It's God's fault
The cruel success of Prop. 8? Not Newsom, not gays. Blame You Know Who
By Mark Morford, SF Gate Columnist
Michigan just legalized medical pot. Liddy Dole is gone. John Sununu is gone. The Dems picked up at least six Senate seats. North Carolina went blue for the first time in more than three decades. A teen girl in California, for the third time now, won't be forced to notify her parents if she wants an abortion.South Dakota easily beat back, for the second time, the most repellent anti-choice legislation in the nation. Colorado was close behind, trouncing an insidious proposition that would've deemed a zygote a whole little person. California will get high-speed rail. The smart black dude actually won.
It's almost a grand sweep. It's almost the most forward-thinking, thoroughly stunning election in American history, so much dead wood and so many old evangelical poisons swept from the national dialogue, it's as though we just swallowed a grand emetic of possibility, and purged like never before.
Amid the glory and the disbelief and the Obamapalooza, the thorn. The nail in the pudding. The kidney punch during the massage.
Some say the inglorious success of Prop. 8, the brutally regressive measure that removes the rights of very specific people who love very specific other people from ever marrying them, can be blamed on multiple factors.
Some say it was Gavin Newsom's smugness and political recklessness. Some blame Feinstein for daring to support Prop. 8's defeat. Some blame the black and Latino communities for their shocking and rather heartbreaking support of what essentially amounts to a civil rights abuse of the very kind they themselves fought so hard to overcome.
Or maybe it's all those sad, white, central portions of the state, the huge chunks of voters who live in places without much culture or perspective or major universities, who only hear certain strains of spiteful rhetoric and thin fearmongering, whose general lack of education means they apparently still believe certain flavors of love will poison everyone's soup and ruin the sanctity of the time-honored 50-percent heterosexual missionary position Christian divorce rate.
And I must say -- and you might not want to hear this -- a big chunk of blame for 8's passage has to go to the No on 8 campaign's initial arrogance, followed by their utterly limp reaction when the Yes campaign started attacking and gaining real steam. As one of my politically savvy Chronicle colleagues put it, "No on 8 was a bad campaign. Bad bad bad. Inept, amateurish, incompetent and, above all, guilty of committing the first and worst sin of politics: taking the voters for granted."
But I don't think it stops there. Because when you peel back all those surface factors, when you trace the line of quasi-reasoning back to its source, to the "real" reason many people voted for Prop. 8, I think the real blame lies with, well, the Almighty himself.
That's right, I blame God.
Wait, check that. Let me say it with the proper intonation and slant: Imagine my voice trembling, the very earth beneath my feet rumbling, the very letters you are about to read appearing in enormous gothic capitals, dripping with fire and smoke and Budweiser logos, all surrounded by scowling cherubim armed with poorly printed pamphlets and a severe dislike of throbbing techno: GOD.
What, too much? I don't think so.
Who stabbed marriage equality to death, again? The Mormon Church. Catholic groups. Evangelicals. Militant fundamentalists. Reclusive, sickly, notoriously right-wing billionaires like Howard Ahmanson, a guy who also funded a radical Christian theologian madman who himself endorses stoning gay people to death. The mother of Eric Prince, CEO of the notorious Blackwater thugs-for-hire company.
Behind it all, it's God. No, not the god you and I understand as a universal, non-gendered, asexual, love-drunk energy coursing through all things at all times everywhere without the slightest wisp of prejudice or geographical preference, but that famously small, myopic version, the one that encourages a literalist interpretation of very carefully selected Bible verse (to the complete disregard of myriad others) -- a version that, in short, has been drilled into the consciousness of far too many voters for far too long.
Is it not true? Once again this election, in pulpits across America, the call rang out: We must stop the gays. We cannot allow them entry into the sanctuary of Eternal Hetero Love. After all, marriage is (these people believe) the last upstanding Christian stronghold, the final barrier preventing America from becoming some sort of Sodom-iffic nipple-pierced polyamorous rave party where anyone can marry anything and pets are running scared and people stick parts of their bodies into other people's parts for sexual pleasure. The horror.
And yes, it must be said: Sad indeed to imagine many of those black pastors up there, cheering Obama's win and deeming this a new dawn for blacks after so many years of struggle for basic civil rights, while in the next breath talking up the wrath of God that will strike parishioners should they allow homosexuals to register for stemware at Crate & Barrel. Talk about disingenuous.
Let me suggest it outright: The vast majority of Yes on 8 voters seem to have been motivated, at least in part, by this sad misunderstanding of God, this harsh spiritual slant that supports a discriminatory, micromanager Almighty who fully endorses marital bliss, but only for some.
(Interestingly, I believe this is the same God who, until recently, didn't allow whites to marry blacks. Or women to vote. Or slaves to be free. Or people to get divorced. Or women to become priests. Or humans to wear condoms. Hmm.)
Then again, when you put it that way, the ugly fight for Prop. 8 makes perfect sense. After all, hetero marriage is all organized religion really has left, their last vestige of power and control. Everything else they fought so hard to inject into the national agenda -- intelligent design, God's war against Muslims, the end of reproductive choice, more prayer in schools, abstinence education, et al -- not only failed, but failed spectacularly. No wonder they're clinging to this rigid, outdated idea of marriage so violently.
So let me correct myself. I don't blame God. I certainly don't blame the kind of fluid, open-throated spiritual awareness that promotes, rather than denigrates, all forms of consensual love, that understands the human soul is ever in flux and must, like the society that forms around it, be allowed to grow and evolve lest it stumble and atrophy and vote Republican.
I do not blame God. I blame a very gloomy, revisionist version of the divine, a sour and demeaning mindset that believes in restriction, constriction, dread.
The good news is, I think Prop. 8's desperate, last-gasp victory merely reveals that this hollow, homophobic version of God is waning, sliding, fighting for its last taste of relevance, soon to be replaced by something just a bit more dynamic and open-hearted and, well, truly divine.
The bad news is, it's just going to take a bit longer than we'd hoped.