Saturday, May 2, 2009

"It is never too late to give up our prejudices." - Thoreau

LIZ SIDOTI | May 2, 2009 09:58 AM EST AP

WASHINGTON — Gay marriage legalization in several states and the public's growing acceptance of same-sex unions have Democrats sensing political opportunity and some Republicans re-evaluating their party's hard-line opposition to an issue that long has rallied its base.

Some prominent Republicans are backing away from cut-and-dried opposition, and some party operatives say it's only a matter of time before others follow suit because the country is changing.

Republican Gov. Jon Huntsman of Utah, a Mormon who is a potential presidential candidate, backed a 2004 constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman. But he says he favors civil unions and extending some legal rights to gay couples.

Last month, John McCain's chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt, told the Log Cabin [a group of LGBT] Republicans: "Even though a majority of Republicans remain opposed to it, we must respect dissent on the subject within the party and encourage debate over it, and should not reject out of hand and on specious grounds ... that the party might be in the wrong on the question."

The foregoing quote from an Associated Press article illustrates just how much progress we have made on marriage equality since the passage of Prop 8 in California. On November 4 2008, the “yes on Prop 8” side was exuberant as they congratulated themselves for stripping same gender couples of the right to civil marriage in California. They conducted a campaign based on deception that permitting same gender couples to retain their legal right to civil marriage would endanger the family, specifically children.

They lied to voters and misled them to fear that “somehow” the evil gays would “brainwash” their children through the Public School system. A claim that is totally without any basis in reality, as the California Superintendent of Schools pointed out during the campaign. The California Teachers Association also confirmed the State Superintendent’s denunciation of the misleading “yes on Prop 8” ads.

However, fear and ignorance won out on November 4 when a razor edge simple majority of California voters stripped a minority group of its legal right to civil marriage. This should cause grave pause to anyone who is Black, Latino, Asian, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or who belongs to ANY minority group. The specific “issue” aside the principle, which that ballot initiative established, is that any minority group can have its civil rights suspended by a simple majority of voters.

Ironically, the victory by the “yes on Prop 8” proponents was similar in effect to the victory of the Imperial Japanese Navy at Pearl Harbor. It was a stunning and seemingly devastating “win” but this proved to be a strategic blunder of the first magnitude in the long term. The stripping away of the legal right to civil marriage for same gender couples in California has both galvanized and energized the entire LGBT community and their families, friends and coworkers throughout the United States.

The California Conference of Catholic Bishops and the leadership of the LDS (Mormon Church) may well have learned the same lesson, which the Republican Party seems to be learning. It is time to smile sheepishly, pick up the step, stop insisting on gay bashing and move on to other “more important” issues.


SO Katie said...

Amen ... I hope they do move on to things like poverty. Good for you, and keep speaking out!

kitty said...

Thank you Father, for being the voice that the Catholic Church needs to overcome so many years of prejudice. You and Father Marty are inspirations to us all...

Grandmère Mimi said...

The tide has turned. It's no longer "if", but "when" for gay marriage.

Dr. Stephen said...


Dr. Stephen said...

Wow! The Japanese Imperial Navy at Pearl Harbor compared to Prop 8.

I can't believe that you verbalized so thoroughly my feelings and impressions since the passage of Prop. 8. My take, to elaborate upon yours, is this: an entire generation of young GLBT people has been nourished by a relative lack of direct prejudice from their friends, at school and in employment settings. I identify them as part of the "Will and Grace Generation." I have told younger people about my own experiences of nearly losing my teaching position due to the members from the church I was attending writing and calling my district. The kids just couldn't see it or believe it. Prop 8 was a politicizing event equivalent to the Japanese Imperial Navy victory at Pearl Harbor. Now those beautiful kids can see this and work for justice. Sometimes gifts come in strange packages. What was intended to be a closing door became a blessing. Personally, this whole issue has caused me to confront my own judgmental motions and resentments toward evangelicals. I'm finding freedom and love for those who were my targets. There is joy in that. Surprise!

Thanks, Father