Wednesday, November 12, 2008

On the Fight for Marriage Equality in California

I'm as upset about the outcome of Proposition 8 as anyone else is, but I don't think that it is the signature issue of our times.

The President-elect's plans for what to do with detainees, once he closes Guantanamo Bay, how to handle military tribunals, whether to incarcerate indefinitely without charges, should be of more concern, as well as ongoing infractions to the First and Fourth Amendments.

Forgive me if this seems cynical, but I've never been a big fan of marriage---gay or straight anyway, and I'd rather see people take to the streets of Beverly Hills, Long Beach, and San Francisco over waterboarding, warrantless electronic surveillance by the National Security Agency, or the fact that the federal reserve is refusing to make public the names of those who received close to $2 trillion of taxplayer money in what Bloomberg describes as "emergency loans."

I'd like to see people take to the streets about the abstinence-only requirement that has accompanied the granting of federal funds to state, and international, clinics that provide much-needed contraception, and HIV/AIDS research.

I'd also like to see people take to the streets about the implied selective survival policy initiated by the neo-conservative wing of the Republican party in making drugs needed to treat HIV/AIDS unaffordable to the vast majority of those who suffer from the disease worldwide.

It's good to see people doing their civic duty by exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of assembly, but there are many who would like to see other elements of the First Amendment protected by the elimination of so-called "public indecency" FCC fines.

Yes, everyone should have the right to marry, and to get divorced, regardless of sexual orientation, but this is a time when there ought to be more concern with who's getting sacked than who they're in the sack with.

But, renegers need not apply; once a right is granted to someone, it must never be rescinded. This goes for Roe v. Wade, too, of course.

Marriage has never been a one size fits all institution, nor should it be. And, judging by the current divorce rate, far be it for anyone in those glass houses to throw stones, or to claim the familial high road.

But, we need to get our priorities in order. Please, please, please let's get about the business of working to restore our tattered Constitution, to end mercenary, irrelevant wars, to challenge the designation of "unlawful enemy combatant" as pretext to defy habeas corpus, stop the insidious practice of extraordinary rendition, and frame the debate such that human rights are the issue, not the rights of one sex, or another, to tie the knot.