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Undecided: What is Marriage Anyway?

Posted by the prisoner's wife On 9:01 PM

i am sure of who i am voting for for president. i am pretty sure of how i will vote on farm animals, and non-violent drug crimes. but i am not at all sure of how i will vote on California's proposition to ban gay marriage.

i am the granddaughter of a Southern Baptist minister. i spent my ENTIRE life in church, sunday school, revivals, and the like. to me, the Bible is sacred and i believe deeply in God, but i am not sure how i feel about amending our state's constitution to ban gay marriage.

perhaps it's because i haven't resolved my feelings about homosexuality. while i don't feel it's necessarily "wrong", i do feel some kind of way (i know that saying sucks) about homosexual couples & marriage. part of me wonders why i even care what two adults want to do with their life, and in all honesty i don't. but another part of me sort of twitches when i think of the institution of marriage and homosexuality in conjunction with my Christian upbringing. my mother, my grandmother, and my church are firmly against allowing gay marriage. i am wavering. but then again, i have wavered a bit from the teachings of my church. while i do believe in Jesus and the trinity, i also believe that the big three, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, are all talking about the same God. but i digress...i am not the only one struggling with this issue. Black churches all over Los Angeles are debating this issue.

Fred Price, the pastor of one of LA's first Mega-Churches, commented that, "Marriage is between a man and a woman," and urged his audience to "stand with God in saying the definition of marriage must not change."

A few miles away at Lucy Florence Cultural Center in Leimert Park, a much smaller group of ministers -- three, as it turned out -- spoke against the measure. Among their arguments: that African Americans, given their history of discrimination, should not be taking away rights.

while i haven't resolved my feelings toward comparing the struggle for gay rights to that of the civil rights movement, i am clear that any type of discrimination, be it on the basis of race, class, gender, or sexuality, threatens us all. i have always considered myself a progressive person, but yet, i am struggling with this issue. why? in the essay, "Homophobia in Black Communities," bell hooks explores the inner struggle of (some) black folks when trying to think critically about homosexuality. she writes,

Black communities may be perceived as more homophobic than other communities because there is a tendency for individuals in black communities to verbally express in an outspoken way anti-gay sentiments. I talked with a straight black male in a California community who acknowledged that though he has often made jokes poking fun at gays or expressing contempt, as a means of bonding in groups settings, in his private life he was a central support person for a gay sister. Such contradictory behavior seems pervasive in Black communities. It speaks to ambivalence about sexuality in general, about sex as a subject of conversation, and to the ambivalent feelings and attitudes toward homosexuality. Various structures of emotional and economic dependence create gaps between attitudes and actions. Yet a distinction must be made between black people overtly expressing prejudice toward homosexuals and homophobic white people who never made homophobic comments but who have the power to actively exploit and oppress gay people in areas of housing, employment, etc.

although i agree that black people--and people in general--are, at times, ambivalent about homosexuality, i don't feel that we (black people) should be given a pass on our thoughts/feelings simply because we do not "have the power to actively exploit and oppress gay people," especially now, as we are faced with this constitutional amendment. as i think through my own ambivalence, i am struck by my ability NOT to have a clear stance on the issues. i have never thought so hard in my life about a singular ballot initiative. while i am not totally comfortable casting my vote in favor of gay marriage, i am not at all comfortable adding this amendment to our state's constitution. i am usually able to make up my mind rather quickly, but i'm struggling. it's like my religion, politics, and personal POV are all wrestling...and right now, i'm not sure which one will come out on top.

6 Response to 'Undecided: What is Marriage Anyway?'

  1. Lola Goetz Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/10/undecided-what-is-marriage-anyway.html?showComment=1224959760000#c8355534934249107652'> Saturday, October 25, 2008 11:36:00 AM

    I think I know what you mean. I was raised Pentecostal, and they are against gay marriage, too. Yet it wasn't too many years ago that interracial marriages were viewed in the same light. So who am I to say that gays can't get married? I think there are more important things for Christians to worry about.


  2. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/10/undecided-what-is-marriage-anyway.html?showComment=1224983160000#c6860164792713255011'> Saturday, October 25, 2008 6:06:00 PM

    I have mixed feelings about this.

    I too was raised in the church, but I was also raised around gay men (my mother worked for a modeling agency). On one hand, I view marriage as a sacred bond between a man and woman only...yet, I don't want to discriminate against anyone, for I understand how that feels. I'm not for gays being married "under the eyes of God," for I have strong feelings about homosexuality and religion...that's just me. However, no one should be given rights then have it taken away...the government should have thought about that before they gave homosexuals the right to marry.


  3. Ali Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/10/undecided-what-is-marriage-anyway.html?showComment=1224997440000#c5788178404407003567'> Saturday, October 25, 2008 10:04:00 PM

    If you feel like your religion doesn't allow you to vote no but you don't feel others should have rights taken away/you don't have jurisdiction in someone else's home/etc., then choose not to affirm or deny the right for gays to marry. I feel like that is a legitimate option for anyone struggling to reconcile personal beliefs with a civil issue.
    Just my two cents.


  4. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/10/undecided-what-is-marriage-anyway.html?showComment=1225043760000#c6523254545189993720'> Sunday, October 26, 2008 10:56:00 AM

    lola: i agree, there are more important things for Christians and others to worry about. but still...i'm undecided.

    Beautifully.Conjured: yeah, that's pretty much how i feel. i think i can sum up my feelings as mixed.

    ali: i feel you. i have a lot of thinking to do before Nov. 4th.


  5. Preston Said,
    http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/10/undecided-what-is-marriage-anyway.html?showComment=1226090160000#c7109589754452853214'> Friday, November 07, 2008 12:36:00 PM

    Unfortunately, California has approved proposition 8 and it is a sad day for human rights. While I am opposed to forcing a church to marry a gay couple, it is just as wrong for the church to deny a gay couple from being married elsewhere. I thought a constitution was designed to protect people's rights, not deny them.


  6. http://theprisonerswife.blogspot.com/2008/10/undecided-what-is-marriage-anyway.html?showComment=1226119980000#c6351543827774216367'> Friday, November 07, 2008 8:53:00 PM

    hey Preston,

    i ended up voting No on Prop at. at the end of the day, i wasn't comfortable amending out constitution. but clearly, others didn't agree. oh well...