Take The Time To Get To Know These Couples

At this time, California is beginning the countdown toward the vote on Proposition 8, a ballot item that seeks to remove the already-existing state supreme court-granted right of gays and lesbians to marry by changing the state’s constitution. In the news and in the aggressive advertising campaigns fueled by out-of-state money (the Mormon Church has provided huge financial backing for the Yes On 8 campaign),  it seems that all of the opposition comes from organizations and individuals who are afraid that this right will somehow erode or diminish their own religious rights or the institution of marriage.

Not only is it a dangerous practice to allow voters and special-interest money to decide individual civil rights, but it’s got to be one of the biggest, most expensive, and most misanthropic campaigns ever conceived. Are there really that many people who believe that their God-given right to love and happiness is due to them at the expense of other people’s? Come on, folks, what kind of religion is that?

As painful as this campaign has been to lesbians and gays, I know I speak for a few  when I say we’re (unfortunately) not always surprised by opposition. What is sad is how much money is being spent on both sides of this campaign. If hatred and prejudice could have been set down to rest, this is huge amounts of money and energy that could have been spent feeding the hungry, educating children, housing and clothing people, and providing vital health services, among so many other things.

I stumbled across this website a couple of years ago, and it’s every bit as valid now as it was then. It features the documentary stories of 10 gay and lesbian couples — couples who live and love together in various parts of the U.S — couples who work, serve their country, raise kids, and hope to be married. Their stories are engaging and tender. Send the link on to someone who thinks they don’t really know any gay or lesbian couples. If they watch any one of these 10 small films, they’ll feel like they do.

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12 responses to “Take The Time To Get To Know These Couples

  1. These people are well aware that secularism and education are leading to the emancipation of thousands of Californians from the chains of ancient superstitions. They’re trying desperately to cling on to the right to discriminate against homosexuals.

    A religion that needs to be defended by these means is not worth having. And ironically, Proposition 8 will have no effect in stopping homosexual rights.

    This is the second wave of great civil rights battles in the USA.

  2. I have spent my morning watching all ten of these videos.

    It’s an interesting stereotype opponents have of supporters of prop 8. During my conversations these last couple of weeks, it seems like you assume we are all haters — we are evil, mean-spirited homophobes who refuse to be friends with gays and just want to stop them from doing IT.

    Most of us do have friends and neighbors who are gay. Our children go to school with and have friends who are gay. We would never do anything in the world to hurt them. We have carefully considered prop 8 and its consequences — to the gay community, to the family, to the religious community, to civil rights, to education, to society. My supporting prop 8 is not a personal indictment of you, the couples in the videos, my own friends and neighbors, or anyone else in the gay community.

    Tony is right. Prop 8 is not going to stop homosexual rights. I’ve lived in California all my life. Have you noticed that the Mormon church has never before taken a political stance on gay rights? That they’ve never asked their members to campaign against domestic partnerships? They’ve taken a moral stance on homosexual behavior, yes, but not a political stance on gay rights.

    So what is different this time? I believe that the leaders of the Mormon church are concerned about the effects legalizing gay marriage will have on the family. The Mormon church is well known — perhaps best known — for its advocacy and support for the family. You may not agree with their conclusions, but you cannot deny them their right to take a stand.

    I offer you the same challenge you ended with. Get to know real supporters of prop 8, not just the ones in the no on 8 ads. Some of them will fit your stereotype — just like some gays fit the MTV stereotype we see all the time. But, maybe you’ll find people who are compassionate but have very real concerns.

  3. On the other hand, Proposition 8 will obviously not save the family. The family is in no danger from same-sex marriage.

    The only thing it will do is make an impotent protest vote against the emancipation of homosexuals.

  4. Chouchou,

    I have to say the tone of your reply sounds apologetic. If you have friends and neighbors who are gay, If your children have friends who are gay, why would you participate in an assault on the existing right to same-sex marriage when this action clearly sends the message that you think the people you purportedly care about are not equal to you?

  5. Apologetic? Good grief, no. Simply weary from the hatred I encounter as I surf these blogs. I voice my opinion because I think this is an incredibly important issue. It saddens me how people twist words, obfuscate reason, and ignore even reasonable arguments from people who disagree with them. I’m finding that taking it personally is just another tool to emotionalize an issue that can’t stand based on facts alone.

  6. Okay, but why on earth would you want to stop people of the same sex getting married? It does seem rather vindictive and spiteful to me. I mean, what harm does it do?

  7. OK, I’m going to take your question at face value.

    Here is what I believe.

    A marriage is not simply a marriage. It is the creation of a family. A married couple can (and often does) choose to bring children into their family. The family is the basic unit of society. Healthy families mean a healthy society.

