Hawbaker: Another round for equality

I work in construction and I try to explain to the guys that we’re all just people.

On a fall Sunday morning in Biddeford, Maine, the man whose breakfast I’d just interrupted with a knock on the door pretty much summed it up. “We’re all just people.” That was why Mainers were fighting so hard to defeat Question 1, fighting to keep the marriage equality the legislature had finally extended to the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community over the summer. That was why America’s LGBT community had come to Maine, why straight allies had come, why I was there, why the 23 other Yalies were there. “We’re all just people.

Last Tuesday’s election in Maine was the 31st time gay marriage came before the people of a state for a vote. And just like the last 30 times, equality lost. It still hurts, maybe more than it did before.

We don’t know why this happened. We don’t understand this hatred. We get angry and we crave someone to blame. We can point the finger at the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, Maine, the status quo. We can lose ourselves in the despondency of an electoral loss.

Or we can look ahead. We can pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and throw ourselves back into the fray.

Will it be easy? No. Does it make this loss for equality hurt any less? No. But we should not forget what this is about: civil rights. We have a struggle to continue.

We should take heart that in the course of American history, civil rights eventually win out, the inequalities are eventually corrected. But they have never been given freely and they won’t be now. Lethargy and apathy will not suffice to achieve equality. They never have. The forces arrayed against us are organized, disciplined and passionate. And so they have always been against those striving for equality. The long march to total equality, from the Reconstruction amendments to women’s suffrage to the civil rights of the ’60s, is still going on. Our cause is in the same spirit as those, our fight in the same tradition. The banner is now ours to pick up, ours to carry.

We know the history of setbacks and we prepare for future difficulties, but Maine is past. Proposition 8 is past. Our generation is just coming into this fight. Let us not leave this problem to the next one. History will not judge us or our nation kindly if we do. We must continue this fight. We must do it for the likes and legacies of Harvey Milk and Cleve Jones, for our family and friends, for ourselves.

We must declare that we will win out. We must declare that we will not settle for anything less than full equality for the LGBT community. We must declare that we will win out no matter how many doors we must knock on, tears we must shed, hours we must sweat, calls we must make, dollars we must raise, arguments we must wage, losses we must endure or minds we must change. Equality and decency are on our side, history and our country’s ideals are at our backs. Learn from past losses, and don’t give up the fight. Remember: “We’re all just people.” Let’s go to work.

Luke Hawbaker is a freshman in Ezra Stiles College.

Comments

  • Yale 2008

    Thank you, to the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, Maine, the status quo.

    This gay “marriage” hullabaloo needs to go away. like NOW.

  • ROFLCOPTER

    Apparently Mainers *weren’t* “fighting so hard to defeat Question 1″.

    Gay Marriage has now failed 31 times out of 31 tries in the states where it’s been put to a democratic vote.

  • Hieronymus

    Me. Me. Me me me me me.

    Me! Me? Yes, me! Whee for me!

    “Hatred?” Get over yourselves. The opposite of “love” is *not* “hate” (indeed, “it’s a thin line between love and hate”); the opposite of “love” is more akin to “apathy.”

    That Mainers, apparently, do not love gays or gay marriage (although some likely do) doesn’t mean that Mainers hate gays or gay marriage (although some likely do), it more likely implies that Mainer’s don’t really give a rat’z azz for your “cause” (or, well, you).

    Don’t take it so personally.

    In another trans article in today’s pap is the phrase “homophobia or heterosexism.” I love how heteronormativity is not breathed into analogousness with the current author’s “hatred.”

    Preference for the modal normality does not necessarily mean hatred of other modalities; it just means that the importance or validity of the argument is rejected or ignored.

  • useful lies

    it’s very useful for proponents of same sex marriage to claim that anybody who has qualms about changing the legal definition of marriage must be ‘full of hate.’

    unfortunately, the claim doesn’t stand up to any sort of scrutiny whatsoever. 51% of Maine residents who voted on the question thought that the union of two people of the same gender does not fit their definition of marriage. Very, very few of them are full of hate. In fact, I’m willing to bet there are more progressives in Maine for whom “catholic” is a dirty word, than there are people for whom “gay” is.

    I guess that the fact that Socrates never propounded changing the Athenian definition of marriage means that he was a hateful homophobe?

