Sunday, October 26, 2008

Ignorance or malevolence?

Yesterday my spouse BP and I had reason to be driving through a conservative region of our home county here in southern California. On the street corners of the busy main drag we drove along were people holding up yellow "Yes on 8" signs and waving at cars that honked approvingly. I was driving but held my downturned thumb at the windshield where they could see it, and my beloved rolled down the passenger window and shouted "Bigots!" at the demonstrators.

We stopped at the local Costco to pick up some necessaries, and discussed our concern that our car with its "Obama '08" and "No on Prop8" stickers might be in some danger. Needless to say we ourselves were also aware that "they don't like our kind" where we were, and took pains to be some distance apart from each other walking through the store. We aren't stereotypically "lesbian" in appearance but it's pretty clear we are shopping for a common household. One woman asked us a question about wine in the wine section, but her husband/boyfriend looked askance and hustled her away.

This whole experience depressed me for the rest of the day, as did the news that one of BP's fellow choir members was sending out "yes on 8" emails to the other choir members--though not BP herself. (While aware of BP's marriage, I'm not sure that the sender knows that most of the other choir members were at our wedding and several had very active roles in the celebration thereof!)

Somehow, BP is not as depressed about this as I am and has more forebearance for example with her choir-mate. She ascribes their bigoted opposition to ignorance or stupidity, whereas I put it down to hatred and malevolence.

My visceral response, feeling like I have been kicked in the stomach when I see their signs, is shared by at least one of our gay friends, who like me is a non-believer. I know some of the pro-8 people (like BP's choir member) and I do not think they are stupid. Therefore I consider their opposition to us indefensible, rooted in hatred and subdued violence. I have no respect for them, any more than I respect racists or sexists.

Perhaps it is because BP is a real Christian (which we all know I am not) that she can forgive and excuse the opposition.

Update: The latest from the No-on-8 campaign:
"Armageddon"...That's what evangelical leader Charles W. Colson and Family Research Council President Tony Perkins said about Prop 8, calling it the "decisive last stand" in this morning's New York Times.

The pro-hate forces are trying to raise $2million for the last week.

BP and I are donating more, and will join our friends demonstrating against Hate this weekend. Will you help? Donate, sign up to make calls, write letters, demonstrate.

Update 2, for some arguments against the bigots, try the Who Voted on YOUR marriage? site.


Reuven said...

These folks are unbelievable! Here's the TRUTH direct from the source.

dr.primrose said...

Our parish was in a bit of a tizzy this weekend. We received something in the mail from something called The Judeo-Christian View (Vol. 1., No. 1 -- how convenient, so close to election day!!) which proclaimed on the envelope that it was about "Obama, McCain, Same-Sex Marriage and Child Sacrifice."

Everyone jumped to the conclusion that this group was somehow arguing that Same-Sex Marriage led to Child Sacrifice and couldn't figure out how anyone could attempt to make that connection.

But a closer look on the inside revealed that it was a screed against Obama, signed by a bunch of conservative Christian and Jewish clergy. (So much for the IRS bans on clergy taking positions on political candidates [as opposed to issues.])

They claimed that Obama was in favor of same-sex marriage, a claim that is, unfortunatley, untrue. Child sacrifice, with appropriate Biblical citations to children being sacrificed to Molech, turns out to be late-term abortions (and some rants about militant Muslims sacrificing their children as suicide bombers).

This stuff is scary stuff. And with a bit over a week to go until the election, I'm afraid we're going to see some really scary stuff between now and then.

Erp said...

Actually clergy as individual citizens can endorse candidates but cannot do so using any resources of a tax-exempt organization (e.g., they can't do so from the pulpit, in the parish newsletter, in the parish web site, or using parish funds) or imply they are speaking for the organization in this matter.

Some clergy are testing the limits on pulpit endorsements though.

Lisa Fox said...

IT, I'm in a miserably blue state, but fortunately we don't have anything like your Prop 8 on our ballot ... this time.

But I've been where you are -- feeling the hate. Like you, I feel it as hate, not just the ignorance that your BP senses. It is scary s**t!

