Saturday, November 15, 2008

Prop 8 Debate

I know this is a very difficult topic for many, especially in the African American community. People have religious convictions and that is difficult to debate. I have had a number of conversations with my classes about this, and it comes as no surprise that my classes in the (predominantly) Black community tend to be more passionately against same sex marriage. Most point to religion, but some also are offended by the "civil rights" argument and that some have tried to equate this to the struggle of African Americans. On both points, I can understand their feelings, but I've tried to offer the serious constitutional, moral, and civil liberties implications of such a discriminatory proposition.

As I've told my classes, while I can question people's moral and religious beliefs about homosexuality, the more important question is constitutional. What they supposedly like about the U.S. are the freedoms that come with the Bill of Rights. Do we want to be a democracy or theocracy?

While it may not be right to completely scapegoat the Black community for the passing of Prop 8 (given that we are a small percentage of the California electorate), it still needs to be acknowledged that there is a problem in the Black community and if we do not have honest and open dialogue about it, it will be to our detriment . The truth is AIDS is killing the Black community, and homophobia is the root. Our silence is the true disease.

As I've told my classes, if this was just a religious thing, our vote would have mirrored the Latino community, more evenly split. But that the black vote went 70-30 in favor of the ban on same sex marriage speaks to deeper issues that go beyond religious teachings (that I can and do vigorously dispute as a Christian myself). As one student asked when the debate got heated: "are we talking about only gay men?" VERY TELLING. Our community has issues re: masculinity, stemming from slavery that must be dealt with honestly and thoroughly or we will continue to undermine the future of our community.

Here are articles from Davey D's hip hop blog debating the issue from different perspectives.

No-on-8's white bias

Black Voters, White Bias & Cali’s Gay Marriage Proposition
The right to marry does nothing to address the problems faced by both black gays and black straights.

By Jasmyne A.

November 8, 2008

http://www. latimes. com/news/opinion/la-oe-cannick8-2008nov08,0,3295255. story

My 2 Cents on the Gay Marriage proposition

by Davey D

Grab the Raid! Another Homophobic Cockroach!: Trick Trick.

by Khalil Amani of Hoodgrownonline. com

Real Time With Bill Maher Nov 14 2008


pundit said...

Thank you for posting all of those articles related to Prop. 8. I have a very hard time with this one because I think reasonable and intelligent minds can differ on this topic, which pits for many, equality versus religious freedom. First, our state, absent a moral mandate, really can't and has no reason to discriminate between people who want to marry. If it does, the state acknowledges that it does not exist in a vacuum of logic, and that it is inextricably grounded in one type of philosophy or another (historically Judeo-Christian). On the other hand, should it permit gay marriage, then there is a reverse problem of potential and impermissible interference in matters religious, I found an article discussing this here:

I am not at all liking the tone of some demonstrations which target religious groups, particularly Mormons, for the free exercise of their faith as well as their right to fund campaigns supporting those beliefs, and of course their right to vote. The reported mounting anger and hostility toward such groups flies in the face of the purported tolerance and equal rights theme of the No On 8 campaign.

I am also not feeling the blame supposedly being assigned to the black community, which again, I see as an unreasonable surprise as members of this predominately Christian/religious community did not leave their biblical instruction at home when they went to vote. And even if each and every black person in California voted on the 4th, we are only 6.7% of the state's population. We know we didn't all vote, we aren't all staunch hetero, we aren't all the same religion, so this number is has got to be considerably smaller than that. (

Grown adults may do as the please as far as I'm concerned, but the free will of humans cannot expect to trump deeply held religious beliefs. I hate to even use that word ("religious") because that is where people stop listening sometimes. I guess what I really mean is that regarding those who adhere to the word of God through any number of religious vehicles and/or text, you will never win an argument against individual loyalty to said "God". Many are prepared for and expect a fight for those beliefs, up to and including the ultimate sacrifice.

Instead of fighting with religious folk that are unlikely to be swayed, No On 8 is better advised to redirect efforts through the legal system, through voter initiative, or expend efforts convincing those capable of being convinced. If nothing else, from a public relations perspective, No On 8 loses sympathizers by generating an image of religious intolerance and frankly, ignorance of their opponents’ philosophies.

Anonymous said...

Marriage, as most people think of it, has more to do with that mysterious and personal/social thing we refer to as 'religion', than it has to do with civil liberties. When we view civil liberties in it's place in the history of mankind, it is a relatively new development and something that is clearly not yet well defined or excepted in a universal sense.
The institution of 'marriage' goes back before recorded history, if you are not using the Bible as a definer of history, or, to the time of Genesis, if you are using the Bible. The defense of marriage can be intellectual or legal, but in reality the defense of marraige as we know it now, is a much more primal defense. It has more to do with survival than anything else. It has more to do with instinctive behaviors within humans to protect and care for their children. It has more to do with protecting the human race and procreation and much, much less to do with personal choice and pleasure. There are somethings about human nature that are that way for self preservation. Now, one can argue that there are those who do not care for their families and who actually harm their own children. But what do we call that? We call thoe people dysfunctional or criminal or psychotic, depeanding on the extreme to which they express what we call deviant behavior. Deviant behavior does exist, and to be fearful of expressing that fact is disasterous. It truly takes an innocent person to proclaim to the village that the emporer is not wearing clothing, (for those who know the story). Those who have an investment in the emporer or who fear him will either keep quiet about the absurdity or convince themselve that what is not true is infact true. In thus, the entire community lives a life of deception.

The civil liberties that are being discussed are easily optained by writing a good will. This move has more to do with a status change. A desire to have something that is a deviant behavior be elevated to the status of a 'normal', i.e. good and healthy for society, behavior. Those who really think about this look down the road and see what can come next, because all this is about is changing 'societal laws'. So the next argument could be, I want to marry my son, or, I want to marry my brother, or, I want to marry my pet. And there are people who right now are living those lives in secret, in fear of being discovered, but who will be enboldened as they see other deviant behaviors being accepted and embraced.

Some will argue that the numbers are so great now that we have to change our understanding that this is not a normal, healthy behavior. But we must understand that a cancer, which is one of the most feared and deadly situations we as humans may face, a cancer typically starts as one or two abnormal cells living among trillions of normal cell. And slowly this cancer grows and grows until it can be detected for what it is. And when we detect the cancer, we do not say, "it is so large now, it has spread to so many parts of the body now, we therefore must now say it is 'a normal part of the body'. We still recognize that it is deadly to the body and seeks only to grow larger and spread further without serving any good use for the body. In the end, the healthy body dies and the cancer with it.

Don't be afraid to say something is wrong, if it is wrong. Have a little Faith.