    Or maybe the fact that it never occurred to Oscar Wilde that the union of two men could be considered a marriage, Oscar Wilde was full of hate for homosexuals?

    Perpetuating the myth that all of your political opponents are bigots will only enhance political mis-understanding. If you’re actually interested in achieving your goals, you should start talking about the real, tangible, concrete benefits of same sex marriage instead of writing off all opponents as ‘full of hate.’

  • Y11

    I’m all for gay marriage, but frankly, these guys all have points. Just as the people who most often scream “RACIST” are usually more racist than their targets, those who scream “BIGOT” are often more hateful than their targets.

  • Yes, But…

    So, the previous comments have missed the point. You say that it’s not about hating homosexuals or being uncomfortable with them; it’s just that you have another definition of marriage.

    However, all the LGBT community is asking for is that you keep that definition to yourself. Let both heterosexuals and homosexuals marry who they love. It costs heterosexual couples nothing, nothing at all. Two lesbians getting married and raising a family doesn’t diminish the value of a straight couple getting married and raising a family.

    For heterosexuals to deny marriage to homosexuals, even though it costs them nothing and tramples on equality, is cruel disdain at least and probably crosses the line into hatred.

  • Yale’11

    The same time Maine voted on Question 1, Washington voters just approved a bill that expands “the rights, responsibilities, and obligations accorded state-registered same-sex and senior domestic partners to be equivalent to those of married spouses, except that a domestic partnership is not a marriage.”

    If gay couples in Maine, or any other state, just wanted “equal rights”, they would have done what Washington did. But that’s not enough is it? I’m very much for extending rights to all domestic partners, but I don’t think the government should have a place in giving out marriage licences to gay OR straight couples. It just had to take over that responsibility from the church… Well, the government dug its own hole.

  • apathy?

    The people of Maine basically just voted that homosexual couples don’t deserve the same rights that heterosexual couples are afforded through marriage–you’ll note that Maine doesn’t have civil unions. Maybe immediately assuming hatred is a tad unfair…but you can’t call that apathy. These people cared enough about what gay marriage would mean to vote against it. Moreover, the fact that the gay-marriage opposition was willing to spread lies (“It’ll be taught in public schools!”) in order to win says something about their sentiments surrounding the issue.

    Also, it’s rather offensive to suggest that to so-called progressives, Catholic is a dirty word. They’re not mutually exclusive, after all. Incidentally, I suspect, based on that suggestion, that #4 knows nothing about Maine except that it’s a blue state. We’re talking New England here, not California, or even New York.

  • y09

    The rights of minorities cannot and should not be subjected to popular vote or be dependent on majority approval.

    I’m also comforted by the fact that support for gay marriage is steadily increasing over time as older conservatives die off and are replaced by younger, more liberal voters.

  • 6 is wrong

    It’s no more reasonable for the homosexual community to decry the religious belief that marriage is between man and woman than it is for the proponents of said belief to defend against against gay marriage. You do not hold a monopoly on the term “equality.”

    Why do you hate our interpretation? Do you truly think Obama hate gays or harbors cruel disdain for them? You’re correct; homosexual marriage does not present a tangible cost to the heterosexual community. However, the homosexual community is asking mainstream heterosexual Christians (not just right wing nuts) to ACTIVELY vote against their religion in favor of a behavioral right, however innate. This debate belongs in the religious rather than political realm.

    Gays must be given equal benefits under the law. Yet, marriage is a religious title. You should be lobbying the Archbishop and the Pope if you seek to lay proper claim to that title.

  • Marriage Minded Male

    Not trying to be antagonistic, just trying to help you understand:

    Marriage, from a State and majority perspective, is less a “bottom up” contract (i.e., State recognition of and support for marriage is not primarily about the personal relationships of the couple getting married) than it is a top-down “institution.”

    From Child Trends research:
    “[F]amily structure matters for children, and the family structure that helps children the most is a family headed by two biological parents in a low-conflict marriage. Children in single-parent families or in step-families or cohabiting relationships face higher risks of poor outcomes… There is thus value for children in promoting strong, stable marriages between biological parents.”

    While individuals freely choose to enter marriage, society upholds the marriage option, formalizes its definition, and surrounds it with norms and reinforcements, so we can raise boys and girls who aspire to become the kind of men and women who can make successful marriages. Without this shared, and perpetuated public aspect, marriage becomes what its critics say it is: a mere contract, a vessel with no particular content, one of a menu of sexual lifestyles, of no fundamental importance to anyone outside a given relationship.

