Tag Archive for same-sex marriage

Contemplating otherness

After the excitement of election day, I spent most of the past week trying to figure out just what it all meant.

The election of the nation’s first African-American president, followed shortly thereafter by the heart-breaking results on Prop 8. And at the same time, the meaning of bikeism, after a stomach-wrenching report of a deliberate attack on a group of Aussie cyclists.

And contemplating the confluence of these seemingly unrelated events.

It took awhile to penetrate my sluggish grey matter, but it finally sank in that what these events all had in common was the concept of otherness — the objectification of people who are, somehow, found to be different from those judging them.

Just as the people in that car down under saw themselves as somehow different from, and therefore superior to, the “wankers” on their bikes, and so decided they were deserving of death.

Just as 52% of the voters in California saw themselves as somehow different from, and therefore superior to, a minority population, and so decided they were undeserving of equality under the law.

And just as a sizable minority of the population tried to convince Americans that Barrack Obama was a closeted Muslim, and someone who would betray the U.S. to its enemies, and therefore undeserving of being elected president. A canard impressive for its sheer audacity, since it was based on two simultaneous fallacies — first that Obama was/is a Muslim, and second, that there is something inherently wrong with the Islamic faith, rather than a relative handful who profess to follow it.

Fortunately, most Americans had the intelligence to see through the lies; to see the man, rather than the fraudulent image some had tried to create.

If only the voters in California had shown the same insight.

Over the past week, the news has been full of people who said they voted against same-sex marriage because they felt homosexuality — and therefore, gay marriage — was a moral failure, rather than a civil rights issue. Never mind that by voting yes on 8, they condemned gays to second-class status under the state constitution. And no one I know ever chose to be gay, any more than I chose to be white or my next door neighbor choose to be black.

On the other hand, bicycling is a choice, yet one that is protected under the law. And certainly not one which justifies the hatred and violent vigilantism demonstrated by the Australian attack, or by the good doctor’s Mandeville brake check.

What these all have in common is the objectification of another human being. Because it’s hard — if not impossible — to attack other people, physically or otherwise, if you see them as equals. As real human beings, with needs and desires, families and emotions.

But if you can classify them in some way as different from yourself — as an Islamic terroist, a faggot or an arrogant, obnoxious cyclist — you no longer have to show them the courtesy and respect that is the birthright of every human. And then it becomes easy to attack them physically, emotionally, or legally.

Something I’ll try to remember then next time some driver cuts me off or passes too close, and I’m tempted to curse all drivers — a category that includes virtually everyone I know.

Including myself.

 

Gary and Lauren write about some of the No on 8 protests; this one made it almost impossible for me to get home last week, and kept us awake as the helicopters and sirens continued well past midnight. But if that’s why you’re protesting, you can keep me up anytime. Alex writes about last weekend’s RoboRide, while Bike Snob describes his first SoCal Critical Mass — including an unfortunate Raccoon encounter. Around here, even the famous bike — and get hurt; actor James Cromwell was hospitalized over the weekend with a broken collarbone following a weekend bike accident. A Times writer got robbed by another cyclist while riding her bike. According to the LA Creek Freak, the city is finally going to get around to closing some of the gaps in the L.A. River bikeway. Finally, a happy Veteran’s Day to all those who’ve served their country; CNN reports on a Loma Linda vet who was held in a POW camp at Buchenwald.

Riding tandem

Ever since I started this blog, I’ve tried to keep a narrow focus. Like the name implies, I’ve written almost exclusively about bicycling — and primarily, about cycling in Los Angeles.

Today, though, I’d like to discuss another subject, just this once. So if you’re only interested in my thoughts on cycling — and thank you for that, by the way — check back in a day or two, and I promise to be back on subject.

And I promise to never, ever do it again. Until the next time, anyway.

But as you’re undoubtedly aware, there’s an election tomorrow. I mean, I certainly hope you know that by now. And I assume you’ve studied the candidates and the issues, and you don’t need me to tell you how to vote.

I trust you to do the right thing. Really, I do Whatever that may be.

But let’s talk, for just a minute, about California’s Proposition 8, the proposition that would amend the state constitution to ban gay marriage in this state.

People opposed to same-sex marriage have long argued that we have to defend the traditional definition of marriage; that allowing members of the same sex to get married would somehow weaken the institution or marriage. Some have even argued that thousands of married men and women would leave their spouses. once they were able to marry someone of the same sex.

So let me reassure you, from my own personal perspective.

In the five and a half months since gay marriage has been legal in this state, it has had no apparent effect on my marriage.

None.

My wife and I are just as married as we were in April of this year, or any of the previous 11 years since we tied the knot. And to the best of my knowledge, neither of us has felt the slightest desire to leave the other for any reason, let alone to marry someone else — of any sex.

Of course, maybe it takes a little longer than that. Like 6 months, or maybe a year.

But as far as I’m concerned, an inability to keep your zipper up in the presence of someone other than your spouse poses a far greater threat to marriage than allowing anyone to share the rites. As does an apparent willingness in this society to walk away from a marriage when things get hard, or someone gets bored.

And despite our close proximity to West Hollywood, I have never seen any sign of the infamous gay agenda that so many supporters of Prop 8 refer too, though I have seen a fey Filofax or two. Nor has anyone ever tried to recruit either of us to switch sides — although my wife is endlessly amused when someone turns around to check out my bike-firmed butt.

But let’s face it. Marriage isn’t always easy; but with the right person, it’s worth it.

And who am I to deny that to anyone?

My biggest problem with Prop 8, though, is that it takes away a right that people already have, and that thousands have already taken advantage of. It makes discrimination an official part of the state constitution — just like the Jim Crow laws of the deep south — and confers a separate but unequal status on a sizable minority group.

And that can never be right, no matter how you dress it up.

I trust you to make your own decisions, for your own reason. All I ask is that you vote. And that you do the right thing, whatever that means to you.

But as for me, I’m voting no on 8.

 

Gary encourages us to Bike the Vote — I couldn’t agree more — while LAist tells you what retailers are willing to break the law by rewarding you for voting. Here’s proof that a three-foot passing limit isn’t just a figment of our imagination. Bike Girl braves that which Angelenos fear most, and describes how others can survive the rain, as well. My friends at Altadena Blog announced the 2008 edition of the Tour de Altadena for all you San Gabriel Valley riders. And Bicycle Fixation gets it’s 15 minutes of fame in USA today.

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