It grieves my soul that so-called "Christians" are so much more adept at hating than are agnostics and atheists. Jesus must weep at our modern-day Pharisees and Saducees.

James said...

IT; you have my sympathy.I agree with your assessment of the bigots. They don't have the bullocks to say things to BPs face so they do it behind her back while posing as Christians. They really are an abomination in God's eyes.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Yes, it´s fear/hate...any LGBT who has grown up amongst EVERYONE else KNOWS the slurs are filled with fear and hate and can be dangerous and sometimes deadly...we´re all lucky to be alive much less politiking for acceptance, justice, equality...really, we´ve come a long way...we´re not going back...sorry, they´ll just need to do what they´ve always done...scream their filthy lungs out and we can take the necessary precautions, listen, react or not...always remember to pick your ground/reactions carefully and save yourself from spontaneous, and insane, violence that could come your can pray for their souls later if you´re so inclined.

Fred Schwartz said...

I just came back from convention and a person who I believe is fully committed to LGBT rights (in fact basic rights for everyone) BUT says, we need to take it slowly in order to win back some of our errant brothers and sisters. I nearly fell out of my chair! This person is an intelligent person who seems to think that race and ethnic identity some how are larger than the LGBT issue and so rights for this group can come more gradually. What the ? I fear much more work needs to be done and in one big hurry!

Lynn said...

Fred and all,

I used to have a fair amount of compassion for the take-it-slowly types. But there are so many cats jumping out of the bag now, you might as well make a stand.

However, I do still hold respect for those that are still listening and want to know more. That doesn't mean I advocate that we stop the world from turning for them. Actually, just the opposite - when they start seeing how ordinary married couples like IT and spouse are living their lives, they'll start coming around. No exposure=no reason to think.

dr.primrose said...

Al Martinez has an interesting column along these lines in today's Los Angeles Times -- God, gay marriage and one furious man. It begins:

"I know a man in Riverside named Harvey who goes ballistic whenever I broach the subject of Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriages in California. His eyes narrow, his voice rises and he gets absolutely squeaky with rage over the possibility of Gus and Homer getting married.

"Gus and Homer are not their real names. They live down the block from Harvey and try to be as friendly as possible even though they know he loathes them. They have been together for years and only recently have begun talking about tying the knot.

"Harvey, being an evangelical Christian, cannot stand the idea of two men walking down the street holding hands, much less indulging in more intimate expressions of love in the privacy of their bedroom. He considers himself a real man and would gladly beat the crap out of both Gus and Homer if they weren't bigger and stronger than he is. "

Counterlight said...

If there is any silver lining to this, then this aging queen remembers back to Anita Bryant days and before when legislation like this passed easily as a matter of course, and by overwhelming margins, even in tolerant liberal places like Boston and San Francisco.
That this measure is even in doubt at all of passage, and that the bigots are so worried is real progress.
If, God forbid, the legislation passes, then it will probably be overturned in the next election, or the one after that. California is a big diverse, and politically volatile place. Anything can happen, including defeat of this measure November 4th.

As John Maynard Keynes once said, in the long run, we're all dead.

But as MLK always said, the arc of history may be long, but it arcs toward Justice.

That's not much consolation, but there is hope out there. Maybe that's what BP sees.

James said...

I am in in the "slow = injustice" camp. If the 1960s civil rights movement had been taht "slow so we can win people over" we would still have Jim Crow laws on the books.

The reason the fundamentalist are pouring so much money in to the Yes campaign in California is because they know if California goes the justice rout, it is all over for the homophobic bigots. How California votes on this will have a tremendous impact on the rest of the nation in regards to equal justice under the law.

As Dr. King said, "injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere."

Counterlight said...

