Gay Marriage is My Jetpack

JetpackThere isn’t much doubt who’s going to get California’s electoral votes this year, because our yummy blue urban centers simply outweigh the hard candy shell of rural red conservatism. But much more up in the air, and the subject of a divisive and lie-filled campaign being waged on our TV sets, is the Prop. 8 battle, in which the forces of darkness are attempting to rewrite the state’s constitution to deny gay couples access to the word “marriage.”

It’s hot stuff in these parts. Even in Oakland, safe in the liberal bastion of the inner Bay Area, a streetcorner cabal of screeching freaks just this week attacked an innocent young woman for using a small video camera in a public space. That, my friends, is the face of Prop 8, and it is some crazy shit.

The Face of Proposition 8 (click here for a full account of the camera-grabbin’ meanness.) from Theremina on Vimeo.

I understand the Bible provides some folk with justification for opposing same-sex marriage. That’s no surprise, because the same long-abused volume provided earlier bigots with justification to favor slavery and oppose women voting, interracial marriage and, if Footloose was as well-researched as it seemed, the rock-and-roll dancing. These same “Christians” never get worked up about eating shellfish, or shaving, or the satanic cotton-poly blend, but I suppose one must pick one’s divine battles. And it’s clear they have, as the God-themed hate groups from outside California pour money into swaying the vote through deceptive, histrionic, but increasingly slick advertising.

I am unlikely to take part in the gay marryin’ myself—that’s just the way those genetics rolled. So, apart from sympathy with friends the whole “equality” thing, why am I so worked up? Why was I so happy when the California Supreme Court issued its landmark ruling back in May? As I watch the vicious, short-minded greed of the finance industry murder the global economy, I think I see why.

The future sucks. As a kid who grew up on comic books and science fiction movies, on stories in which tomorrow was better than today, I looked forward to a brighter, better world. Of course, I’ve gotten the message. From Neuromancer to The Dark Knight Returns to Blade Runner (which at least had flying cars!), the idea of the future sucking has not been overlooked—even in actual news sources, which assure me that the environment will get worse, that there will be more people and less food, that war will continue to be big businesses, and we haven’t learned to stand up against genocide even when there’s no profit motive. The rich will get richer, everyone else will get poorer, and I’ll probably die of a disease that hasn’t even been invented yet. Great stuff, huh? No flying car for me. No jetpack. I will not watch the sunrise on Mars.

But there is one thing I believe in, one thing that not only makes sense, but has empirical data driving it: The progress of the civil rights movement. Because slavery was abolished, and over the course of a painfully, unjustifiably slow hundred or so years, institutionalized racism has been steadily eroded. Women can own property, how cool is that? And they can vote, and insist on equal pay for equal work. The stigma of interracial dating and marriage has been eliminated in the law books and in much of the country’s social reality, as I’ve been given to understand. The rights of the disabled are more strongly protected than ever in history. Is there still a lot we need to improve in these regards? Hell yes. But look at the tide, look at the majestic sweep of history, and tell me that’s not a fine thing. (Well, no, don’t.)

So that’s it. Humanity’s slow crawl out of tribalism, ignorance, fear, selfishness and flat-out stupidity: That is my goddamned jetpack. And I know that if Prop. 8 fails, the tide of history will not be overturned. It’ll be slowed down, though, and I want it now. Should a crazy confluence of circumstances make me someone’s father someday, I want that kid to find the idea of a world where any two people in love can’t get married to be as unbelievably alien as the world my parents were born into, in which bans on interracial marriage weren’t conclusively destroyed until 1967. I want laws promoting or enshrining discrimination to be at least as extinct as the polar bear.

I’d trade a jetpack for that.