Saturday, September 20, 2008

Adam and Steve (and Brad)

On Wednesday Brad Pitt announced that he has donated $100,000 to fight Proposition 8, the California initiative to ban same-sex marriage. Two years ago this month, the actor pledged that he and Angelina Jolie would not marry until gays and lesbians in the United States could marry.

Though presumably the cause is one with which socially liberal Hollywood sympathizes, Pitt’s donation is the largest that the anti-8 pro-gay movement has received so far.

The proposition, which voters will decide on in November, surfaced after California’s Supreme Court declared in May that the existing ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, prompting a flurry of gay-lesbian marriages in the state, most notably the August nuptials of Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. California and Massachusetts are the only US states that have legal same-sex marriage.

Officially called the “Limit on Marriage” Constitutional Amendment, the California proposition would change the state constitution to read, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Although polls predict that Prop 8 will likely be defeated, its supporters have raised $16 million, mostly in individual fat checks from wealthy Mormons, compared to the opposition’s $11 million—money for TV ads targeting the hearts and minds of California’s undecided population, 18-22 percent of likely voters.

John McCain voiced his support for the amendment in June. Organizations supporting Prop 8 include the Roman Catholic Church, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and various evangelical mega-churches. Don Wildmon’s American Family Association has contributed $500,000 to the cause, and James Dobson’s Focus on the Family has contributed $400,000.

Barack Obama voiced his opposition for Prop 8 in July. Republican governor Arnold Schwarzenegger opposes the amendment. Six California Episcopal bishops issued a statement earlier this month, opposing the bill.

I realize that, for many, gay marriage is a non-issue. Admittedly issues of war, the economy, healthcare, and global warming have priority.

I am of two minds about gay marriage—angry that legal privileges and rights expressly exclude gays, lesbians, and bisexuals, and yet unenthusiastic about the prospects of becoming a “respectable” minority, integrated into an essentially corrupt society.

But the fervor over McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate demonstrates the degree to which America is a reactionary, Jesus-haunted, though flagrantly hypocritical nation, especially hypocritical in matters of sex. The so-called culture wars are at least as real as the wars on drugs and terrorism—and arguably more important to the country’s future. In this area, we Americans are so far behind nations like Spain, Brazil, and, well, probably almost everybody but China, India, and Islamic theocracies.

America’s hang-ups about homosexuality—and sex in general—are as embarrassing as the country’s inability to deal honestly with its hang-ups about race and poverty.

And with the end of the cold war some 20 years ago, homosexuals have replaced communists as the hobgoblins of right-wingers, who sense homophobia as the most potent and lucrative emotional trigger to further their disastrous military, economic, social policies. Even 9-11 failed to take the heat off gays—since media figures, both religious and not, have linked America’s so-called “tolerance” for homosexuals to terrorism … and hurricanes.

As I see it, then, this is no non-issue. America’s failure to deal with “Adam and Steve” is tied to its bloodthirstiness for Armageddon.

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