateful liberals,” in the same way that I find myself pointing the finger at all the “hateful religious zealots.” It definitely took a while for me to get my head in a place where I could say something productive on this issue.

    But I’m still angry.

    And I’m going to definitely check out your podcast! Thanks for sharing it. 🙂
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Rich Ferguson
    2008-11-13 13:51:34

    Excellent work, Rebecca. I’m only sorry that I didn’t weigh in sooner.

    As for LA, it’s been pretty exciting down here, too. All the rallies and such after the election. And as you said, it would’ve been nicer had they mobilized like this prior to the election. Still, better late than never. Can’t wait to see what happens next.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-13 14:07:26

    Think of it like waking the sleeping dragon.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Josie
    2008-11-13 20:19:38

    Of all the things in the world for people to get all worked up about, feel offended by, feel compelled to put a stop to, think its some righteous obligation on their part to fight against…

    I just wouldn’t think love would ever make it on that list.

    Love.
    Shall we vote on that?
    Shall we have a government that sanctions whom we can care for, want to be with, swoon over?

    Anyone whom has ever truly felt love knows it doesn’t have anything to do with legality or morals or ethics. It is a primal urge that cannot be denied. How can heterosexuals not understand this? Perhaps those who’ve voted yes on prop.8 have never actually known love…

    It is so beyond me how people can fight against same sex marriage that instead of anger it just makes me feel terribly sad for and ashamed of my fellow humans.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by amanda
    2008-11-14 08:24:34

    When gay marriage became legal in Canada, there was talk of overturning the legislation. During the federal election about a year later, the man who ultimately was elected prime minister included a campaign promise to hold a referendum on the issue…which tanked, and the right to marry a same-sex partner remains on the books. The thing is, despite his own religious leanings, you could tell the PM’s heart wasn’t really in it, and that he used the referendum more as a way to get everyone to shut up and accept that gay marriage is here to stay.

    The recent US election and the various propositions that went through were eye-opening to me. Banning single-parent adoptions and fostering? Revoking the right to marry? Limiting abortion rights?

    I guess I had always assumed that once something was made law, once it was put forth as a right to be enjoyed by a nation’s citizens, it was written in stone. In short, what’s happening in the US has made me feel exceptionally lucky, as well as exceptionally ignorant. I guess I have framed my rights as a given, when in fact some of them are a luxury.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-14 11:04:37

    I think about this all the time Amanda. Each time we get to a new election cycle and I see the same failed initiatives on the ballot AGAIN I wonder why there’s no laws that limit the number of times you can ask to overturn laws that have already been found legal under the constitution (this, of course, is me talking about all the anti-choice initiatives we see each year). Prop. 8 really got to me too because it was just found ILLEGAL in the state of California in May of this year and now we have to take it back to the Supreme Court and hope that they come to the same conclusion again. It seems like an awful big waste of money to keep putting everyone through this cycle. I don’t understand why they can’t just let people live their lives. Why is it so important for them to make sure we’re living our lives the way they want us to?
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by Callan54
    2008-11-14 08:36:15

    Right on sista.

    The hypocrisy, the bigotry, well the whole thing makes me sick. You just got me worked up about the military bigots too. gahhhh!
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-14 11:06:05

    Yeah, I think with all this talk about marriage, a lot of people have forgotten how many other laws out there are discriminatory against gay people. Hopefully Obama will be able to rectify the gross injustice of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’m sure the crazies will be up in arms over it – even though they supposedly support our troops (just not if they’re gay).
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by jmb
    2008-11-14 10:20:08

    Sorry I’m late to this discussion.

    I used to have an old mutt dog named Stormy.
    She was of uncertain origins and sort of ugly and ragged and she didnt know any tricks
    except love.
    I could never debate that dog’s worth to me – she was no pure breed, no watchdog, not much to look at, couldnt fetch a stick.

    I guess, for me, Jesus, the Bible are sort of like Stormy.

    Either way, good words from all.

    You guys are pretty close to the Kingdom indeed.

    Not that anyone asked, but I think the Bible speaks pretty clear on this situation and to me it says this:

    Be good to people. All people.
    Even people different from you.
    And, it’s OK to be good to yourself as well.

    See, Lenny Kravitz was a prophet.
    Reply to this comment
    Comment by Rebecca Adler
    2008-11-14 11:11:18

    JMB I always love your perspectives on things. And I agree wholeheartedly. There are many great teachings in the Bible and I wouldn’t be so negative about it if there weren’t so many Christian extremists out there shouting at me that God hates fags and that I’m going to hell because I’m pro-choice. I didn’t even have an abortion, but I’m going to hell because I think other people should be able to make that choice for themselves? One of those Jesus Screamers was on my campus the other day and he yelled that I was going to hell because I’m a woman getting an education and a baby killer (as if an education immediately makes me pro-choice). I just don’t understand the hatred that is often spewed from the mouths of people who so often preach love.

    Anyway, sorry about the rant. I didn’t mean to get all negative here when you said something so positive. I just wanted to say that I appreciate people like you who can take the good things from the Bible and treat all people well – because THAT’S what Jesus would have done.
    Reply to this comment

    Comment by John P
    2008-11-14 16:02:10

    This was great Rebecca. I’m still pissed and frustrated and sad so I can’t say anything constructive at the moment. As I mentioned in a comment to one of the posts after the election, I had hope for our country for a couple of hours after Obama won, then I saw that prop 8 was going to pass and that hope was greatly diminished. I just can’t understand the thinking behind supporting a ban on gay marriage. I’m not religious at all and have never read bible, but I can’t imagine that Jesus would support such hatred and discrimination. I like what Josie said above: of all the things to spend so much time, energy and money fighting, why would anyone pick love.
    Reply to this comment

  2. Rocman says:

    Thank you Vince, Maryam, and Hutch.Hutch, I like the storytelling acspet too, and as I mentioned, the dog was a great prop. I always loved the great profiles done by Leyendecker and Rockwell, really graphic, strong silhouettes with great lines and angles. I guess I was trying to incorporate some of that. If I were to do it over, I would probably have the ice cream clear away from her body, just for a better silhouette and a stronger read.

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