Proposition 8, a ballot initiative in California, would make marriage an institution confined to one man and one woman (as opposed to what? many men and one woman or one man and many women? Someone should tell the Mormon Church, the chief bankrollers of this vile initiative, about that!). It is appropriately called Proposition Hate. Polling indicates it is very close in California and this legislative bigotry may well pass, which would be a terrible tragedy. But let’s face it. This war is over, even if some skirmishes are left to fight and we may lose some of them. The current younger generation just doesn’t get what this is about. Here’s an anecdote.
My son, who is an academic of some accomplishment, has a weakness. He loves to play football and in fact plays semi-pro ball. He’s not very big, about 220 pounds, but he’s all muscle and very strong and quick. His team are league champs this year. Semi-pro ball is played by men who are older and have day jobs (my son is an Assistant Professor with a PhD in mathematics, although most of his teammates have more usual jobs). These are big (he’s the only offensive lineman under 300 lbs) and they hit hard. Mrs. R.,naturally is thrilled. The only things worse for her than saying her son is a football player would be to say he is an international arms merchant of a tobacco lobbyist. For my part, I understand completely the pleasure in playing football, although as a father I worry about injury and wish he would quite.
The team is based in a very tough white working class neighborhood, although the team itself is integrated. They are a tough, no nonsense bunch of guys and they love to play football. They are also not the most socially enlightened group, and can be heard on occasion to utter an anti-gay slur with little second thought. But my son tells me they don’t get the anti-gay marriage stuff — at all. They aren’t in the least threatened or fearful of it and really don’t understand what the fuss is about. It’s not that they are liberal. It’s that they are under 40. My son and my daughter and her husband are the same way. It is a non issue with them. It isn’t on the radar screen and they are appalled by sentiments behind Prop 8 (none of us live in California but we know about it). Their generation will soon be the majority, and when that happens the anti gay marriage crap will be finally done with. I know that’s not great consolation to couples in California whose happiness and peace of mind are threatened by this odious referendum, but I feel utterly confident this part of the culture wars is essentially over.
A dramatic case in point is yesterday’s affecting press conference by Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders of San Diego. Sanders campaigned for office two years ago on a platform that opposed gay marriage, although he was in favor of civil unions as a legal guarantor of rights. But the San Diego City Council just passed a resolution instructing the city to join Los Angeles, Long Beach, San Jose and Santa Cruz in a legal fight to challenge a recent ban on same sex marriage now working its way to the California Supreme Court. Mayor Sanders had vowed, as recently as earlier this week, to keep his campaign pledge and veto the resolution. Today, in an emotional public statement, he explained why he changed his mind this weekend:
Good for him. If you live in California, Vote No on Proposition 8.
[Update: Thanks to two commenters, I must correct an error regarding when the Jerry Sanders press conference happened. This was from over a year ago (Sept. 2007) but has just made its way to the other coast via YouTube. Nothing in the post depends on it, but I regret implying (because I thought it true) this just happened.]