Saturday, December 6, 2008

Proposition 2

Once again I’m writing and making art about politics instead of concerning myself with Art or my art. I’ve read many critiques and arguments and/or diatribes against this venomous measure. Most of these state that, and I’m paraphrasing – “It’s about Love.” I agree - I want my partner of forty years, the man I love, to be entitled to the same rights as any heterosexual partner in "marriage," though I’ve got to get past my anger at the over sixty-two percent of Floridians that seem to think that, instead, he (and I) should be second class citizens.

As a resident of Florida I’m more concerned with the effects of Proposition 2 than with Proposition 8 in California, or with the measure passed by the citizens of Arizona. Proposition 2 is the most malevolent of the 3 in that all persons not married are persecuted by the written addition to our state constitution. All civil unions, same sex or otherwise are invalid. Anyone not married may not adopt his/her partner’s children whether heterosexual or homosexual. Unmarried partners may not pass on their estates to partner or children in death. Partners have no say in medical practice when one is incapacitated without having drawn up expensive legal documents in advance. Unmarried partners must file income taxes separately. And, there are at least sixty other rights that married heterosexual partners take for granted. However, Proposition 2, voted into existence by so many of Florida’s citizenry who would prefer not to live in an actual participatory democracy, but rather to live in a Republic of privilege based on sexual preference - strikes most venomously at heterosexual senior retirees who have lost their married partner. I wonder - do these voters including seniors who hate LGBT people, and who voted for Proposition 2 - realize that they have created constitutional law that requires that they personally live as second-class citizens whose freedoms are limited by law? I doubt that most have bothered to think their vote through to its actual effect on our state’s social and political life. Unfortunately, and I am paraphrasing Lincoln here, so long as one man is not free, so all men are not free.

From a personal point of view, I am angry. I am most angry with those mean spirited individuals responsible for having drawn-up the acrimonious provision in the first place. I am perhaps only slightly less angry with those who voted for Proposition 2 based on religious belief, since my Christian upbringing has led me to believe that Jesus Christ himself was an inclusive individual, and that the good news of his Gospel is that God loves us all. I am also angry with those who voted for Proposition 2 out of ignorance. In fact, at Thanksgiving, my brother-in-law proudly announced that he had voted for Proposition 2. When I confronted him with the actual legal ramifications of that addition to our state constitution, he changed his statement to, “I actually meant to say that I voted ‘NO’ on 2.” So, did he actually vote “NO?” Or did he not understand the legal language and/or implications of the proposition as written? I’ll never know. However, I do know my brother-in-law to be a reasonably intelligent individual, who though conservative on many political issues, has demonstrated that he harbors no ill feelings concerning my partner’s and my almost forty-one year commitment to one another, and in fact is pleased that he and I are equals within the family. Thus, I am left with the concern that many otherwise intelligent citizens voted for Proposition 2 without even a basic understanding of its ramifications.

Though this is a hot button emotional issue, it is also necessary to think practically about what must be done in order to remove this malignant constitutional – and, I believe ultimately illegal – amendment from our state’s constitution. We must educate Americans into an understanding of the difference between emotional and intellectual thought processes, and their responsibilities as practicing members of a democracy. And, we must make sure that the language used in our political process is clear and easily understood, not obfuscated in complex legalese.

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