Prop 8 Decision Stirs National Outrage

27 05 2009

Prop 8 Protest 036

So here we are, half way through 2009. We have a newly elected president, a newly elected/reelected congress, and as we speak there is a new Supreme Court Judge frying under our collective political microscope. What’s that you say? What ever happened to that thing last year with gay marriage in California? First they could get married, then there was something during the election about rejecting marriage licenses of gay couples who already got married… what ever happened with that? 

Well, once upon a time there was a referendum. In order to qualify to get onto the ballot in the first place, Proposition 8 needed 694,354 valid petition signatures, equal to 8% of the total votes cast for governor in the November 2006 General Election. The initiative proponents submitted 1,120,801 signatures (160% of what was required). On June 2, 2008 the initiative qualified for the November 4, 2008 election ballot through the random sample signature check (’cause, you  know, nothing can go wrong there).

Please note that the initiative needed 8% of the number of people who voted in the most recent election for governor. So, for those of you in California who choose not to vote, if you had voted in the 2006 election for Governor then the authors of this initiative would have needed many more signatures. This is partially your fault – you’re making it easy for them.

Anyway,originally they called it the “California Marriage Protection Act”, but some opponents claimed that was a misleading title, so they settled on “Proposition 8”. So, with some paperwork and a $200 submission fee, the initiative was on its way.

Now it’s May 2009 – the election has come and gone, with Obama on top along with Prop 8. Opponents and supporters of Prop 8 have been playing tug of war with every legislative body they’ve been able to wrap their arms around. Lawsuits abound. What would be the fate of those 18,000 gay marriages that have taken place in California already? Finally May 26 rolls around, the day the California Supreme Court announces its ruling on whether or not Proposition 8 is valid. That morning the justices announce that Prop 8 is indeed valid as voted. 

In a written statement, Alan Van Capelle, the Pride Agenda’s executive director, said, “Today’s ruling from the California Supreme Court missed an opportunity to do what courts are supposed to do and that is to make sure that all people are treated equally under the law.” He noted, however, that dozens of New York gay and lesbian couples who traveled to California to marry last year will continue to have valid marriages that are recognized by New York State, as are all legal out-of-state marriages of same-sex couples.

Rallies and celebrations across the U.S. that were planned in anticipation of an overturning of Prop 8 instead turn into outraged protests. In San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle, New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Providence and other cities, thousands of gay marriage supporters poured onto the streets, homemade signs in hand.

Another protest organizer, Ashley Simmons, said, “We chose to have a nonviolent civil disobedience because civil rights struggles come from the bottom up.” Fowler added. “There is a place for legislative action, but it’s more than appropriate to use civil disobedience to stand up for our rights when the system fails us.”

Some gay marriage supporters look at this decision as a good thing, saying that gay marriage “will stand on sounder footing when it is popularly enacted rather than judicially imposed”. Perhaps. Thankfully the protests and anti-Prop 8 rallies yesterday were generally peaceful demonstrations. If gay marriage supporters get desperate enough, if the elected officials that they helped get into office turn a deaf ear to their plight, that may not always be the case. 





Buffy, Bella, or Britney

26 11 2008

In my world, you’re a Buffy, a Bella, or a Britney.

Last night I saw the movie Twilight at my local delapidated movie theater. Contrary to my expectations, it was entertaining and fun, aside from the series of inside jokes so often invoked in film adaptations. Was it a film adaptation of the Manifesta? No. But, it had important shades of grey.

BuffyWhat struck me was not how sexist or anti-feminist it was, but rather how decidedly middle of the road it was. Or, better put – its message was as confused as its target audience.

The tweens and teens I grew up with, in the ancient 90s, were mostly spoiled white children of richer-than-average-yuppie-corporate-moms and reformed-hippies-turned-homemakers. In the Buffyverse, they would be known as Cordelias. There was a smattering of Willows, but most non-Cordelias more closely resembled Faith. In many cases our moms were sort-of feminists, with a pragmatic twist. For others, well, the battle was a little more up-hill. What many of these young women had in common, however, was an ambivalence about the world and their role in it. Was it a struggle? Was it a playground? Was it a stage? Was it a series of problems waiting to be tackled? Was it a wasteland of people lining up to betray you? Was it waiting to be conquered, or to be overcome?

Britney

The questions a young woman asks herself around this age are near the beginning of a powerful journey into adult life and all that comes with it. For those of us raised in suburban, conservative, corporate households, with varying degrees of family dysfunctionality, the choice to even question the world around us can be perilous for our family harmony. It isn’t a step to be taken lightly, especially without supportive peers. Chances are, if you’re questioning the world in which you were raised, you’re also questioning the world that your friends enjoy – a delicate balancing act, to say the least.

Bella

The first steps of any jouney may appear indistinguishable from the first steps of another. What Twilight illustrates – without judgement – is the muddiness in which these first steps are made. Not every step will be a wise one and not every part of the journey will showcase your inner strength. Despite that, we drag ourselves out of bed, onto the bus, into each class, trying to find the next vine in the jungle.

Some of us gravitate toward Britney Spears, others cling to Buffy Summers, but almost all of us have had our Bella Swan moments. Twilight may not pick up where Buffy the Vampire Slayer left off, but it leaves open the opportunity to explore a world different from the one in which we were raised. For the children of conservative suburbia, even the smallest window can turn into a portal of salvation. Every step counts.

That being said, adult women who cross my path are basically in the Buffy, Bella, or Britney categories. At least the Bellas have a chance.

“Everything is life or death when you’re a sixteen year old girl.” – Joyce Summers