Who's a gradualist? Not me.
All I'm saying is, if not now, then definitely tomorrow.
If the Proposition passes, we'll fight another day until it's defeated.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

No, we keep moving no matter what...we always have...that´s what we do...we ignore, we forgive, we take issue, we get angry, we mellowout...but still, we are HERE with everyone else...we are your fathers, mothers, sisters and brothers and we are your best friends and coworkers...and as I just said, we´re not going anywhere even if you let us down again...clearly, the character defects are coming out of the isn´t a surprise to me that the most disturbed members of humanity are terrorfilled bigots.

Leonardo Ricardo said...

and another thing (while I´m ranting)...I truly believe that Rove and Bush initiated the popular practice that it is ok to demean and demoralize fellow citizens openly...prior to their underhanded campaigning it was more of a secret/quiet type hate and loathing (such as racial challenged murderers in hiding with hoods on)...but, fundamentalist blowhards everywhere flocked together with thoughts of riches and witches in the last decade after Karl Rove, Dobson and Rush (the addict) attempted to make vileness commonplace and blantant hating and demonizing of fellow Americans a NEW NATIONAL SPORT! One thing you have to say about these creepy guys is that they certainly know how to BRING OUT THE WORST IN EVERYONE!

Meanwhile the Republicans wonder what happened to the quality of their message/collective personage as they continue to throw FILTH about freely.

David said...

And why is it that these unspeakable gits always use "Family" to try and support their bigotry & hate ? "Family Research Council," "Focus on the Family"... :P

I wouldn't let these people anywhere near my family!

dr.primrose said...

Interesting story in today's Los Angeles Daily Journal about the involvement of lawyers in Prop. 8 (which is not easily available on-line):

Same-Sex Marriage Initiative Polarizes Legal Community

By Amanda Becker
Daily Journal Staff Writer

LOS ANGELES - The face on the campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California is an attorney.

Richard Peterson, a Pepperdine law professor, stars in commercials that encourage people to vote yes on Proposition 8, a ballot initiative that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"When Massachusetts legalized gay marriage, schools began teaching second-graders that boys can marry boys, and the courts ruled that parents had no legal right to object," Peterson says in the ad.

As he finishes his speech, a gavel drops.

Peterson, it seems, thinks the debate surrounding Proposition 8 is a closed case. But contributions from many of his colleagues suggest the verdict is still out.

The California Marriage Protection Act has prompted more than 2,600 attorneys, judges and law professors to write checks totaling at least $1.6 million, but the committees that oppose the measure received 14 percent more money from the legal community than those who support it, an analysis by the Daily Journal shows.

Individual donations from the legal community to No on 8 committees outnumbered those to Yes on 8 committees 3-to-1. The ratio doesn't surprise groups working to defeat the measure that have targeted attorneys as likely allies.

"We knew that lawyers understand how important the law is and would appreciate the enormous significance of changing our Constitution to discriminate against a group of people," said Shannon Minter, the legal director at the National Center for Lesbian Rights.

The initiative isn't the first time California attorneys have organized around same-sex marriage. Proposition 22, which Californians passed with 61 percent of the vote in 2000, placed a statutory ban on same-sex marriage. That statute was struck down in May by the California Supreme Court's 4-3 decision that it was unconstitutional. In re Marriage Cases, 2008 DJDAR 7079.

The Los Angeles County and San Francisco bar associations wrote amicus curiae briefs in the case, and they, along with the San Diego Bar Association and the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations, publicly oppose Proposition 8. The Orange County Bar Association had not, at press time, taken a position.

But lawyers are not a monolithic group, and California attorneys are also powerful forces in the campaign to sell Proposition 8 to voters.

Attorneys who contributed to Yes on 8 committees were often sole practitioners and law firm partners in San Diego and Orange counties. Two sole practitions are general counsel to the two largest committees that support the initiative, Protect Marriage and the National Organization for Marriage.

In all, more than 600 attorneys, judges and law professors generated $738,000 to support the Yes on 8 campaign. Attorneys contacted for this article cited religion, family and judicial activism as the reasons for their support.

"There is something that's so fundamentally sound about marriage between a man and a woman," said Newport Beach attorney Rowland Day, who contributed $25,000 to support Proposition 8. "I thought the judges [in In Re Marriage Cases] stepped out of line and really attempted to legislate from the bench."

