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Free at Last! At least for the majority

Full Speed to Port!

Posted: November 11, 2008 8:06 p.m.
Updated: November 12, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Free at last! Free at last! Thank God, we're free at last!

Well, for most of us, anyway.

Last Tuesday was a monumental moment for America. One of our greatest social injustices had, by way of collateral consequence, finally been put to rest.

By wide margin, America elected the most capable and promising candidate, assigning him the trust and formidable task of hauling us back from catastrophic chaos to an orderly, successful, capitalist democracy.

That capable man happened to be of color.

That a majority of voters saw his color of no consequence, or even more, saw no color at all, indicates that we've finally moved into a post-racial political environment in America.

Indeed, some say the Republicans' best hope for 2012 might be a governor of Indian decent. The race color barrier appears torn asunder from the top down and bottom up.

Good for America. It's about time. For those less white-skinned as the present American majority, the freedom to advance and succeed by merit is more closely perfected than ever.

America again lights the way for the world - at least in this regard.

So then it's quite ironic that on that very day when a substantial majority rejected racial bigotry, a similar majority accepted sexual bigotry.

Powered by big dollars from conservative churches, Proposition 8 passed, and with it passed away the rights of gays to marry in California.

State courts had already mandated these civil rights months ago. Thousands of gays had already married without as much as you or I even noticing.

Yet on Nov. 4, a majority repressed the minority, saying, "No You Can't."

Stripped of Proposition 8's family-values campaign imagery, what just transpired is that the sum total of civil rights has been reduced.
All of us have less freedom because some of us now have less. And all of us are at greater risk of compromised freedoms, as we've just seen first-hand how easily majorities may strip minorities of rights.

Who knows when you may fall victim to the next cash-rich ballot initiative gunning at your particular lifestyle and choices?

Ironic, in the Land of the Free, that we're so wanton to constrict the rights of those "not like us" - whatever "not like us" happens to mean at the present point in time.

Race, religion, sex, economic or social status - in betrayal of our enshrined ideals, we're always bearing down on one minority group or another.

More ironic still is that at the time our groundbreaking president was born, his parents' own marriage would have been illegal in many states.

Mixed-race marriage was perceived as threatening to American culture and civilization. Lucky for Obama then, and to our nation's benefit now, his black father and white mother sidestepped the anti-misogynation laws then just making their way into the rightful dustbin of history.

Yet decades later, we're still fighting marriage wars against minorities.

Gay marriage represents the latest milestone along our nation's arduous march toward equal rights for all. The continuum is clear. Since the original Bill of Rights, we've seen the abolition of slavery, the civil rights movement, free speech rights, women's reproductive rights, property rights - and now on deck, gay rights.

At each point in our Freedom March, we observe old, vested powers digging in against a repressed minority. Obama shrewdly observed, "Don't think for a minute that power concedes."

Power protects its own interests for its own purposes. For every right somewhere won, power and control elsewhere are lost.

Relative to Proposition 8, this is where conservative churches set the cross of liberty aflame.

Ironies continue in that the two churches with the most dubious sex and marriage heritages are those most strident in mandating sexual and marital norms on others today.

It took the threat of war, extermination and an occupying U.S. Army to force the Mormon Church to abandon its atypical marriage practice of polygamy.

The LDS church eventually relented after a prolonged struggle, and most Mormons have practiced monogamy ever since.

For their part, Catholics prohibit clergy and nuns from marriage regardless of sexual preference, and, while this may seem odd enough to non-Catholics, this is also the organization with that persistent, pesky "priests and little boys" problem.

Scanning the sex and marriage standards continuum, one can't find two religious organizations less credentialed to dictate terms of "mainstream sex" or "mainstream marriage" to gays or anyone else.

But they, like other power groups, have adherents to unite, and they often do so with causes, crusades, and battles.

Regardless of the financial clout of current persecutors, the gay rights injustice, too, will be overcome.

As America matures and its demographics widen, power dilutes to the evolving masses. Younger people don't maintain the biases of the old; Obama's election is proof enough of that.

Gays, stranded outside the chapel for the moment, will eventually find marriage gold at the end of their rainbow.

America's civil liberties history is a long, arduous march toward freedom and justice for all. The gay-marriage-justice milestone will also be passed.

Still, it's a shame on today's majority that we've caused yet another minority to have to wait for tomorrow.

Gary Horton lives in Valencia. His column reflects his own views, not necessarily those of The Signal. "Full Speed to Port" appears Wednesdays in The Signal.


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