    I believe that a heterosexual marriage is the ideal foundation for a family, especially as it relates to children. Gender identity and sexual identity are important aspects of development. The concepts of gender and sexual identities are reinforced through the teaching example of a child’s parents. Children learn what it means to be a man or a woman by watching their parents interact intimately day by day through mundane yet important interactions.

    Studies have shown how important it is for children to have both a mom and a dad in their lives. Statistics are clear — children with both are less likely to engage in destructive behavior such as sexual promiscuity and drug usage. They get better grades and are academically more successful. They are more likely to go to college, and they are more likely to be “producers” in society, not “consumers” — adding to the tax rolls and the good of society, not taking from it.

    I fully recognize that not all families meet that ideal. In addition to gay couples, we also have divorced and single parents. All families deserve help and support as they do their best to raise healthy children — after all, there’s a reason the statistics are not 100%. However, just because some families do not reach the ideal, we shouldn’t abandon it completely.

    I guess at the heart of it, I’m a child advocate. I applaud those couples, gay or otherwise, who adopt children lost in foster care who otherwise would never know a true family. I am not impressed by people who deliberately deprive children of their right to a mom and a dad — single women who adopt or are artificially inseminated because their biological clock is ticking, young girls who get pregnant and keep the baby instead of giving it up for adoption, and gay couples who are artificially inseminated or use a surrogate. It seems cruel and selfish to me.

    I agree that same-sex families should be represented in teaching at school. My kindergartners brought home a booklet about different families — kids that live with a traditional two parent family, kids living with one parent, kids living with their grandparents. I believe same-sex families should be represented, too, because I don’t think a child of those families should be singled out and made to feel weird.

    I am concerned that, without prop 8, teaching in schools will go far beyond this kind of diversity instruction. There is definitely an element in the gay rights community that pushes for experimentation and acceptance of homosexuality as a choice, not as something inborn. I am concerned about what that will do to some children as they are approaching puberty. Growing up and discovering your sexuality is such a mine field already. Why add more confusion to the mix?

    So, the short answer is — same-sex couples are losing no rights. Allowing the legalization of same-sex marriage gives the gay rights community a powerful weapon that I believe will ultimately hurt children. I am willing to “hurt someone’s feelings” to avoid that.

  8. How will Proposition 8 stop teachers saying that, not only are homosexuals entitled to form families, to adopt, etc (which is California law at present and of which you apparently approve) but that there are some people who believe that homosexuality is a choice? How is that “a powerful weapon” for gay rights campaigners?

    Sorry if I sound a bit confused. That’s because, after reading your last comment, I am.

  9. Tony, it’s interesting that you ignore everything I had to say in my comment about families and children’s rights and focus on teaching in the classroom, but I’m still happy to respond.

    Teaching diversity is way different than promoting the gay lifestyle. It is taught as a part of a social studies unit, not as a health unit. It focuses on the composition of families and communities. Sex should not even be raised as an issue when teaching diversity.

    If prop 8 doesn’t pass, then same-sex marriages will become not only legally equivalent (as domestic partnerships are now) to traditional marriages, but they will also be forcing their way into a social and moral equivalence as well. It kind of fits in with Gavin Newsome’s “whether you like it or not” comment.

    I think a better way to attain social equivalence is what we were experiencing before the California Supreme Court’s 4-3 decision — what this post was originally about: Same-sex families blending into the community, making friends, being good neighbors.

    Now there’s a division created that I think derails a lot of what has been achieved by these good people. Once again, you have an element of the gay rights community that is seen as predatory — promoting the gay lifestyle and threatening religious and parental rights. Of course, it’s a magnet for that homophobic portion of society that still exists (yes, I’m admitting it exists). In addition, based on actual legal cases, otherwise very tolerant people are concerned about their own eroding rights.

    If same-sex partnerships are allowed to be called marriage, then this element of the gay rights community will use it as a weapon in the courts to claim their civil rights are more important than and trump others’ parental and religious rights.

    It doesn’t matter which side you agree with. It will create more and more animosity between the sides. That acceptance the gay community claims they’re looking for? It seems like it will be pushed further and further away.

  10. If I appear to have ignored a lot of what you said, it’s because I find it difficult to relate it to the question of whether the state of California is to continue performing same-sex marriages. As I said, your argument is confusing to me (and, I suspect, to most people reading this discussion).

    You say that same-sex marriages will be forcing their way into a social and moral equivalence”.

    But they obviously already are. Nothing in Proposition 8 will stop Californian teachers teaching Californian children that some families have all-male and all-female heads, and that these are just as real and valid as families with a father and a mother.

    Gavin Newsom is right. This will happen, whether you like it or not. While I don’t understand why anybody would not like it, I am glad that those who don’t like it will not be able to stop it.

