Sunday, November 2, 2008

Friending with the Enemy: An Election Day Meditation

As we prepare for one the most-anticipated elections of the modern era in America, I wanted to invoke a political conversation that goes a little beyond Obama vs. McCain. Besides, I figured everyone reading this blog already knows my political proclivities.

In the real world, friendships are built on shared interests, time spent together and mutual admiration or respect. Meanwhile, in the Facebook world, something as simple as a five-minutes chat at an acquaintance's party is enough to establish a "friendship." Having sat across from one another in a crowded lecture hall or being ninth grade lab partners also is enough for two otherwise estranged people to establish a solid friendship based on frequent status updates and mini-feed stories.

So what happens when you learn a Facebook friend has political opinions so diametrically opposed to your own that you cannot fathom maintaining a friendship with them in the real world? Delete him was my all-too simple solution this week when a guy I went to high school with expressed his stauch support of California's Prop 8 via his status and profile picture.

For those unfamiliar with this despicable piece of proposed legislation, Prop 8's proper title is "
Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry" and states that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Charming, huh? This after the California Supreme Court ruled in May 2008 that such statues violate the California Constitution under the equal protection clause.

The debate over allowing two loving people of the same gender to legally enter the bonds and to enjoy the rights of marriage has raged in California for decades. Governor Schwarzenegger has twice vetoed acts to allow same-sex marriage but in the five months since the Supreme Court ruling went into effect 16,000 couples have celebrated their human right to marry.

Activists on both sides have come out in full force and according to US News and World Report, "The campaigns for and against Proposition 8 raised over $60 million with campaign contributions from over 64,000 people in all fifty states and more than twenty foreign countries, setting a new record nationally for a social policy initiative and trumping every other race in the country in spending except the presidential contest." John McCain has publicly supported Prop 8, joining the Mormon and Roman Catholic Churches, the Orthodox Union, Newt Gingrich, a San Diego school district and an Asian-American group.

On the side of human dignity and liberty is the group Equality Now, whose supporters include Bill Clinton, Dianne Feinstein, America Ferrera, Samuel L. Jackson, the LA Times, California Teachers Association, Google, ACLU, NAACP, ADL and numerous faith groups.

What has made the fight over Prop 8 so disturbing has been the advertisements on behalf of its proponents. They have alleged that teachers will be allowed to educate about same-sex marriage if it is not expressly illegal. Hmmm... my AP History teacher made us read about murder in the Civil War. I don't think that made me think it was suddenly legal to kill people. Further, the Supreme Court decision protects religious policies and practices so no officiant would be "required to solemnize a marriage in contravention of his or her religious beliefs.”

We won't know until Tuesday (or Wednesday if we go to sleep early), the results of the Prop 8 decision. If you're reading this from the great State of California (the land of my illustrious birth), I implore you to vote with equality instead of bigotry, justice instead of hate, compassion instead of fear. And tell your friends.


Liz said...

Thanks for your message on Prop 8. As a gay Californian, I appreciate your insight and compassion.

Stacy said...

I agree with you that Prop 8 is ridiculous. As a Libertarian, I often get confused with straight-up conservatives, when in fact Libertarians believe in limited government involvement in people's personal lives, such as over abortion and gay marriage rights.

And I know who you are referring to on Facebook. I'm a little surprised at him myself, to be honest.

Nancy said...

I believe I just deleted the same person from my facebook account for the same reason.