While no medium- or large-sized firms made a contribution to Yes on 8 committees in the firm's name, attorneys at Knobbe Martens, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton and Kirland & Ellis collectively made large contributions.

Checks written to No on 8 committees, by contrast, tended to be in smaller amounts and from attorneys in Los Angeles and San Francisco. Nearly 2,000 attorneys, judges and law professors made contributions that totaled more than $839,000 for committees that oppose the constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.

Support from individual attorneys at Lieff, Cabraser, Heimann & Bernstein, Morrison & Foerster, Calwell, Leslie & Proctor, Irell & Manella and Latham & Watkins added up to more than $25,000 per firm.

Three firms - Cotchett, Pitre & McCarthy; Coblentz, Patch, Duffy & Bass and Stock Stephens - made contributions of more than $10,000 each under the firm's name.

Attorneys who made these donations said that the court's decision to allow same-sex marriage was similar to past cases when the court stepped in to protect civil rights.

"It's akin to people who have found past court-imposed civil rights decisions to be against public will, when, in fact, that's the role of the court," said Eric Webber, an Irell & Manella partner who donated $25,000 to defeat the measure.

The ballot initiative has divided attorneys within law firms and professors within law schools.

The Yes on 8 committee complied with Pepperdine's request to remove the school's name from Peterson's television ad - but it reappeared several days later in smaller type.

Attorneys at Latham & Watkins and Palo Alto-based Cooley, Godward, Kronish contributed significant amounts to both support and oppose the measure.

While Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe attorneys raised far more to defeat the initiative than support it, tax partner Dean Criddle's $5,000 contribution to Yes on 8 prompted an angry e-mail from of counsel Cameron Wolfe, according to the popular legal blog Above the Law.

Wolfe, who practices in the firm's San Francisco office, did not return calls for comment.

Contributions continued to pour in after the latest filing deadline that were not included in the Daily Journal's analysis. No on 8 committees recently received $25,000 from the Bay Area Lawyers for Individual Freedom and $1 million from the California Teachers Association.

No on 8 representatives say the staggering totals of each campaign are deceiving because small committees bundle individual contributions for another, but experts say that Proposition 8 clearly has struck a chord.

"Historically, the most expensive propositions - those with contributions over $100 million - have involved industries with deep pockets, such as oil, tobacco, gambling," said John Matsusaka at USC Gould School of Law's Initiative and Referendum Institute. "Contributions for Prop. 8 - $55 million by early October - have already set a record for a social issue, and could end up on the list of the 10 most expensive campaigns of any issue."

Matsusaka added that Arizona and Florida also have same-sex marriage bans on their November ballots.

This article appears on Page 1

James said...

Counterlight, your comment made me think of LBJ's last public appearance. Speaking of Civil Rights and his "Great Society he said:

"If courage remains our constant companion, and if our efforts continue, and if our will is strong, and if our hearts are right – then my fellow Americans, I am confident we shall overcome."

dr.primrose said...

The No On 8 folks have a new ad featuring Senator Dianne Feinstein, which you can read about here.

As a Democratic official in California, she would almost have to support the "No" side of Prop. 8 as a matter of course. But I think it's significant that she's willing to do an ad. She's more conservative than many California Democratic officials -- certainly more so than the other California senator, Barbara Boxer. The joke used to be that, if she lived anywhere else other than San Francisco, she'd probably would have been a Republican (of the Rockerfeller stripe, but a Republican nonetheless).

This is a good thing for the "No" side.

IT said...

Nice one.

Where's Arnie's?


dr.primrose said...

According to this story in today's Sacramento Bee, this is where Arnie and Maria are:

"California first lady Maria Shriver found something in common with her Republican husband: They both oppose Proposition 8's gay marriage ban. 'I believe in a people's right to choose a partner that they love,' Shriver said on a televised public affairs program. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, is focused on Proposition 11's redistricting overhaul, his campaign spokeswoman said."

Arnie's not saying a lot about Prop. 8 at this point. Thank God Maria is!!