    Children need mothers and fathers; societies need babies; and adults have an obligation to shape their sexual behavior so as to give their children stable families in which to grow up.

    Even today, half of all pregnancies are unintended: Sex between men and women STILL makes babies. Most men and women are powerfully drawn to perform a sexual act that can and does generate life.

    Marriage is society’s attempt to reconcile and harmonize the erotic, social, sexual, and financial needs of men and women with the needs of their partner and their children.

    Of COURSE many couples fail to live up to the marriage ideal. Many of the things needed to sustain a marriages, and a culture of marriage, are HARD. Few people will do them consistently if the larger culture does not affirm the critical importance of marriage as a social institution. Why stick out a frustrating relationship, turn down a tempting new love, abstain from sex outside marriage, or even take pains not to conceive children out of wedlock if family structure does not matter?

    If marriage is just a way of publicly celebrating private love, then there is no need to encourage couples to stick it out. If family structure does not matter, why have marriage laws at all?

    Do adults, or do they not, have a basic obligation to control their desires so that children can have mothers and fathers?

    The problem with endorsing gay marriage is not that it would allow a handful of people to choose alternative family forms, but that it would require society to gut marriage of its central presumptions about family in order to accommodate a few adults’ desires.

  • Which right wins?

    It’s been brought up before. Some say it will happen while others say it’s rhetoric used to instill fear into the hearts of voters. Who will win this “movement”?

    Drawing on the past performance of activists in favor of anything “Gay”, the question I must come to grips with is in reference to the future. What happens when one disgruntled gay activist decides it’s discrimination for a church to deny a request to be married in a certain place by a certain person simply because of the couple’s sexual preference? It is put before the legal system. A judge decides to legislate from the bench (nothing new) and it is now a hate crime to deny any petition for marriage for any reason.

    Critics of the traditional marriage stance have/will dismiss/ed this as something that could never occur. I beg to differ. Past performance is a great future predictor and I’ve seen the way many of these activists work. If they don’t get total acceptance, legitimizing their lifestyle, they will fight tooth and nail until it is “put on the books”.

    So, if this were ever to occur . . . which “right” would supersede?

  • Marriage Minded Male

    And, while marriage is a legal institution for managing the sexually based phenomenon of procreation, no, marriage is not JUST about baby-making.

    Marriage exists to encourage men and women to create children in the RIGHT context, and to discourage them from creating children in the WRONG context.

    Marriage is the only human relationship that can both produce the next generation of babies AND connect those babies to both their mother and father.

    As for those who will now cite childless or post-fertile couples: the State is not in the business of divining individuals’ intentions or capabilities. As a class, male/female pairings are where babies come from…
    Sex makes babies. Society needs babies. Babies deserve their mother and father.

    These concepts (and conceptions) underlie the fundamental apathy towards same-sex marriage.

  • ThankGOD

    Thank GOD we live in a democracy and the people HAVE SPOKEN!!!!! Marriage is and always should be between a man and a woman!!!!

  • Eli Markham Stiles ’13

    All of you commenters are cowards for not posting under your real names. If you have an opinion that you want other people to hear you should be willing to speak up under your own name. I have zero respect for anyone not willing to post under their own name. Meaning all of you commenters. Those of you whose opinions I agree with, namely #6, #8, and #9, do your opinions a disservice by not supporting them fully with your real name.

  • Voice of Reason

    #14 By ThankGOD 5:11p.m. on November 9, 2009

    Thank GOD we live in a democracy and the people HAVE SPOKEN!!!!! Marriage is and always should be between a man and a woman!!!!

    What you describe is a theocracy. Not a democracy. Certainly not the representative democracy upon which our country was founded. Your cheer is wholly un-American.

  • Voice of Reason

    Thank you, to the Catholic Church, the Mormon Church, Maine, the status quo.

    This gay “marriage” hullabaloo needs to go away. like NOW.

    Does this post appear as an alternate definition to “un-American” in the dictionary? It should and could.

  • @9

    Aha, so, liberals love the common man until, surprise surprise, the common man falls short of their educated and progressive standards. At which point it’s away with democracy! Huzzah!

