Friday, June 26, 2009

New Musings on Proposition 8

After a break from blogging, I’m back. I had concluded, that rather than constantly putting up posts that have no content, I’ll post when I have something to show or say.

The Issue of Gay Marriage

So the initial part of this post I wrote, back after the Prop 8 law was upheld in the 9th Circuit Court ruling. But rather than immediately post my initial thoughts, I held off and continued to thing about it. Consequently, I’ll post the original, while including my newer musings in a different font and color.

What is it about gay marriage that irks religious conservatives?

I remember once hearing a very eloquent response on a related topic that I think applies to this question. It broke down into essentially this: Our [religious conservatives] problem is that they [liberals] believe they know better than us how to raise our children and what kind of society is better to live in. If they were actually content to keep to themselves and leave us and our families alone, these things wouldn’t be an issue.

It is a subtle, but important statement, that I’ve heard the reverse come from gay and lesbian advocates. In those comments they query: How does my happiness/marriage affect your life? How does what I do in my house/bed affect your life? Unfortunately, the questions—by their very nature—are, on both sides, rigged. Upon review, I realize that my comment may seem arbitrary and harsh. Both sides may have genuine emotion and experience instilling their points-of-view that lead them to ask the questions The real contention is actually one of social acceptance: something that can never be legislatively enforced. In general, one segment of the population, likely less than 25%, is not socially accepted by some or all of the other 75%. Even if, and or when, the equal rights arguments get legally settled, that will not end the social acceptance issue. The emancipation of slaves did not end segregation. The civil rights movement did not end gender and race discrimination. The larger picture shows that for many individuals is different social/racial groups, they self-segregated. The reasons for this are mixed: ranging from pooling economic support, class prejudice, and generational momentum (i.e. staying in the same groups and cultures your parents and you grew up with).

Quite simply, I cannot force someone else to accept me: treat me in a civil manner, possibly, but accept me, no. Either that person does or does not accept me. Initiating educational courses on valuing diversity and tolerance as either an overt or covert attempt to convince an opposing party of their wrongness doesn’t work unless the potential student is young enough to be indoctrinated. What better changes hearts and minds, is experience, particularly unanticipated positive experiences.

What I have yet to hear any gay marriage advocate adequately explain is how much they would tolerate a social acceptance challenge for something that advocate does not agree/believe in. While that circumstance is at this point hypothetical, it is conceivable. It is illegal in many places to marry one’s own first cousin (i.e. the son or daughter of your uncle or aunt). If there was a push by a group of individuals for legalization of this, would the gay marriage advocates be so accommodating? The arguments against procreation fall by the wayside with the potential for adoption or third-party genetic donors; but the idea is still anathema to the majority of the American populace. And even if those same advocates conceded the legal challenge, would they advocate education and training on the social acceptance of such behavior? I don’t have the answer, but it seems likely not. I realize that I have neglected to mention the very real issue of feeling discriminated against and or the experience of being persecuted. After considering how I would feel if—all other personality and character traits been the same—I was gay, I realized that I would be extremely angry. What may appear as minor legalistic arguments to the general populace, could very well have personal and deep ramifications for me. So even while there may be legal arguments and rationales for the existing or new case laws regarding the prevention of gay marriage, that would not deter me from viewing this as a personal, social, and civil rights affront.

What I suspect is really driving this conflict—from the gay marriage advocacy side—is the very human trait of impatience. If the community truly believes it possesses the right and just cause, they should follow the similar path that has led to the observable progress in the gender and race discrimination/social acceptance problem. Get the government to neutralize itself on the issue by changing the law to only cover social contracts, not marriage (i.e. get the government out of the marriage business entirely). The reality is, that while this may make the currently legal discrimination of gay couple desiring marriage moot, the ‘solution’ would please and satisfy no one. After that successful campaign, then mount a social and religious drive inside each local community, not for acceptance of gayness but for the impoverished, downtrodden, and exploited members of that community (some if which, by simple statistics, will be gay). If I see a friend pour out his heart, strength, and time into helping other people, I am more likely to want to assist that friend and make his life easier any way I can. Even seemingly major differences in philosophy become less important than accomplishing the shared goal of improving the community. While true, it is also possible that a friendship would not be possible in the first place if one person believes the other is prejudiced against them. Without the ability to first set aside differences, a mutual goal cannot be accomplished.

The problem is that this model of social change takes time: generational lengths of time. It is not done by indoctrination, or enforced social sanction, but by person-to-person interaction. This is one of the reasons why religions have been so effective in attractive followers and eliciting social change over the course of history, and likely why they continue to persist despite what many call more rational and scientific views of humanity being developed.

I’ve recently picked up the CS4 version of Adobe, so now I can do a bit more with some of the photos I have that have been sitting on the digital shelf. Today’s images are some of the High Dynamic Range photographs I’ve experimented with. The first is from when I was in NYC; the latter was taken more recently in Berkeley, CA.

Forest Floor in Prospect Park, Brooklyn, NY.

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Fire Memorial Garden, Berkeley, CA

Hopefully, in a few days or so, I'll have some more images to upload.
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