Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Proposition 8 stands. And that's a good thing.

Minutes ago the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that bans gay marriage. Anyone who reads my blog regularly knows that I stand foursquare for allowing gays to marry, so this may come as something of a shock, but I think that in the long run this will prove to be a good thing for gay rights.

The overarching social trend in the United States is clear: the bigotry that drives people to deny gays the right to marry the people they love resides mostly in the older generation. Both are slowly but surely dying, and good riddance. It is therefore a matter of when, not if, Proposition 8 is ultimately reversed by the people and this shameful episode is relegated to the history books. But if the court had overturned Proposition 8 that would have energized the forces of bigotry and caused them to redouble their efforts. The fight would have been long and drawn out, probably over decades, just as it has been with abortion rights.

This way, it is those who support tolerance and freedom who are energized, as they should have been but weren't last year. Early polls showing Proposition 8 failing by 10 points caused supporters of gay rights to become complacent that the earlier California Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage would simply stand. But this was naive. Court decisions enforcing radical social changes rarely stand the test of time. At the end of the day (or the decade as the case may be) it is the people who decide.

So what will happen now is that there will be another proposition on the ballot in 2010 to overturn Proposition 8, and it will pass. It will pass by an overwhelmingly greater margin than did prop 8. It will pass because this time supporters of gay rights will not be complacent. It will pass because by November of 2010 the tide of history will be clearly turning against bigotry. While California denied its citizens equal rights, three other states have granted them and two others are poised to do so in the coming months. Furthermore, Californians will have been living for two years with 18,000 married gay couples in their midst and they will see that the sky has not fallen. It will be impossible in 2010 to paint gay marriage as the bogeyman because the bogeyman lives only in the abstract. But gay marriage is here, and the unraveling of the social fabric that was supposed to accompany it is not. In 2010 it will be impossible to condemn gay marriage without appearing manifestly delusional.

Proposition 8 will be overturned in 2010 because the forces of righteousness will be on the march as they were not in 2008 and the bigots will have nowhere left to turn. So hang in there, my gay brothers and sisters, justice is coming. And it is coming a lot sooner and with greater finality than it would have if the court decision had gone the other way.

14 comments:

Will said...

As someone who is 61 and thus probably in your eyes a member of the "older generation," I find your "good riddance" comment just as bigoted as the opinion you condemn and thus highly offensive.

Of course, it's possible that you do not know the definition of the word "bigotry." I can assure you that it does not mean holding a different opinion than yours.

Ron said...

You're right, it is offensive. I apologize. I meant good riddance to the bigotry, not to the people, but that's not what I wrote. I just didn't think it through.

Will said...

I appreciate that much, at least. I'll take it on faith that you don't mean to do me and my ilk in.

Here's the definition of bigot: "a person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices ; especially : one who regards or treats the members of a group (as a racial or ethnic group) with hatred and intolerance"

You are tarring the "older generation" with the brush of bigotry. I hope you can see the irony.

Ron said...

> You are tarring the "older generation" with the brush of bigotry.

No, I don't think I am. That prejudice against gays is more prevalent among older people than younger people is simply a fact. I never said, nor meant to imply, that *all* old people are prejudiced against gays, or that old people should be treated with hatred or intolerance because they are prejudiced against gays or anything like that.

Will said...

Then why use the term bigotry at all?

Ron said...

Because I believe in calling things by their rightful names.

Will said...

Some people do not believe in same sex marriage. How is that bigoted?

Ron said...

> Some people do not believe in same sex marriage. How is that bigoted?

In exactly the same way that not "believing in" (whatever that means) interracial marriage is bigoted. (It is thus a staggering irony that blacks are overwhelmingly opposed to gay marriage, enough to have swung the vote on Prop 8. The oppressed have become the oppressors.)

Will said...

People of faith, not just blacks, are overwhelmingly opposed to same sex marriage. The black community is overwhelmingly of faith.

I want you to understand something. I don't care what your position on this matter is - you are entitled to your opinion, you are entitled to voice it, and you are entitled to be treated respectfully about it.

So are those who disagree with you. Calling them "bigots" is hardly respectful.

Ron said...

> People of faith, not just blacks, are overwhelmingly opposed to same sex marriage.

But people of faith have not in general been the victims of institutionalized discrimination the way blacks have, and I was talking about irony. (BTW, it is not quite true that "people of faith" oppose gay marriage. People of *some* faiths oppose gay marriage. In particular, evangelical Christians tend to be opposed to gay marriage, and blacks, at least in the U.S., tend to be evangelical Christians. But there are other faiths whose adherents do not subscribe to this point of view. It is disingenuous to co-opt them by saying that "people of faith" oppose gay marriage. That's rather like saying that Californians oppose gay marriage, which strictly speaking may be true, but badly misses the point.)

> you are entitled to be treated respectfully about it. So are those who disagree with you.

No, I'm sorry, I don't agree. There are some points of view that are not entitled to be treated with respect. In particular, the point of view that some humans are not entitled to the same rights and privileges as other humans because of their circumstances is not entitled to be treated with respect. The proposition that gays are not entitled to marry the ones they love because they are gay has the same moral standing as the proposition that black people are not entitled to marry the ones they love because they are black. Both points of view are equally reprehensible, and neither deserves to be treated with any respect whatsoever. To the contrary, the views themselves deserve contempt and disdain, and those who adhere to them deserve, at best, pity.

It is worth noting, by the way, that back when it was fashionable to discriminate against blacks, that discrimination was carried out overwhelmingly by adherents to the same faiths that today support discrimination against gays, and using the exact same arguments. History is repeating itself in almost every detail.

Will said...

We are at an impasse, then.

Thanks for the retraction of "good riddance."

Ron said...

> We are at an impasse, then.

Really? So you believe that people who support institutionalized discrimination against blacks deserve to have their views respected? If so then we really will have to agree to disagree on that and submit that dispute to the judgement of history. But if not then I'm going to have to ask you to clarify your position: If some views deserve respect and others don't, how is one supposed to tell which is which?

Will said...

The impasse is about the definition of bigotry.

Your "So you believe..." remark above is nowhere near anything I've written here and is directly insulting. I do not believe that or anything close to that.

In fact, I've not said what I believe here on any matter. I've only objected to being lumped into a group that you call bigoted - "the older generation" - and to whom you expressly wished ill. That's it.

Ron said...

Oh, that's not an impasse, that's a simple misunderstanding. I *never* said, nor meant to imply, that all old people are bigots. I only said (and I stand by this) that people who would use the force of law to deny gays the right to marry whom they love are bigoted, that such bigots are more likely to be old than young (which is simply a fact), and that it is therefore virtually inevitable that Proposition 8 will be reversed sooner or later, and so we might as well do it sooner than later. The longer we wait the greater our collective shame.

I have no idea whether you, Will, are a bigot or not. All I know about you is that you're 61, and I'm sure there are plenty of 61-year-olds who are not bigots, just as there are many 18-year-olds who are.

So let me just ask you directly, Will: what is your position on gay marriage? I don't need to know how you feel about it *personally* -- that's your business -- only whether you think that it ought to be against the law for gay people to marry the ones they love.