    What is this “predatory” section of the gay community you write about? What does it predate upon?

    You write: “If same-sex partnerships are allowed to be called marriage, then this element of the gay rights community will use it as a weapon in the courts to claim their civil rights are more important than and trump others’ parental and religious rights.”

    What would that actually mean, in real terms?

    I’m still very confused.

  11. I think the two of you are involved in a dialog that needs to happen, so I’ve been letting it go on. However, I need to let both of you know that this is MY blog, and not subject to First Amendment rights.

    I say this, chouchou, because you’re becoming dangerously close to offensive when you start using phrases like “predatory” and “gay lifestyle”.

    I think perhaps it’s time for you to get your own blog. It’s an easy and simple thing to do. You’ll find the directions at http://www.wordpress.com.

    (Or better yet, start gathering signatures for a state referendum that says gays and lesbians shouldn’t have blogs because innocent straight people might stumble across them and get pulled into the “gay lifestyle”.)

    I agree with Tony, and Gavin Newsom, that we’re here and gay marriage will happen in some form, regardless of any attempt to control it by fundamentalist voters and church financing.

    I’ve resisted the temptation to jump right down your very polite, well-written, misguidedly moralistic, and insistent throat.

    But let’s get a couple of things straight (if you’ll excuse me borrowing your favorite word for my own immoral uses):

    1. Intolerance and homophobia pose a greater threat to straight society than gay people ever will. Boy children who are called “fags” and beaten up for the way they look, dress, or the activities they love are suffering from discrimination whether they are gay or not.

    This societal homophobia is expressed every time a kid says “that’s so gay” when they mean something is bad or wrong.

    Anytime two same-sex straight people are afraid to touch in a meaningful way, it’s an expression of homophobia. A man who suffers a terrible loss and has a friend clap him on the shoulder rather than hold him and let him cry is the isolating result of two men suffering from internalized homophobia.

    I firmly believe that homophobia, perpetuated by fearful straight people is damaging to society as a whole.

    2. Gay people don’t make other people gay. Period.

    The vast majority of gay people aren’t fascinated with straight people, although it appears the vast majority of straight people are fascinated with gays. (I say this knowing that the largest television audiences for shows like Queer As Folk and The L Word are straight viewers.) Also, consider the comments I get on the blog and *don’t* post. This yesterday:

    “I think lesbians are immoral, but I really like to watch them.”

    Dude, really.

    The vast majority of gay parents will have straight children. Gay parenting won’t increase the number of gay people in the world, because parenting doesn’t make people gay.

    However, good parenting can make people tolerant and respectful.

    Exposure to the “gay lifestyle” doesn’t make people gay either. Admittedly, it might give some people who are gay and closeted the safe space to express themselves. But they were already going to do it at some point… maybe on the internet, or maybe in truck-stops… but it’s going to happen if that’s their basic attraction.

    As a population, we’re not predatory. We have no desire to turn straight people gay.

    Historically, it’s been shown that the vast majority of sexual predators are straight, white males, many married and with children.

    In a moment of self-disclosure I will say this:

    I am a parent. I have a child in middle school. I’m 90% certain my child is straight, despite the fact he’s had plenty of exposure to gay people through my social contacts and through my work with people with HIV/AIDS. I don’t have any feelings one way or another. In fact, statistically, I’d be surprised if he were gay.

    We go to straight weddings. We go to gay weddings. We have family that we love and we are loved in returned.

    There’s never been a question of who or what I *want* him to be, it’s a question of who he *is*.

    One of my greatest nightmares is that something will happen — he’ll fall in love with girl who will indoctrinate him in her church, for example — and my sweet, loving, tolerant child will put on the cloak of righteousness and bigotry.

    Because here’s the thing: It’s an easy cloak to wear.

    When people are threatened; when they are frightened; when they wonder where they fit in a changing world; when they question their choices; when they’re fearful their children might reject their values, or grow up to be different from themselves; when they’re threatened financially; when they question the validity of their marriages, and when they question the inner, private lives of their partners, this is when people throw on that cloak, and wear it the way some people carry weapons.

    So my job isn’t to protect him from the diversity of world. My job is to show it to him. To teach him tolerance, and to teach him fundamental kindness, and to teach him that people deserve respect and equality.

    And frankly, this is a far more challenging job that simply pulling him under the cloak and trying to hold the rest of the world at bay.

    But I’m betting that in this, I’ll also teach him the internal strength that will keep him from ever being tempted to try on that cloak himself, because at some point, someone is bound to hold it out to him.

  12. I appreciate you allowing me to give voice to my opinions. Thank you, and I honestly wish you the best.

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