By Amy V. Dewhurst
Venetians have had a long history of radical thinking, compassion and action.
On November 11th, that was no different, when dozens gathered in Windward Circle to march in opposition of the November 4th Proposition 8 vote. Prop 8 was an amendment initiative eliminating the constitutional right of same-sex couples to marry. This vote won by 52.1%. In the state of California that is 6,434,312 Yes-Votes. Odd, because we are a nation built on fearlessness and freedom. The Declaration of Independence clearly states all Americans are entitled to “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” so, what happened California?
As stated in the General Election Official Voter Information Guide prepared by Ron Prentice and Rosemarie Avila “Proposition 8 protects marriage as an essential institution of society. While death, divorce or other circumstances may prevent the ideal, the best situation for a child is to be raised by a mother and father”
I personally wasn’t aware that marriage immediately resulted in children. Nor was I aware that being raised by a mother-father team was decidedly the “best situation for a child”. I have known miserable heterosexual couples who have mentally, emotionally and physically scarred their children for life, as have I known wonderful young men and women reared solely by one hardworking parent (grandparent, aunt, uncle or family friend). This argument is but one of the stronger, in a barrage of weak and fear-ridden propaganda presented by the “Yes on 8” Campaign.
Adversely, “No on Prop 8” simply outlined the actual LEGAL differences between marriage and same sex partnerships. These truths are as follows; “Prop 8 takes away the rights of gay and lesbian couples and treats them differently under the law”. It’s that simple, but let’s review; “Prop 8 takes away the rights of gay and lesbian couples and treats them differently under the law”. This is in direct violation of the aforementioned “Pursuit of Happiness”. It limits the legal rights of two people who choose to be in a relationship. How, I ask, is this constitutional? By this ideal the state (or a group within the state) can choose any assembly of people to persecute and strip of their rights. Caucasians, African Americans, Hawaiians, Mexicans, even Bottle-Blondes, and then Los Angeles, where would we be?
Peter Wolf and Geoff Scowscroft, Los Angeles Chapter Leaders of “Marriage Equality USA” have been in a committed relationship for 13 years. Two weeks ago they were a married couple. Now, with the ‘Yes on 8’ decision their marital status is threatened. Though the prevailing legal opinion is that marriages enacted before the November 4th decision remain valid, it is an opinion. That’s not good enough for an emphatic Peter, who remarked, “Why should I have to validate my life with votes from people I don’t even know, deciding on my rights? This is my LIFE. Not a court decision”.
Though a semi-step towards tolerance, domestic partnership is NOT the same as marriage. Under this rule Peter and Geoff cannot share insurance. They are not able to file a joint tax return. If one of them is to get ill or injured outside of state lines, they have no spousal rights. Imagine you are traveling with your husband/wife. You are in an accident. You are both rushed to the emergency room. Your husband/wife is in critical condition and an immediate medical decision is required. You have no right to make that decision, though its outcome will affect your entire existence.
Regardless of religious, political or societal definitions of ‘traditional marriage,’ these are ethical questions that require an answer. We are a nation force-fed the promise of freedom, but where do these alleged freedoms begin and where do they end? It is up to “We the people” to define our cultural imperatives.
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said it best during his March on Washington, “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”. Do you know who organized that march? Bayard Rustin (Psst…he was gay!).
Marriage Equality USA will be hosting a multitude of local events educating, organizing, and continuing, “To fight this thing” –GS.
For more information on the internet: www.marriageequality.org. “Yes On 8.”