11.11.2008

A VOTE AGAINST LOVE

Keith Olbermann was in rare form last night. He almost lost it a couple times during this Special Comment speaking out against those who defeated Prop. 8 in California. It's heartbreaking to watch, but all the more reason to never give up the fight. We're on the right side of history on this issue. Young people, future generations have no fear of homosexuality...and one day, we will outnumber those who do.



(full text below)

Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics.

This is about the... human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not... understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want -- a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them -- no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights -- even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage.

If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal... in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry...black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are... gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing -- centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children... All because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage. How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness -- this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness -- share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

---

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of...love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate. You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know...It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow **person...

Just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge.

"It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all:

"So I be written in the Book of Love;

"I do not care about that Book above.

"Erase my name, or write it as you will,

"So I be written in the Book of Love."

---

Good night, and good luck.

5 comments:

elBryan said...

It's unfortunate that couples had to have their marraiges anulled, but if they should be mad at anyone, it is the California courts for ruling gay marraige legal when it is so clearly a violation of the first amendment..

I know that statement must boil your blood, but can we seriously have a cool headed discussion here..? Maybe count to ten before you keep reading..

The government has a duty to give equal rights to same sex couples, and I understand that Civil Unions don't grant the same rights as marraige upon death, so that's where the problem lies.. Fix civil unions..

Radical homosexuals have already sued churches for "hate speech" because they preach against homosexuality.. If gay marraige is legal, the church could be sued for not marrying a gay couple.. They could lose tax exempt status and the priests and reverends could be jailed.. You're not for that either, are you..?

I *am* for gay "marraige", or at least something TOTALLY equal to it, but not at the expense of protecting the church.. It'll take some careful stategery, but gay couples will eventually get their equal rights all around this nation... and it will be a much more satisfying victory when Americans vote for it rather than to have a court force it upon a skeptical public..

Travis said...

Sorry, but you're absolutely, 100%, unbelievably wrong on this.

Gay Marriage is a violation of the First Amendment?!!???!!!!!

No wonder you defend Sarah Palin so much. You both seem to have fallen asleep during the same Civics class.

You realize that the Constitution GIVES us rights, instead of taking them away?! They're called the BILL OF RIGHTS, not the BILL OF DON'TS.

And the 14th Amendment clearly states:

"No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Notice they left the, "Except fags" part out.

Your strawman arguement is cute though. Gays secretly want Gay Marriage so they can sue churches, and NOT live together in harmony for the rest of their lives.

And here's another newsflash for you, the courts have consistantly ruled these types of things into law for decades. You know it took the Supreme Court in 1967 to FINALLY make interracial marriages legal? Did you want to just "wait around" for states to pass something like that? Let the "people" decide? Alabama and Mississippi would still be like that to this very day.

Gay marriage has nothing to do with religion, nothing to do with wanting to destroy the institution or marriage, nothing to do with anything but the fact that two people who love each other should be given the same rights as you and I.

It's. That. Simple.

Ryanetics said...

Oh Elbryan,

For the first few sentences I thought you were joking. Once I realized you weren't it reminded me how far we still have to go as a country.

Travis covered all of your points as well or better than I could so instead of rehashing I will address the one point he didn't get to...

Should churches lose their tax exempt status? A million times yes. If my fellow agnostic and atheist friends bought a building to hang out in on the weekends and push divisiveness and a radical political agenda would you give us tax exempt status?

I didn't think so.

Just being on the God team doesn't make you better than the rest of us - just like being gay doesn't grant anyone rights that non-gays don't enjoy. Equality is a pretty simple concept when you take the Jesus goggles off.

America is moving on from the divisiveness of our past - forward thinking people will no longer allow ourselves to be bullied into submission by generations of institutional bigotry.

elBryan said...

You can't solve the gay marraige problem by creating a religion problem.. If it is a problem in the founding document, then let's fix it.. Don't argue against the church..

The church has it's own interests, and it is entitled to that.. You guys might be right... but only on the internet.. Your ideas were tried in California, one of the most progressive states in the Union, and it lost.. Try typing it in all capital letters next time..

Again, I believe that denying homosexuals equal rights is discriminatory and we should be working toward finding a solution, but yelling at people for defending their church is not the answer..

Travis said...

Heh.

I'll admit I get carried away with the CAPITAL LETTERS and exclamation points!!! But I'm passionate about these things, and react when I read ridiculous things like, "Gay Marriage is against the First Amendment!"

But let me attempt to try a calmer, more reasoned approach. One that simply illustrates how lame your argument truly is.

Marriage is both a religious celebration and a civil union. The two aren't equal, don't need each other, and only one actually matters with regards to the law.

You could marry a goat in a church tomorrow, but until the state issues you a license, it doesn't mean a thing.

However, I could have married my wife at the courthouse, gotten my license and went along my merry lil' way, without ever stepping foot inside a church. And it'd be perfectly legal and recognized.

So, there doesn't need to be a religious part when it comes to marriage. It's simply the lights, frills, and glamor to make it seem like a "once-in-a-lifetime" event.

Also, this silly argument about "gays suing the church if they won't marry them" is completely wrong.

The Government can't tell churches who they must marry. It simply doesn't work that way. If it did, there'd be millions of lawsuits already on the books.

I'm not Catholic. You think I would be able to demand a Catholic church to marry me and my wife? If they refused, I'd be able to sue them?

We can't get pedophile priests arrested in this country, because the church is able to shift them around and in extreme cases, have them transferred to other countries. But suddenly we'd be busting down pews and making preachers do a "perp-walk" out to the squad car, if gays were allowed to be married?

It's a hollow argument meant to scare people. (which is a shocker coming from you.)

Look at Massachusetts. They've allowed same-sex marriage since 2004. How many documented cases of churches getting sued are you able to find? Cause I can't find a single one.

And finally, the only "problem" with the founding document, is that it states all "All men are created equal" and doesn't pick and choose who doesn't technically qualify depending on whom they sleep with.

It doesn't need to be fixed, just given to everyone. No exceptions.