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Just Say No: A God-fearing approach to Californiaís Proposition 8

AsianWeek, Commentary, Emil Guillermo Posted: Oct 25, 2008

I no more believe that marriage should be only between a man and a woman than I believe the world is flat.

Itís definitely not, even if you live in hilly parts of San Franciscoís Sunset District.

But try telling that to the supporters of Californiaís Proposition 8, the last-gasp attempt to codify a discriminatory definition of marriage into the California Constitution.

The Prop 8 folks insist on their limited worldview and want to memorialize their bigotry by making it state law.

Itís the kind of proposition slaveholders would have circulated after the Emancipation Proclamation. Wonít you please reconsider slavery?

Prop 8 is what I call the ďrecourse for sore losers.Ē The California Supreme Court already ruled in May that any law that would narrowly define marriage as between a man and a woman was an unconstitutional violation of the Equal Protection Clause. That should have ended it. But the Prop 8 folks are trying an end run on both the Constitution and the Supreme Court with this last plea for exclusion.

What makes it harder still is if youíre a church-going Asian American, especially a Catholic. Ever see any Filipinos at church? Depending on what diocese youíre in, churchgoers are constantly being harangued from the pulpit in these final days before the election and urged to push Prop 8 with an evangelical zeal.

Can you be a practicing Catholic and resist the guilt-laden pitches of your parish priest? Hey, this is America. Of course, you can. Itís your duty. And God said so in the Gospel.

Thatís right, I said God and the Gospel

You donít often see media folks use such words as God and Gospel in public, let alone in the same sentence. But religion and spirituality play a big role in the campaign of Prop 8. In the absence of political logic, guilt does wonders.

If you were at Mass last week (if you werenít, the bishops can thank things such as their stance on Prop 8), you probably stood for the Gospel and heard the line ďrender unto Caesar what is Caesarís and unto God what is Godís.Ē

Matthew 22:21 couldnít have come up in the church calendar at a better time. Itís Jesus answering his doubters who try to expose his spiritual hypocrisy. Itís been interpreted and reinterpreted by biblical scholars, but for the most part the line has shaped the idea of the separation of church and state.

Use it as your firewall to ward off bullying priests who go Prop 8 on you.

So what is Caesarís besides that omnipresent wreath on his head? Among other things, itís all this proposition nonsense in the material world. And when leaders of organized religion play in Caesarís world, they are exposed for what they are: imperfect, human, fallible.

If you need a reminder of this, just think of the Catholic Churchís multimillion-dollar sex scandal, and you can see how wrong organized religion and men in long cassocks can be.

When the men of the cloth cross over from Godís world, they tend to make mistakes. Prop 8 is one of them.

Render unto God

On the other side of the firewall is all that is Godís. Itís the side of all souls living and dead: black, white, Latino, Asian, straight, gay or celibate.

This is the realm where the truth registers, where you see your friends and relatives in committed gay and lesbian relationships. This is the world of love, not hate.

I get that feeling when I visit my cousin Pauline and her partner Jill. Theyíve been married for some time now. I wrote about their wedding in a column, ďMy Big Fat Lesbian Wedding,Ē a coming out, of sorts, for me. As someone who likes women, I declared my solidarity as a lesbian.

Recently, I visited the couple in their home on a typical night. Imagine, they were playing with their daughter
ó now two and a half!

Their daughter was a bundle of energy. She ran around the house, rolled on the floor, tossed her ball in the air, all while talking out her world for all to hear.

I recognized the moment instantly. With my wife, I have raised three kids. Were the parenting, the family structure, really any different from anything I knew? Not one bit, right down to the bath-time routine. By any definition, I was in the presence of a marriage with strong family values.

Given the 50-percent divorce rate and the other alarming failure rates in family- and child-rearing issues, straight folks donít have such a great record. The traditional definition of marriage has wrought its share of pathologies on society, of which no one can be proud.

I thought of that as I saw my cousinís happy family focused totally on their toddler, who had been put up for adoption with a precarious, uncertain future until she was given two mommies and a traditional home filled with real love.

A rigid law on marriage undermines the very thing we should celebrate. The love I saw in my cousinís family that night is an example of what makes our society great at the core. On Election Day, we must affirm that belief by voting NO on 8.

Emil is thinking at amok.asianweek.com.

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Get Us to the Church on Time Ė Gays Rush to Marry Before November

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