    I don’t agree on this particular issue, but I’m glad people are at least realizing how silly this system is when the population is, put lightly, quite stupid.

  • Recent Alum

    #15, it’s easy for you to post under your real name since you would never be discriminated against or subject to harrassment for your political views. The same cannot be said for, for example, Peter Vadala, who recently lost his job for politely expressing his opposition to homosexual marriage.

  • skeptic

    Now, how about a vote on straight marriage? I bet it would fail, too.

    Time to get government out the religious rite called “marriage” and let human beings enter into whatever arrangement(s) suit(s) them best.

    Just because some of our population have various views on what it “traditional” or “what God ordained”, blah, blah, blah.. there is insufficient reason for a supposedly secular government to impose these views on the rest of us.

  • y09

    Where did I claim to love the common man? Direct democracy (via ballot initiatives, for example) is a dangerous thing. I don’t think this is a particularly odd view; the Founders were well aware of the dangers of democracy (as opposed to republicanism), thus why the Constitution created a republic. There is no federal role for ballot initiatives of this sort, and for good reason – minority groups will inevitably be oppressed by the majority. For example, the South would never have voted to integrate their schools, but I doubt anyone is going to argue that forcing them to do so was a bad thing.

    Recent Alum, when you call your manager a deviant and tell your co-workers that you hate “the homosexual lifestyle” and “people like that”, yeah, you might get fired. Just like an atheist would be fired if they harassed their manager about being religious, or an evangelical harassed their manager about being a heretic. The key word is harassed.

  • Recent Alum

    I love how “Voice of Reason” comes here just to call those he disagrees with “un-American” without even trying to make a substantive point. Classic.

  • @Alum

    Vadala lost his job for telling a co-worker, a lesbian, that her lifestyle is “bad stuff.” He had no reason to say this, particularly not while at work. It’s creating a hostile work environment. I would expect someone to likewise be fired for criticizing a co-worker’s religion ethnicity.

  • Alexandra Stein

    @10: I am all for the Catholic Church and the Episcopalians and every other religious group doing whatever they want to do. However, marriage is in part a civil institution in this country – it confers state and federal benefits. I’d also be fine with marriage belonging only to religions and the state only conferring civil unions, but given that that is not happening any time soon, the government should extend marriage rights to gay and lesbian couples. After this has happened churches will still be able to do whatever they want, including discriminate against same-sex couples. Maine’s gay marriage law even had explicit exemptions for religious institutions (which were redundant, given the separation of church and state). Discrimination should not be enshrined in United States law.

    @19 Wow. Um. Where to begin? First of all, Mr. Vadala would have been well advised not to call his superior a “deviant.” I dunno about you, but to me that does not scream “polite.” It seems like he was fired not because of his beliefs per say, but because of how his expression of them negatively impacted his relations with his coworkers. Maybe I’m wrong, but it seems to me that anyone who goes around insulting the people he or she works with has a fair chance of getting fired. Second of all, are you aware that in most states, LGBT people can still be fired just for being LGBT? It’s in the face of this reality that your comment seems particularly ironic.

  • @skeptic

    I’m not at all unsympathetic to your argument–I agree that it would be for the best if marriage was redefined as merely a religious institution, without the uncomfortable simultaneously-religious-and-civil meaning it has now.

    That said, the state *is* in the business of marrying people, and that isn’t a fact likely to change anytime soon. And since the state only chooses to recognize certain types of relationships between two consenting adults as marriage while excluding others, it becomes a question of equality.

  • Jordon Walker

    As a black man, I find it absolutely terrible that the rights of individuals are even being put to a popular vote. If the civil rights movement had been put to a referendum I would not be at this institution and would probably still be living in a segregated south. When are people going to realize they have NO say in the rights of others. Your definition of marriage doesn’t mean anything, two people who love each other have a right to be together whether you like it or not.

    Could you imagine people in Virginia voting on Loving v Virginia? Then why should anyone be allowed to vote on the rights of others.

    We should let courts decide the issue, just as courts enforced the civil liberties of African-Americans, because the electorate it too full of hate and ignorance.

  • ada

    I thought just hillbillies and zealots were against gay marriage. I’m shocked there are so many Yale graduates who are into this bs. I thought this was something that the intellectual classes had been able to think through: if you don’t believe in gay marriage, don’t marry a gay person. It’s that simple. Equality is coming; get used to it.