Slinging a smooth stone
I have watched the proceedings in San Francisco with a feeling of dread. I've seen this before. I watched as the harsh words were thrown across the expanse of a street some 50 feet wide, and in some ways 50 years back across time. What is happening now in San Francisco and Boston bears an eerie resemblance to Selma, Birmingham and Little Rock in the 1960s. Then as now, you have a small vocal group flaunting civil disobedience in the face of conventional opinion.
Then as now you had some ministers preaching from the pulpit about what is “...evil in God's eyes.” And it wasn't just The “mixing of the races” that was preached against. In 1960, during the presidential elections, things were said and printed against John Kennedy just because he was of the Catholic faith.
During the late 1950s and up into the early 1970s I watched on television and in newsreels, as Jim Crow laws were dismantled. I grew up in an era when a black man could go to Korea and Vietnam, lose a limb, his mind or his life; but in his own nation he could be denied the right to vote or to swim with, eat with, or attend movies, school or church services with, the very white men he had fought for, bled for and/or died with.
It took another bloody war in our streets at home to eliminate separate schools, rest rooms and water fountains. On the television screen I saw police officers who had sworn to uphold the law, turn dogs, clubs and fire hoses on people who were walking, (not rioting) in the streets of the South and North. And yes there was rioting; Detroit, and Watts come to mind.
Three of my four sons have no comprehension other than what I and history texts have told them about racial discrimination and the blood that was shed to come as far as we have toward elimination of that social sickness. However, I have a son who has had a taste of what it feels like to be hated because he is “different.” He is a homosexual. Let no one doubt that I love my sons .
For those of you secure in being heterosexual and having never watched as your child grew into puberty bewildered, trust me, in my experience and observation, this isn't a choice. Though with the same breath I cannot explain why it happens. If you haven't watched as your wife, his mother, blamed herself, cried herself to sleep wondering if she, during that nine months she carried him in her belly had done something wrong, perhaps taken the wrong medication, if you haven't lived it, then you have no yardstick by which to measure it. You are however, welcome to your beliefs. All I ask is you respect mine.
But, with all the fervor stirred by the marriages on either coast I fear blood will once more flow in our streets just as it did with the growing pains of moving from racial discrimination to acceptance. I don't think these marriages are about marriage. They are about rights to insurance coverage, survivorship; the right to leave your estate to the person of your choice.
And, if you listened to the president, he left that option open, even sounded as if he welcomed, “Civil Unions” which would solve many, if not all these problems.
Some fear that the insurance companies could be overwhelmed by allowing homosexuals coverage due to H.I.V. and Aids. Then if we are to be fair and fearful, let's deny insurance coverage to smokers and their families; or anyone who contracts any blood-borne pathogen or anyone arrested for driving drunk.
President Bush wishes to amend the Constitution to “Preserve Marriage.” While I cannot support the marriages I've seen on television, I don't think an amendment is the answer either. We have a Constitution that from its inception has read “Every man was created equal.” But, we have had to amend it to among other things: Outlaw slavery, give rights to those denied because of race, and to eliminate a poll tax so our friends in Texas could be forced to let their Negro citizens vote. Usually when we amend our Constitution it's to right a wrong, not to wrong a right.
The word for the week is planate.