Time Out for Earnestness

Posted by Maximum Fun on 22nd October 2008

I actively avoid politics in public. I am a deeply politically engaged person, but I think The Sound of Young America and Jordan, Jesse Go! aren’t the venue for my opinions. I occasionally hear from someone who thinks Jordan and I don’t care about political or social issues, because we don’t engage them on the show, or that I don’t care because I rarely book explicitly political artists on The Sound. That’s not the case, but I think there are others who cover that territory better than I, and I would rather offer a big tent than alienate folks who may not share my political values.

So, fair warning: I am about to be personal, political and earnest. You are welcome to ignore me if you so choose, and please understand that these views don’t have to do with the editorial perspective of this blog, or my shows. Just me, personally. I also understand that reasonable people can disagree.

That said…

This is a presidential election year, and there has rightly been a lot of focus on presidential politics. Here in California, however, there is an issue which for me, personally, supersedes the presidential election: Proposition 8.

California Proposition 8 would amend the state’s constitution to eliminate same-sex couples’ recently affirmed constitutional right to marry.

One of the most important roles of our state and federal constitutions is to protect the rights of minorities. In a democracy, the majority rules, but on rare occasion, that majority can trample the rights and freedoms of a group which is smaller in number. One of the few things that can stand in the way of the trampling are the rights guaranteed to all in the central documents that guide our civil society. Maybe the majority didn’t care for Brown v. Board of Education in the mid 1950s, but the constitution of our country guaranteed certain inalienable rights, and they didn’t just guarantee them if the majority happened to agree.

When the state supreme court of California decided earlier this year that same sex couples had the same right to marriage as any other couple, it was a watershed decision that illustrated why we grant certain rights to all people, not just majorities. It was a decision that said, “these people, whether they are a majority or not, deserve equality.” Proposition 8 takes the remarkable step of re-writing our state constitution to explicitly eliminate the rights of a minority. From my perspective, this is unconscionable.

This isn’t just an abstract issue. Two of the couples who’ve been closest to me, family-wise, in my life, are same-sex. My aunt Gail and her partner Deb have been together for more than 20 years. They share an really amazing, vibrant love, and I’m so proud to have Deb as an Aunt. My own parents were married only briefly, and I’ve always seen Gail and Deb as a model of long-term romantic love. They respect and honor each other, love each other deeply, and are deeply committed to each other.

My mother’s best friend, Eric, has been with his partner, Steve for twenty years. In fact, about two months ago, they got married on their 20th anniversary, with my mother serving as a maid of honor. Like my aunts, Eric and Steve are as committed as a couple could be. Steve’s health has been poor for many years, and Eric has stood by him steadfastly. They appreciate each others greatest qualities and accept each others greatest failings. Their bond is as strong as any, and again, it is a model to me of how love can really work.

I got married recently, and I almost cried a few times thinking of my family members who could now share this right with me, because the supreme court of my state had affirmed it. Now, though, I’m terrified that it will be taken away.

If your church does not perform or honor same-sex marriages, I disagree, but I also respect its right to make that choice. I can understand that some people are members of faiths which considered homosexuality a sin. I disagree, but I believe it is their right to make that choice. The religious component of a marriage, whatever it may be for a given couple, should not be determined or proscribed by the state.

But let’s be clear: we’re not talking about what goes on in churches. We’re talking about the law. Same sex couples deserve the same rights under the law as you or I. The right to marry in their own church, or in a courthouse or by some other non-religious officiant. The right to live, legally, as a married couple, with all the benefits and responsibilities that go with that.

All same-sex couples in are asking for is equality. They don’t want to make anyone else gay. They don’t want to do anything to my straight marriage. They just want to live as equals under the law.

When two of my wife’s closest friends, Anna and Abby, were married a year ago in Massachusetts, one of the maids of honor made a toast to all the same-sex couples who couldn’t share in the right Anna and Abby were enjoying by virtue of geography. I was thinking of my own state then, and that toast was the first thing I thought of when the court asserted that same-sex marriage was legal in my state. I was so happy for my family and friends who could marry, and I was so excited about the future. Now, all of that is gravely threatened.

If you agree, and live in California, I urge you to vote. Vote now, if you can, vote on election day, just vote. Your vote matters, and the race is very close.

Whether or not you live in California, you can help. Take action with No on 8, or with the Human Rights Campaign. Give, even a little bit, to help spread the word about what this measure is really about: using our state constitution, for the first time, to enshrine a denial of human rights.

Okay, I hope you’ll forgive this digression into painful earnestness. It’s my last word on the election. More comedy videos and stuff soon, I promise.