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Which is Worse?

March 18th, 2009 No comments

Way, way back in the supposed heyday of SNL (a “heyday” that  Jane Curtin now says was terrible), they did a great take on the smug morals enforcer of the day, Anita Bryant. Bryant, the former Miss America who led numerous crusades to roll back non-discrimination laws protecting gays and lesbians  (mostly successfully), was retrieved from obscurity recently in “Milk.” (Harvey Milk led the fight to defeat a Bryant-backed California ballot initiative that would have forbade “homsexuals” from teaching in the public  schools.) Her reappearance reminded me of this SNL exchange from the mid-to-late 70’s (not  verbatim):

Bryant (played by Curtin): “Would  you like some orange juice?”

Man: “Orange juice? No thanks, it’s not breakfast time!”

Bryant [reddening]: “It isn’t just for breakfast any more, dammit! I don’t know which I hate more, gays or people who think orange juice is just for breakfast!!”

Similarly, I don’t know which group gets me angrier: People who poured thousands of hours of time and money into the passage of Prop 8 because they (misguidedly) believed it was necessary to save civilization as we know it, or  those who voted for it even though they really didn’t care too much either way, and who also acknowledged that marrige equality was likely to come  to pass in the near future. In a series of interviews with supporters (no longer available on the web), I heard and saw several voters literally shrug when asked why they’d  voted for Prop 8. The comments were along these lines: I’m not comfortable with gay marriages. But it’s not the most important issue to me and it’s probably going to happen soon, anyway.

Excuse me?

If that’s really how people feel, they obviously haven’t stopped to consider the real and devastating effect that the denial of equality is having on millions of people every day. If this isn’t a big issue for you, please take a moment to think about the balance your vote strikes between a vague sense of “nah, I don’t think so” and the harm you’re contributing to.

At least those who spent their time and money in serious efforts to pass Prop 8 passionately believe in what they’re doing. And if all of them had the thoughtfulness of, say, a David Blankenhorn, I know which group I’d be angrier at — the casual voters. Of course, many of the “Yes on 8”  crowd complicate the equation with their sustained assault on the LGBT community.

So, which is worse? Does it matter?  Perhaps what counts is that the casual voters would seem especially susceptible to having their minds changed. In California and elsewhere, it’s vital to keep plugging away. Here’s a link to a National Equality Rally to be held on the first Sunday in May right here in my hometown of  Philadelphia (aptly, at Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell). The President of my university recently expressed his “outrage” at what’s been going on regarding the marriage issue, and we’ll need large numbers of the many millions of straight supporters like him to, er, come out in favor of this cause and for equality and justice more broadly. The Equality Rally is a good place to start.

That’s the main course. Time for dessert! I, for one, love pie: