Thursday, November 06, 2008

Talk Thursday: Second Class Citizen

I’ll begin with a warning/apology this topic could possibly make me rant, which you my dear friends will expect, but I might ramble a bit too.

Tuesday night was a momentous night, one of enlightenment, of progress, and maybe even a moment of healing and binding; a night centuries in the making. I had feared the worse, hoped for the best and was overwhelmed with the reality of Barack Obama being elected, overwhelmingly, president of the United States of America.

Growing up I was taught all Americans are equal. I believed this blindly, with all my heart, for all people. Slowly I saw the reality, yes in a perfect world all Americans are created equal, unless you were brown, black, poor, rich, smart, dumb, or any combination in between. As I learned in high school about the Indian Caste System the truth before my eyes saw showed that the American Caste System, was silently worse. We heard equality out of one side of the mouth, and bigotry out of the other.

Tuesday night, was another step in erasing part of those lines of distinction. Only to find another thrown up in the faces of those who believe and those who know the reality of being a second class citizen in an American class world. As we watched the hatred and fear of California’s measure eight pass, narrowly, but pass all the same I was chatting on the phone with my mother. I’ve always known she’s Republican, but I had always believed her to be a smart woman, a woman of her own mind. She taught me to believe in and practice fairness and equality. To believe that in a man’s world I was equal and could be what ever I wanted to be with hard work. The woman who taught me that I, and I alone, am responsible for my body, for the choices I make, and for the path that I choose to walk.

I believed her to be the wisest woman who walked through what life gave her with honor and wisdom. And then Tuesday night I couldn’t ignore the signs anymore. Don’t get me wrong, I adore my mom, she’s my friend, and damn if it wasn’t for all the things she instilled in me, well I’d be someone else and I tend to like the person I am. But in her seventh decade she is choosing to show and practice ignorance. She in spirit and belief backs the inequality and hatred of Measure eight. And worse she is backing it in ignorance.

Let me explain further. She believes a civil marriage is enough for two people who love each other… if they are of the same sex. Yes she knows being gay is biological, but a marriage should be between a man and a woman and the constitution should not be changed to allow a marriage between two people of the same sex. And worse she qualified her arguments against same sex marriage by arguing, if the constitution was changed to allow same sex marriage what Constitutional line would be crossed next? Polygamy?

Now I know people educated on any one of these arguments will see the multitude of flaws in my mom’s 1) arguments 2) knowledge 3) qualifications of her beliefs and arguments. But now I have a quandary do I explain to her that marriage is not a right granted or defined IN the Constitution? Do I explain to her again that it’s Biblical law (Leviticus 20:13 to be exact) as laid out to the rabbis that she is confusing with the American Constitution? Do I explain to her that it was she who taught me all men are equals…and that it says nothing about women – but she read between the lines to instill in me I am an equal.

I really shouldn’t be too surprised, at one time I had a LONG conversation with her about homosexuals. At the time she believed it was a choice, not a biological birthright. And maybe in hindsight that conversation helped her alter her beliefs. The basis of my argument, knowing my mother and the breathe of her love, was to ask her, “What? You could spend eighteen years pouring all your love, belief, and faith in to your child; dote and instill the best that you have to give of yourself, and then turn your back because they were born gay? Could you? Could you throw away the best eighteen years of your life because of a birthright?”

She couldn’t answer me and our conversations on the subject changed after that. Or I thought they had. Thomas Jefferson so eloquently said (232 years ago) that “All men are created equal” and yet 232 years later people are still fighting to enslave some people in a second class caste of difference.

Franklin Delano Roosevelt so wisely said (on a very different topic) “There is nothing to fear but fear itself” he was wrong, we should always fear hatred and chosen ignorance.



JulieAnn said...

Amen. Fear the ignorance. And fear the perpetrators of it.

Gods, I am still reeling from that vote.

Anonymous said...

Well written, Cele!! I would not like to know how I would be feeling right now if I were a California resident