With the overturning of California's Proposition 8, the U.S. enters a new era in basic civil rights. As delightful as it has been to see homophobes falling over themselves to find justifications for their political stance that might read as anything other than transparent bigotry, it is even more delightful to see them lose their argument in a court of law. I applaud the ruling as I applaud all individuals courageous enough to seek out love in a world of fear and commit to a lasting relationship in a world of temptation. I've been told I'm a hopeless romantic.
Naturally, the most steadfast of the opponents to same-sex marriage have accused the gay judge who ruled against Prop 8 of being biased. I suppose that is true, to some degree; after all, who is not slightly biased in favor of his own rights to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Still, the venom spouted toward this man is yet another indication of the level of bigotry at work in the struggle of the extreme right to keep homosexuality closeted, dismissed and subjugated beneath the heel of a heterocentric world view.
I think the recent history of homophobia bears a bit of review. Only in the past few years have arguments against gay marriage hinged on the idea that same-sex couples somehow damaged the sanctity of marriage. This was obviously a drummed up argument. Had the forces of conservatism really be interested in protecting marriage as an institution, surely they would have campaigned just as strongly to outlaw divorce. And unanticipated weight gain. Let us not forget that the same groups who now oppose gay marriage, not so long ago railed against homosexuals for their promiscuity. Let me put forth a simple theory: You can't please bigots.
If they will rail against promiscuity and will object to monogamy, one has to assume that it is not the nature of the relationships they object to, but rather the nature of the relations.
Now a blow has been struck against the Christian Right in its self-righteous battle against some people's monogamy, its legal struggle to institutionalize discrimination. Will it turn the other cheek? Probably not. I suspect that this small, vociferous minority will continue to rant, to rage, to carry hateful signs laden with offensive epithets. Meanwhile, happy couples, knowing that the legal system does not bow to the prejudice of the few, will take joyously to their marital beds and turn other cheeks of their own. Science tells us that sexual preference is less about choice than it is about chemistry, wiring and quite probably genetics. Spirituality tells us that decency and kindness are a lifestyle choice.
Because I firmly believe in a separation of church and state, I cannot in good conscience seek to have hatred and cruelty legally banned. I can only hope that those with whom I disagree can find enough love and support in their own lives to feel comfortable allowing others to live by their own choices. Perhaps in order to do that, all they need is permission to love whom they will, as they will.
I think I've been misdiagnosed. A romantic, yes. But most definitely hopeful.