As I wind up my evening in the West Coast Portland, I log in to the WCHS6 website on the East Coast Portland to follow the election results in Maine. For me it is a repeat of the mixed emotions I felt on Election Night 2008, where I was elated to see Barack Obama win but crushed to see California’s Prop 8 win as well. I felt so happy to see an end to the eight year Republican nightmare but also so saddened to see my people (hets, funded largely by the religion that baptized me) openly abrogating the rights of 18,000 married gay couples.
Tonight it’s happened again, as I am elated to see Maine’s Question 5 win, establishing a state registry card system for medical marijuana patients (like Oregon) that will protect them from arrest, expanding the list of conditions for which Mainers may qualify for medical marijuana, and providing a system of dispensaries for patients, as only four of the twelve other states do. But I am also once again crushed to see Maine’s Question 1 win. Once again, my people have voted to discriminate against my gay friends and family.
Why does medical marijuana win and gay equality lose on the same ballot? How can 60% of the voters support marijuana sales, but only 48% of the same electorate support recognizing love?
Perhaps one lesson can be learned from the marketing of medical marijuana. Advocates have had to fight hard against the iconic Cheech & Chong stigma of marijuana. What they didn’t do is appeal to the higher reasoning that shows cannabis to be a superior therapy with less side effects and yada yada yada. What they did do is tell personal stories of extremely sympathetic sick and dying people whose lives were visibly improved through use of medical marijuana.
In other words, medical marijuana was never about nebulous analytical concepts, it was about a real live fragile person who was going to be busted any minute by cops and thrown into a cell for smoking a joint to stop puking from chemotherapy, and your vote mattered; you were the person who could end this cruelty!I haven’t followed all the ad campaigns, so maybe this was done, but have these No on 1 / No on 8 campaigns been floating around in the mental framework of fairness and equality and rights over these past couple of years? Or have they gone the medical marijuana route with emotional gut punches of a real live person about to suffer a horrible consequence from which only you, the voter, can rescue them?
Marriage equality, as a campaign, needs what my talk radio producer cynically called the “Why Do I Give a Shit” angle. Why does the average married religious conservative het voter need to vote for marriage equality? Because it’s fair? Life ain’t fair. Because it’s a right? Never has been before. What’s in it for them? Or, what bad thing is in it for them if they don’t support it?
I don’t have the answers, but I love asking the questions.
Still, I can’t get my mind around the notion of more than half of the people buying the “one man one woman” line and consciously deciding that one certain group of people should be discriminated against. I believe in the 25% Rule (I think it was a Trey Parker notion) that 1/4th of the people are complete idiots (as evidenced by W. Bush’s final approval ratings). So at least half the people voting for Q1 really do hate teh gay, but I figure the other half, if asked, probably like gay people just fine and if asked to support a law that gave gay people every single federal and state right of marriage so long as it were called “blumpkins”, they’d do it.
I really do think the hang up for many het people is just that frickin’ word, “marriage”. You and I know gay marriage doesn’t hurt het marriage in any way, shape, or form. But what it does do is change a married het couple’s perception of their relationship to that word, “marriage”. There is a “Why Do I Give a Shit” angle here. Currently, as a married het man, being married means I am like other married het men. We share sterotypical stories of wives who nag, mother-in-law jokes, and hidden stashes of porn.
But if gay marriage comes to pass, who I am as a married man is now like the old familiar straight married guys I identify with plus a new set of gay married guys whose roles and identities are different than mine. Absent any compelling need to change, I’m going to vote to keep things familiar.
(Now you and I know that there is far more in common than not, and we both know the old married gay couples who are as stereotypical as old married straight couples. And my gay friend’s tales of a husband who nags, his mother-in-law, and hidden stashes of porn sound just like mine save for gender pronouns. I’m just trying to think like a Yes on Q1 voter for devil’s advocacy sake.)
Again, I don’t have the answers, and I’ve written before how I dislike the “civil unions” false compromise that declares gay love “separate but equal”. But maybe that is the only logical possible democratic progression toward full marriage equality. After all, I fully believe all adults should be free to use cannabis, and that medical marijuana, while a godsend to the sick and disabled, is a compromise that declares me a criminal for being too healthy. However, after thirteen years and thirteen states of compromise success, we’re openly talking now about full legalization in two states. After a generation has grown up in California with some people getting partial access to cannabis, 56% of them are now in support of all people getting full access. After thirteen years of dispensaries in California and the sky not falling, a majority now favors taxing and regulating it commercially. Maybe with thirteen states over thirteen years passing civil unions, and the sky not falling, support would build to replace them with full marriage equality.
Eh, just thinking out loud here. I just can’t figure out how 12% of the voters would be compassionate enough to help a granny with glaucoma get some OG Kush, but also think gay people shouldn’t be married.