Friday, September 19, 2008

Gay wedding bells can be expensive

It would be accurate, and fair, to say, America worries me ... and I have cause to be worried, because I have family there, in Texas, Alaska, California, Florida, and North Carolina. One tends to worry to a certain extent, about the future into which one's darling little nieces and nephews are growing (pause for violin music, while video-montage of stock market crashing, troops invading yet another corner of some foreign land, forest fires burning, tornadoes whirling, cities flooding, plays in background).

There's a TV comedy in this country. Folks from other parts might never have heard of it, but it's been famous for thirty years downunder. KINGSWOOD COUNTRY. I'm not making this up, and to prove it:

Now, Kingswood Country has nothing whatever to do with price of gay marriage, but the central character, Ted Bullpitt (top left; and you can guess what everyone calls him) used to have a catch-phrase.

No wonder the country's in a mess.

It's a catch-phrase you might hear quite a lot in the US, after November --and especially in California, where little snippets of news like the following (pasted over, verbatim, from Witchita Falls OnLine), can take the foundations on which your life is built, and knock them out from under you:

    ...California's November ballot initiative that would overturn the state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

    It's the first time voters will be asked to ban same-sex marriage in a state where gay couples already have won the right to wed. Same-sex marriage is legal in Massachusetts and California.

You've just got your life put into order, everything is grand, you're married and settled, licensed and registered, insured and mortgaged, and ... suddenly the pattern of your life is put to a vote. A vote??? Not only that, but tons of money comes pouring into your home state from other states, to fund the campaign to rewrite your life. God-botherers in other parts of the US are apparently paying millions to swing the public vote; it'll all come out in the wash in November.

A couple of posts ago, I was looking at the question of 'human rights' (and gay rights are a sub-set of human rights: we're all human. Except in DC. There seem to be a lot of aliens and mutoids and weird trans-dimensional species there; so many, in fact, that they have a name. "Pohleetish'nz." Also known as "Raypuhbleek'nz" in some, though not all, circles -- and not all of the time).

November looks like being the deadline, when the poop hits the fan, in so many ways. It's about politics both home and away, the domestic economy, the standard of the public health, national security, America's "face" abroad, stopping the spread of diseases like HIV at home (where CDC just announced that the stats for the spread of the disease are 40% underestimated every year), getting kids a better education ... and figuring out if America can still bear the name, "The land of the free."

Freedom is about ... being free. Free to ... well, to be what you are; to do what you do, and do it the way you want to. Freedom is built on that one, single foundation.

There's a saying: Charity begins at home ... justice begins next door.

Here's the news, and you gotta love it:

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Brad Pitt has donated $100,000 to fight California's November ballot initiative that would overturn the state Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage.

And he nails down the case in clear, absolutely transparent terms:

"Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8," Pitt said Wednesday.

I'd go into court with that. I'd go to the polls with it ... in fact, California will, in about six weeks' time.

It's not about being gay, or having gay friend or relatives, or even finding gay culture chic. It's about recognizing what freedom actually means.

George Bernard Shaw wrote (I think, in Man and Superman, but I could be dead wrong there, it could have been any one of a dozen other plays; so don't quote me on the source), "I might not agree with what you say, but I would defend to the death your right to say it."

Same difference. The problem is (as I was saying in "Here comes Damocles with his chainsaw") that right of free speech cuts both ways and draws blood no matter where it lands. It might be your right to be gay and have a big, white gay wedding ... it's also the constitutional right of those God-botherers to speak up, and out, against you.

The next six weeks in California are going to be interesting -- for me, more interesting than the presidential campaign. Why is that?

Who lands in the White House is critical for the long-term survivability of the rest of the planet. Example: the US owes seven and a half TRILLION dollars to China (!), and Palin and McCain look forward to Armageddon; why not go pick a fight with the Chinese, so you don't have to pay back the $7,500,000,000,000.00 (goddamn, that's a lot of zeroes), and the missile exchange would be sure to bring Jesus back to take the righteous to heaven, so it's a win/win situation. Right? Omigod). However --

What the people of California decide regarding gay marriage rights in November is, in fact, more important, because an official referendum if a very accurate barometer of the public mind, public sentiment, the "collective consciousness," if I might be forgiven for misquoting Jung.

Presidents come and presidents go. Some get shot. Some start wars. Some pay off the national debt (come back, Bill, all is forgiven!) while peace spontaneously breaks out all over he world. No matter how foolish, hidebound, corrupt, or even wicked a government might turn out to be, four years later, the whole thing goes back to the country. The sandcastle gets turned back into slush, and you can start over.

[Incidentally, in Australia -- where we have what's known as a "Washminster Democracy" -- we have an additional safeguard. If or when a government has, frankly, gone bonkers, the Prime Minister can be sacked. Yes, you read that right. Dismissed. Fired. Chucked off the job. Given the bum's rush. Thank gods we have this safeguard, which is a leftover of our British Commonwealth days ... it helps to keep some of the bastards honest. And yes, it's happened: a PM was sacked, about thirty years ago.]

However, though presidents and governments come and go, the PEOPLE are the backbone, heart and soul of a nation, and it's what they think, feel and believe which counts ... because this is the quality we all have to live with. You can't vote it out in four years. You can't assassinate it. You can't debate it, impeach it or imprison it. The PEOPLE are the force which drives a nation.

And it comes down to this: Can America still wear the laurels of the "land of the free?" Or do strict, rigid conditions apply to freedom? And who sets those conditions, on what terms?

The rest of us are watching with baited breath, waiting to know how it turns out ... not what air-head in eye-glasses is going to giggle her way into the oval office when a geriatric nitwit has had a heartattack under the pressure and died ... but, what do the PEOPLE think and feel and want?

Thanks to Brad Pitt, and celebrities like him -- though it seems they haven't been as generous with their contributions (maybe they're feeling the sting of the current economic collapse?) -- there's some funding in the kitty to pay for a pro-freedom campaign. TV time, pamphlets, posters, whatever it takes.

The issue might be dressed up as "gay marriage rights," but that's just the costume it's wearing. The issue is human rights ... freedom, in the land of the free.

Fingers, toes and eyes crossed. We can only hope. If the vote goes south and it turns out there's no right of marriage for millions and millions of Americans, while there's an air-head in eye-glasses giggling and simpering and posturing in the oval office, then it will certainly be time to dig out and dust off Ted Bullpitt's catch-phrase.

Say it with me, now. Let's all say it together and get it just right ... can't hurt to practise a bit on the inflection and tone. You don't even have to say it in an Aussie accent (unless you want to). Here we go. On three: One, two ... no wonder the country's in a mess.

Hey, sounded great from here!




Jeff said...

Great post. As a gay Californian, I'm so proud that we have same-sex marriage in our state, and of course am watching Prop 8 very closely and telling everyone I can to vote against the ban. Only 45 days to Election Day!

Mel Keegan said...

I think we're all counting down and holding our breath. California has so much to be proud of, and a "yes" vote there should open the doors wide in many other forward-looking states -- Washington, Oregon and New York, to name a few. I wish I had a vote to cast in the cause, but the best I can do is wish you well ... in fact, the whole world has crossed fingers right now.

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