Friday, October 10, 2008

Gay Men to Protect Marriage

The following letter was written sent to the Los Angeles GLBT Community Center by a friend. He and his partner are gay. Along with their parents and extended family, they will vote Yes on Proposition 8.

Here's why.


We are two men in our mid-40s living in Los Angeles County. We have been in a committed relationship since October of 1996. We have no plans to get married and we believe our domestic partnership papers are sufficient to protect our rights. The recent ballot measure about gay marriage has prompted this letter from two-otherwise reasonable people in our community.

Growing up as a boy, I (John) was raised in small rural, San Joaquin Valley town just south of Stockton, CA. I am the oldest of four boys; I was raised on a dairy farm and attended the same schools that my mother and father attended. We had many of the same teachers. My mother and father have been married for 47 years.

My three brothers and I were raised in a “born again” Christian home, just like my nine aunts and uncles, by my grandparents who lived down the dirt road. In 1984, I left home and joined the LAPD. Now retired after 23 years of service, I still live in Los Angeles County. A lot has changed since I left home.

In June, 1991, I came out of the closet publicly, on CNN, after (the Rodney King arrest). To say this public announcement caused my family hardship is an understatement. I did not talk with my father for over 3 years and during one argument we were on the verge of physical violence and nearly went to blows.

Thank God we worked things out.

Today and since 1996, my parents gladly welcome my domestic partner Robert into their home. We have slept together in my parents’ home, they sat next to him at my retirement party in June, and my father has encouraged us to adopt children. I have nothing but respect and love for my mother and father.

My three younger brothers all got married and had kids.

I am the only gay child.

When my brother lost his wife to a massive stroke in 2007, I was the first person they called for help - John the cop – the gay brother from LA.

When another brother lost his wife after a long illness this year, I was the first person called for help during the crises. My deceased sister-in-law and brother are loyal born-again Christians, yet my partner and I have been welcomed into their home. I felt it an utter privilege to speak publicly at my sister-in-law's funeral and publicly applaud her loving personality.

Before my presentation, my mom made a simple request of me: “Please don’t mention Robert as your domestic partner – it will offend a lot of people in the church.”

I warmly smiled, hugged my mom, and said, “Sure thing Mom, no problem.”

I was glad she made this request because my desire to honor my loving sister-in-law was more important than some shitty “politically correct” gay term.

By now, I am certain militant people in the GLBT community are screaming and yelling at the notion I would give in to such a request. People like this in our community just don’t get the meaning of the word tolerance.

My partner, Robert, was raised in a Catholic home. His large family from Mexico remains strongly tied to their Catholic upbringing. Robert’s mother would attend mass two and three times a day if she could drive to the church.

She never learned how to drive.

While our relationship has never been openly discussed, his family has NEVER-EVER acted in an unkind way towards me. Most of the time they take steps - overt steps to include me into their family’s activities. Yes, they know we sleep together, but our relationship is a non-issue with them.

Now that Prop 8 has come up, various people in our circle of family and friends have been asking lots of questions to us about the ads they see on TV. One topic that has come up multiple times in my conversations is the image of the ultra anti-Catholic Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, whose mockery of Christianity is legend in not only the gay community but mainstream society.

Above, two “Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence” in their Catholic-mocking garb and make-up are photographed attending a mass offered by San Francisco Archbishiop George Niederauer, in the Most Holy Redeemer Catholic Church.

As a gay man, I am well aware of their community activism and their fundraising. However, these good deeds are over shadowed by their continuous goading tactics of the religious community. It’s kind of like when a cop gets caught beating the crap out a suspect – nobody ever cares that he was a Medal of Valor winner.
The Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence have long made a practice of mocking the Catholic Church in general and religious women (nuns) in particular.

I find this type of action deeply offensive and disrespectful. Can someone from my own damn community explain how I can “justify” this type of behavior to my family, friends, or my partner’s Catholic family? While many in San Francisco and West Hollywood (and certainly the Sisters themselves) finds this amusing, my family, my partner’s family, and others do not.

My family lives only 50 miles from San Francisco. What if these assholes showed up at my parents’ church? What if these dirt bags showed up at Robert’s Mom’s church and sat next to his mother dressed like this? I can tell you what would happen – the gay community would have two very pissed off gay men just looking for a way to strike back!

So, our position on Prop 8 now is as follows: We encourage our family and friends around us to “vote their hearts, values, and religious beliefs.” Whatever they choose we will respect and honor their choice. As for us, we intend to Vote YES on Prop 8 because we dislike the bastards who misjudged us and our values as members of the GLBT community.

Both our families will also Vote YES on 8. People who engage in tactics like these do not reflect or values, beliefs, or speak for us. In fact, these activists do not represent the over 109,000 gay couples, raising approximately 50,000 kids, living out in “mainstream society” in California.

People like us.

Our country was founded on “religious freedom” and it has been written into our national and state constitutions. The pilgrims came to this country searching for religious freedom. Religion is rooted deeply into our national heritage and for anyone to think we are going to change this - well, it’s crazy for the GLBT community in California to believe that we are going to change these institutions without a fight, or by winning a few court battles.

The backlash we face is significant, but the activists never thought about this.

Churches have a RIGHT to worship in peace as they choose. NOBODY has a right to disrupt, intimidate, protest, or disrespect these services, no matter what their agenda is.
While I may not agree with many of the Church’s doctrines and teachings, out of respect and tolerance I remain humble, quiet, and respectful during the proceedings.

I take great offense to anyone in MY community who demands the “right” to get married, yet thinks nothing of trampling the rights of others to worship in peace as they choose and believe.

Proposition 8 has forced us and others like us to make a choice: A choice between “going with the flow” and voting as gay men OR protecting our families values, their right to worship in peace, and their right to their religious institutions (like marriage).

We have news for many in our community: When our community condones, supports, or tacitly approves of such baiting tactics, then you can bet we will cross lines. We will protect our families and all the beliefs they hold dear regardless of what mainstream West Hollywood or San Francisco will be doing.

Prior to this ballot measure, we were really indifferent to the whole matter. However, as voters and as a gay couple it has now gotten personal. We are now being asked to make a choice between our families and our community.

We have news for all those angry-bitter people in our community; we choose to protect our family from the gay activists who threaten our families’ beliefs and religious institutions. This is a no-brainer.

While the Sisters are the most visible example, they are NOT the only examples in our community who engage in religious baiting tactics.

Come November 5th, 2008, it is time our leaders in the GLBT community (like you) come together, rethink these practices, and address this matter. Not only is this counterproductive, it is certainly not a good example of tolerance – the same tolerance we as a community demand. Over the years, I have found these actions offensive and it was for these reasons I avoided events where “the Sisters” appeared.

We do NOT make donations to this community organization.

GLBT community groups who engaged in this type of provocative action should be publically denounced by senior members of our community, GLBT churches, and the more mature members of the GLBT community. The improper actions of a few are not a good representation of the community as a whole. Yet, the actions of a few will probably lead to the ban on gay marriage in the State of California because they have consistently cross the lines of good taste and respect which has angered the well-funded and well-organized religious communities across the USA.

They have certainly alienated more responsible members of their own community, and caused us to cross the lines and vote YES on Prop 8.

Sincerely,

John & Robert
Southern California

Tagometer