No Justice From Our Justices

Written by Jill Chapin. Posted in Culture, Opinion, Politics

Published on May 29, 2009 with 4 Comments

By Jill Chapin

May 29, 2009

Proposition 8 has been upheld in California to legally prevent two people in love from marrying each other, for the sole reason that they share the same genitalia. Don’t you find it peculiar that laws are in place to prevent some people from enjoying the full spectrum of – loving?

I can understand why we should be on guard from those who hate, because their hatred could morph into violence. But how on earth could a gay person’s love for another harm the rest of us? From what exactly are we being shielded? Could the mere existence of their marriage license suddenly cause heterosexuals to rethink their sexual orientation? Could they lure children into altering their heretofore natural and unalterable feelings of being turned on by the opposite sex?

To be candid, I myself used to feel that the very definition of marriage to be between a man and a woman precluded homosexuals from enjoying all that a marriage entails. I was all for civil unions, but being a wordsmith, I stubbornly refused to see my bias for what it was. It was separate but equal. It was two different drinking fountains, two different restrooms, two different places on a bus. It was the unpleasant reality that legalized prejudice was still thriving in America, and most shamefully, in myself as well.

Maybe it’s because I worked in a school, and I worried how children would react to same-sex marriage. What I was slow to appreciate is that children will react in whatever way their parents do. If mom and dad take the time to explain that, although most people want to marry one of the opposite sex, there are those who just aren’t made that way. It’s a “decision” that is actually out of their hands, because gay and lesbians almost always recall feeling different even as young children.

It is all but certain that those most opposed to same sex marriage do so because the very thought of their sexuality is abhorrent to them. Which is actually kind of funny if it weren’t so tragic. Apparently they have no problem with heterosexuals who engage in the very same acts, or of heterosexuals who may hang from the chandelier, or put on bizarre costumes. The fact is that one couple’s idea of normal sex is another couple’s idea of kinkiness. What we all need to do is to quietly back out of everyone’s bedroom and respectfully close the door to give everyone the privacy that we all deserve.

Another humorous aspect to those who fear that homosexual marriage will somehow destroy the traditional ones is that heterosexuals are quite capable of destroying their own marriages without any help. Inasmuch as the divorce rate for heterosexuals is obscenely high, a quiet, loving homosexual couple is a downright positive role model.

Personal prejudice is out there. What is so discouraging, however, is that judicial prejudice is too. It was once the law that a black person was considered to be only a percentage of a white person, and that women did not have the right to vote. To our credit, we emancipated blacks and enfranchised women. Now we need to get to work on allowing gay and lesbian men and women their right also to life, liberty and their own pursuit of happiness.

Laws are designed to protect the innocent from those who would do them harm. This one is a head-scratcher, because I simply do not see how and who one loves will in any way negatively alter the lives of others.

But our lives will continue to be diminished as long as prejudice is still constitutionally sanctioned.. It is time for us to let it go.

Jill Chapin

Jill Chapin has been a guest writer and columnist in several Los Angeles area papers for over fifteen years. She has written a bilingual parenting book titled, "If You Have Kids, Then Be a Parent!" and a children's book entitled, "My Magic Bubble."

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  1. Response to Jerry Schwartz:

    I was quite surprised by the comments you made above. I honestly have to wonder whether you expect any rational and informed person to take these comments seriously.

    For example, you criticize gay people for, in your words, “drawing a symmetry between the gay struggle and the African American struggle.”

    Both are struggles for equal justice under law. Also, prohibitions against same-sex marriage today are as irrational as the prohibitions of yore against inter-racial marriages.

    Again, you criticize gay people for “disregarding the views of Catholics and other conservative Christians.”

    Their views were not disregarded. To the contrary, they received much attention.

    In particular, the efforts by Catholic bishops and some Protestant ministers to finance the passage of Prop 8, which undermines civil rights, were a legitimate target of criticism.

    The issue here is the separation of church and state, which is part of this country’s constitutional tradition. Discussions of this issue were entirely in order.

    You say “the gay community, particularly in San Francisco, is not minority friendly.”

    This is a preposterous statement. Gay people are found in every minority and every ethnic group, and in proportion to the size of each group.

    Again you say “the gay community in San Francisco is also not friendly towards the poor.”

    Another preposterous statement. Gay people are found in every social and economic class. The larger the class, the larger the number of gay people.

    You say “the gay community also does not take part in other important movements.”

    This statement is beyond preposterous. Have you had your eyes closed during the past fifty years? Are you not aware of the many gay people who have supported every major push for human progress in this country?

    Finally, you say “Isn’t it time the gay community acknowledged its own problems and sought to remedy them, before pointing fingers at others.”

    Isn’t it time that you stopped demonizing gay people?

  2. The court decision is disappointing but not unexpected. Before we launch into another campaign perhaps we should reflect on reasons for failing in the prop 8 debate.

    1) drawing a symmetry between the gay struggle and the African American struggle.

    This was inaccurate and insulting to African Americans….they voted for prop 8.

    2) Disregarding the views of Catholics and other conservative christians.

    You can attract more bees with honey than vinegar. And the fact that we have not pointed the finger at them and made a number of accusations, will result in them again not supporting our cause. We should have opened our ears and closed our mouths and listened to the concerns. Then, and only then, we could have explained our reasoning and appealed to their better nature.

    The gay community, particularly in San Francisco, is not minority friendly. How many black men do you see walking on Castro Street?

    The gay community in San Francisco is also not friendly towards the poor. Sure, the gay community says all the right things, but does very little.

    The gay community also does not take part in other important movements, most notably the Anti War movement.

    Isn’t it time the gay community acknowledged its own problems and sought to remedy them, before pointing fingers at others.

  3. Although the decision by the CA Supremes is a setback, the gay liberation movement has made extraordinary strides since the Stonewall Riot of 40 years ago.

    I remember a time when we gay people were demonized by everyone. Those who called themselves “liberals” or “progressives” were among the worst offenders.

    In New York City, Carol Greitzer, the most liberal member of City Council, refused to accept or even touch a simple petition calling for civil rights for gay people.

    “The Village Voice,” one of the most liberal newspapers in the country, refused to carry any ads that were directed toward gay people.

    When Arthur Goldberg, former union leader and justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, ran for governor of New York, he refused to meet with gay activists, saying “I have more important things to talk about.”

    And, for course, the socialist government of Cuba was then rounding up known homosexuals and sending them to “re-education camps.”

    We have come as far as we have because we have fought back, intelligently and vigorously, against all the oppressors, on both the left and the right, and in both politics and religion.

    This same intelligence, good will, and energy will eventually prevail in the struggle for marriage equality.

  4. When I was teaching (don’t ask how long ago), the students were constantly asking me if I thought marijuana would ever become legal in the U.S. My stock response: Yes, when the younger generation replaces the older generation in positions of power where the real decisions affecting our lives are made. I often used the U.S. Supreme Court as an example of a powerful institution controlled by members of another era. If someone were to ask me today “Will same sex marriages ever become legal throughout the U.S.,” I’d make the same basic argument. Yes, when the remnants of centuries past no longer control political power in this country. That day will surely come, but in the meantime, the primary task at hand from my perspective should be a continuing public relations blitz to convince the American public that a denial of marriage rights is a denial of basic Constitutional rights.