Jody May-ChangÂ© November 11, 2008 PrideDEPOT.com There is little doubt that even President-elect Obama’s opponents understand the significance and importance of electing the first African-American to the Presidency of the United States. To witness a beautiful black family make it to the White House is moving beyond words and brought almost everyone I know to tears. Although it is naive to assume that Obama’s election is a panacea for curing all inequality, it is a monumental step forward. This election has elevated us all and serves as a powerful example to the world that character really does matter more than color. While the country and the world watched and celebrated this historic victory, LGBT citizens took another devastating blow with the passage of California’s Proposition 8. While the country was lifted up with Obama’s message, “Yes we can!” LGBT citizens were smacked down with “No you can’t!” This is a referendum on our humanity that has swept the country’s LGBT population with betrayal and yet another assault on our rights as American citizens and as human beings. Last July, gay couples in California began to marry after the State Supreme Court ruled that the States ban was unconstitutional. Now only four months later, and with 18,000 marriages hanging in the balance, the passage of Proposition 8 overruled the court. Although it is unclear what will happen with the 18,000 marriages, we do know that previously granted civil rights have been rescinded and discriminatory language will be added to the California State Constitution, disallowing equal protection to only LGBT citizens. While the Obama presidency is being characterized as “a new progressive era,” LGBT citizens are still forced to defend our very personhood and fight for our right to exist equally under the law, and live as families. This is as repugnant to us as it has been for African-Americans, Native-Americans, Latinos and women who have all faced similar battles. There is an anti-gay industry in America that consists of a large coordinated coalition of far right evangelical religious leaders, advocacy groups and right-wing politicians. Their major focus is to promote anti-gay legislation that restricts rights of LGBT American citizens. The anti-gay agenda is executed by people such as, James Dobson, Tony Perkins, The Catholic League, John Hagee, Pat Robertson, The LDS Church, Ann Coulter, Sean Hannity, Micheal Savage, George W. Bush, Gen. Peter Pace and so many more. This anti-gay industry works hard to degrade and dehumanize us by perpetuating stereotypes, misinformation and lies about us for political and financial gain, all the while stirring up bigotry and hatred. One of their propaganda messages is that homosexuals are hijacking the civil rights movement. Such propaganda is designed for no other reason than to divide other minorities that have suffered similar injustices from identifying with the current struggles of LGBT people. This is the Rovian paradigm of divide and conquer in which the means justifies the end and where lies become truth no matter who gets hurt. It is undeniable that there are striking similarities in our fight for civil rights equality with our African American brethren, most notably the issue of interracial marriage. Interracial marriage was still illegal in some states until 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the Loving v. Virginia case that banning interracial marriage was a violation of the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment of the Constitution. In the Loving case, Richard Loving, a white man and Mildred Jeter, a part African American and Native American woman were legally married in Washington DC in 1958. Upon their return to their home state of Virginia where interracial marriage was illegal, they were met in the privacy of their own bedroom one night by three police officers shining flashlights in their faces. Police demanded to know why Mr. Loving was in bed with “this lady.”? When a valid marriage license was presented, police told Mr. Loving “That’s no good here.”? The couple was arrested and convicted of a white person marrying a colored person but also for evading the state’s prohibition of the law on interracial marriage. LGBT relationships endured the same threat of police intrusion into our private bedrooms, just as the Lovings experienced, as late as 2003 for violating state sodomy laws. It was illegal for two consenting adults of the same sex to have private sexual relations in their own homes. Those who were caught were charged and often jailed for “deviant sexual behavior”? and forced to endure many indignities such as having to register as sex offenders. The anti-gay industry has re-packaged many of the long abandoned and rejected arguments of the 1950′s and 60′s that were used to oppose interracial marriage and applied them to same-sex marriage, and homosexuality in general. They contend that homosexuality is not natural, it will harm children, that the Bible says it is an abomination against God and same-sex marriage will destroy “traditional”? marriage. This brand of hatred and cruelty is based on nothing but fear, ignorance and the desire for power and control over others who they do not want, or care, to understand. To allow marriage, or other civil rights, would be to admit we are human beings just like everyone else. Our very equality threatens their power structure and revenue stream. The judge that convicted the Lovings in 1958 said, “Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents and but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows he did not intend for the races to mix.”? During that time others had said that it violated natural law and would lead to unhealthy children perhaps making them retarded or would create a mongrel breed. These outdated opinions, based on prejudicial religious beliefs, have been long discounted and rejected when it comes to race yet they are still allowed to be injected into law to discriminate against LGBT American citizens. Americans United for the Separation of Church and State says, “First Amendment protects religious freedom and the right of religious groups not to marry same-sex couples. State constitutional and US Constitutional amendments against same-sex marriage reflects a fundamental disregard for individual civil rights of one class of people and ignores the first amendment rights of religious tradition or freedom from religious beliefs of a particularly theology whether that be a belief system of the majority or not. It is therefore government’s responsibility to dedicate itself to protecting the rights of all citizens, which includes gay and lesbian people.”? In 1967 the United Supreme Court struck down bans on interracial marriage on the grounds that it violated the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the fourteenth amendment of the United States Constitution which reads: “All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” In his deciding opinion Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren said, “While the state court is no doubt correct in asserting that marriage is a social relation subject to the State’s police power, the State does not contend in its argument before this Court that its powers to regulate marriage are unlimited notwithstanding the commands of the Fourteenth Amendment.” Warren went on to say that, “The freedom to marry has long been recognized as one of the vital personal right essential to the orderly pursuit of happiness by free men.” Forty years later, Warren’s statements were echoed in the California Supreme Court decision just last May, where it was ruled that, “people have a fundamental ‘right to marry’ the person of their choice and that gender restrictions violate the state Constitution’s equal protection guarantee.”? After the Loving v. Virginia was decided, the couple was interviewed by Ebony magazine where Richard Loving said, “For the first time, I could put my arm around her publically and call her my wife.” Mildred said, “I feel free now.” Tell me how this is not the same struggle Today it is unthinkable to keep two people from marrying one another because they are of a different ethnicity. What if some religious group tried to get an anti-interracial marriage measure on the ballot in just one state? It would never be allowed to happen. Yet, it just happened to us!
Keith Olbermann’s Special Comment: CA Prop. 8 & same-sex marriage