|jadzialove (jadzialove) wrote,|
@ 2012-05-09 14:08:00
|Current mood:||and bah!|
Carolina on my mind...
I wish I could say that I'm surprised. I am many things this morning: disappointed, a little ashamed, a little depressed (a lot of depressed, actually, but only a small portion of it stems from this), certainly a little bit bruised.
But I'm not surprised.
And I'd very much like to blame North Carolina, but this state is actually the 29th in our grand union to pass such a thing, limiting the rights of a certain portion of its people, and this state nests very happily in the long straps of the bible belt. So. No surprise.
The last few days have been difficult, to say the least. The people who wanted this thing put through were highly funded and highly motivated and highly organized and we've been inundated with television ads and rhetoric proclaiming how wrong and awful we (the 'Gays') are and I think most people just didn't understand the implications or possible ramifications, they were just doing what the pastor had told them to do and what all of their friends said they should do. I'm not saying I like it or that it's in any way acceptable, just that I understand how it happened. It's easy to see how even the people who might have thought, in general, 'well that's probably not a good idea making that Amendment,' but didn't really have a stake in it, thinking it really didn't affect them directly, didn't make the effort to go to the polls. Possibly they didn't even know the vote was yesterday, rather than in November when it might've been expected. They put this thing on a primary ballot, so voter turnout was less than 35 percent.
For us personally, the lead-up to the vote ended in a bittersweet Facebook explosion, blindsided by a person who we thought was our friend, thumping a heretofore unseen bible and shouting that our 'homosexual lifestyle' is wrong.
Let me tell you about my homosexual lifestyle. I live in a one bedroom apartment with a slightly insane cat and a woman who I've lived with and loved exclusively for 15 years. We pay our bills when we can, mostly late, we probably watch too much TV, we don't exercise enough (or ever), we worry, we take care of one another and try to make each other laugh as often as possible. We argue. We make up. We love.
Deviant stuff, I know.
The Facebook explosion was bittersweet because of the expected but appreciated support from various family members and friends, and the wonderful supportive things offered from some unexpected quarters.
The last few days have been difficult and maybe it's because I'm already fighting a months' long battle with depression (it's a draw most days, though the last week or so I seem to be losing ground), but despite my cynicism and my not-surprise, this one still knocked me down a bit.
Here's the thing - I don't know that I'd even want to get married. It's not something I'd ever thought possible as an option. But, to create an Amendment to the state constitution, limiting the rights of a portion of the population is incredible and terrifying and admittedly, kinda hurt-y. Especially when there are already laws against it, so it's really sort of a slap in the face:
'HEY GAYS, YOU ALREADY CAN'T DO THIS, BUT JUST TO REALLY MAKE OUR POINT, WE'RE GOING TO WRITE IT INTO THE STATE CONSTITUTION, SO YOU CAN'T BE SNEAKING YOUR LOVING COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS IN UNDER OUR NOSES, MAKING THEM LEGAL AND RUINING OUR MARRIAGES WITH THEM!'
But the scariest thing of all, at least to me, is that this campaign of fear and ignorance is entirely religion-based. There is absolutely no other reason for it than "the bible" tells them so. (Don't even get me started on the hypocrisy and the selective enforcement of the 'good' book's lessons.)
I was raised by a Saturday Afternoon Catholic and a man who was terrorized so thoroughly by ruler-wielding nuns he dropped out of high school. There was never any talk of things religious in the house, with the exception of Christmas, which was and is largely Santa-based, and Easter, which has everything to do with chocolate and jelly beans and peeps (yuck) and not a whole lot to do with church. Sometimes we (my sisters and I) attended mass with my mother on those Saturday afternoons and big holidays, but mostly I think she liked to go by herself, if only to get away from us for a while. And I can certainly understand the comfort of the ritual: Kneel, stand, respond accordingly, sit, stand, kneel, lather rinse repeat...
So I guess I was set up from the beginning to question what I was being fed, religion-wise. My mother did put me in a religion class once (two of my three sisters went on to make their confirmation during high school, so I'm only speaking for myself here). I think I was seven or eight years old. I drove the 'teacher' crazy with questions every step of the way. I wasn't being argumentative, not really, just sort of incredulous, looking around at the other kids and wondering 'Are you buying this?' From Adam and Eve on up... And seriously, this poor woman was someone's mom and we were in her kitchen and she had no idea what to make of me.
My relationship with religion never improved from there. My mom tried again when I was in middle school, but by then I had a fully-formed skepticism and so the classes were just a painful thing I had to do on Saturdays and being more organized and in a classroom, the teacher was not impressed with my questions. I didn't last long.
I remember when I was in fourth grade, ten years old or so, sitting in a history lesson. It was an election year and the teacher said, "Americans typically do not vote for overtly religious candidates." I made that a quote but I'm almost certainly paraphrasing - fourth grade was thirty-four years ago, after all. Thinking back now, it's entirely possible the woman was just not a fan of Jimmy Carter, but I remember what she said, if nothing else about the lesson (even the teacher's name escapes me) and I found real comfort in it at the time and it's been a kernel of hope over the years. Keeping religion and government separate was important to me, even then.
But I have a growing fear, borderline terrified if I'm honest, about religion and its current pervasiveness. I can see it so clearly, snaking its way into our government and I am, for the first time in my life, truly frightened. People who want religion in government don't see the harm in it, because they always assume that it's going to be their religion. But the only way that a democracy can work is to have a separation from church and state. Freedom of religion is a right in this country, an idea the country was founded on, and often people forget that freedom to practice their religion is also freedom from religion, from interference and influence. Not everyone in this country is Christian and let's face it, even within the Christian faith they can't agree wholly (if you don't believe me, try talking to a southern Baptist about Catholicism).
I'm not proposing that we do away with religion. I'm very much a 'to each his or her own' kinda gal and I'll even admit to occasional envy for people of faith - it would be really nice sometimes, to hold up my troubles and release them for a higher power to take care of. What a wonderful thought.
But a government by the people and for the people cannot be effective if it represents only SOME of the people.
An effective government cannot be shaped by religious opinion because it disenfranchises portions of the population it is supposed to represent. I don't want to live under a theocracy and believe me, no matter how devout you think you are, you don't either.
I am, today, depressed, disenfranchised and truly frightened, and I don't know what to do about it.
But I'm not surprised.