Listen, better angel

6 days[This post is one among scores hundreds of entries in Write to Marry Day, a blog carnival to support same-sex marriage and rally opposition to Prop 8, organized by Mike Rogers of PageOneQ and Dana Rudolph of Mombian.]

With the dutiful, if futile, determination of Sisyphus, I keep trying to find some words – the words — that will make a difference in the battle against California’s Proposition 8. The same series of thoughts have dogged me for weeks: if only I could string together the right reasoning, the sparkling jewels of argument, the compelling details of personal narrative. Real imagery of real people, good people, kind people, who deserve the preservation of this right. Lofty, heart-swelling reminders of what a Constitution is for, and a Supreme Court, and a Bill of Rights. The protection of individual and minority rights. The sanctity of church/state separation, for the love of both.  The stuff democracies are made of.  

If only I could convey these, I think, in the right tone.  If only they could somehow be put in front of the right people.  Enough of them.  Hell, even a handful.  Since all along we’ve known this will be won or lost by something like a handful of votes.

Compelling arguments for the retention of same-sex marriage abound, of course. Any whistle-stop tour of these should begin with the very finding of the California Supreme Court  that Proposition 8 seeks to override:

[T]he differential treatment at issue impinges upon a same-sex couple’s fundamental interest in having their family relationship accorded the same respect and dignity enjoyed by an opposite-sex couple.

[T]he exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage clearly is not necessary in order to afford full protection to all of the rights and benefits that currently are enjoyed by married opposite-sex couples.

“[T]he right to marry is not properly viewed simply as a benefit or privilege that a government may establish or abolish as it sees fit, but rather that the right constitutes a basic civil or human right of all people.”

Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center Director and Attorney Lorri Jean, in yesterday’s L.A. Times, put the core issue quite succinctly:

One group of people is not supposed to be able to vote to take away the fundamental rights of a smaller group of people. To do so is not only wrong, it’s un-American.

This is the A-number one slippery slope argument, the one underlying all others, at least in my view.  We are not asking that a majority of Californians be comfortable with the thought of us marrying.  But access to that civil right can’t be dispensed or revoked based on the comfort level of a majority with the minority.  If gay people, now, then who else, under what pretext, loses what next?

Hundreds upon hundreds of deeply felt, politically insightful blog posts and op-ed pieces have been written over the past several months, building in intensity and scope over the past several weeks. Now, less than a week to the election, this chorus is reaching a crescendo.  A collective shout to the better angels of our nature.  Whether enough are listening will remain to be seen in another six or seven days.

For my part, I am becoming hoarse, but not mute (though I reserve the right to “prefer not to” do much of anything, and for an indeterminate period of time, a la Bartelby the Scrivener, should we fail to defeat 8 by the end of the night next Tuesday).  From time to time, I do lose my breath.  Sometimes it’s knocked out of me by something — an experience, reading more news — other times I’ve just used it up. Over the course of this battle, I have felt that I’ve lost my ability to write with authority or even a useful, overarching analysis.  Instead, when I bring myself to write, it feels more and more like I’m only able to send dispatches from my part of the front.  Heavy on the pathos, light on the logos.  I’m less hopeful now to sway a swing voter, more wanting simply to reach out a hand to the many, many others who are battle-weary, like me.

My front is not, I hasten to note, the street corners littered with hate, where some of the ugliest, most elemental faces of the Yes on 8 homophobia can be found. I spend most of my hours as primary caregiver for our kids, for one, and they’re too young to stand so close to traffic without my undivided attention.  And I’m glad.  Because even if I could tolerate the thought of that venom burning itself into their psyches, I probably wouldn’t last a day under those circumstances.  On those street corners, just like on the national stage, we’re watching what happens when vitriol and xenophobia are sown among the ignorant.  The hate is now not just percolating at the surface, but sputtering and erupting above it, in plain view in the lines at McCain/Palin rallies and among the people assembling at intersections up and down California, and probably Arizona and Florida, too.   This is exactly what happens: the logical consequence of carving out an “us” and a “them,” with “them” being — you pick it — foreign, Muslim, terrorist-y, mysterious, prone to telling your kids that it’s okay to love whom they wish.  

My front has been a quieter one.   With the exception of a fundraising house party, a few hours doing street corner “visibility” work in less vitriolic locales, and election day in the service of No on 8, I’ve done most of my “work” thusfar sitting inside my house. I type away at the computer while, at the periphery of my vision, my one-and-a-half-year-old son speed-rummages this tabletop or that bookshelf with the wreckless determination of a drug-addled house burgler.  At the end of the day, the place looks like it’s been plundered by a rabid herd of pygmy goats.  I look around wistfully and think, “After November 5th, order will return.”  Meanwhile, when my daughter isn’t drawing, or traipsing around the house in another elaborate will o’ the wisp narrative, she’s watching — yet again — another movie.  Something that was previously anathema to me.  But it feels as if I have no other choice.

I will be glad when all this is over.  

I am bone-tired of feeling grateful to ordinary strangers — the fishmonger! a schoolteacher! — for news that they won’t be voting to remove a right from me that my state supreme court, after lengthy deliberation, concluded had been sitting there in the constitution, waiting for me, all along.  Not that I’m not grateful: I’d be ready to drop to my knees, if necessary, if that’s all it took for one more vote.  And yet it’s a paradox.  This shouldn’t be in their hands in the first place. 

I long for the days when I’ll be back to occasionally wondering what people think about me, and knowing that it doesn’t much matter one way or the other.

 

fight [next in this marraige equality series: Weekend bonus sh- aw who am I kidding, it’s another No on 8 update]

5 Responses to Listen, better angel

  1. Vikki October 29, 2008 at #

    Last night, Luisa called California voters all the way from the frosty north! We’re donating…I’m writing and talking to everyone I know. Let’s hope for the best.

  2. LookyDaddy October 29, 2008 at #

    The exhaustion comes through in your writing, LD. In a I-wish-I-were-there-to-prop-you-up-and-lend-a-hand way.

  3. Lesbian Dad October 29, 2008 at #

    Thank you, friends both. And you’re right, L,D!. ¡Ya basta!, sez me.

    It’s an old portrait of me, by the lil’ monkey (dates back to January at least). But it’s pretty accurate.

  4. LookyDaddy October 29, 2008 at #

    You always were a leggy one.

  5. writelikeagirl October 30, 2008 at #

    I just wanted to say thank you so much for all the work that you have done for the good of us all. I for one am really, truly grateful.

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