Archive for the 'Religion' Category

Happy Loving Day

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

Shortly after returning from their DC wedding, Mildred and Richard Loving were arrested at their home in Virginia. Their crime? He was white and she was not.

Virginia's courts found that since the Racial Integrity Act punished the two Lovings equally, it did not discriminate against any race. They also came up with justifications for the law, some of which seem bizarre by today's standards:

Almighty God created the races white, black, yellow, malay and red, and he placed them on separate continents. And but for the interference with his arrangement there would be no cause for such marriages. The fact that he separated the races shows that he did not intend for the races to mix.

The Supreme Court of the United States, in contrast, could find no rational basis for the law. Instead, they described it as "designed to maintain White Supremacy", as it only divided whites from non-whites rather than trying to protect the "integrity" of every race.

That alone might have been enough to overturn Virginia's law, but the supremes went further. They held that "equal application does not immunize the statute" from the strict scrutiny applied to laws involving race. It would take much more than a supposed rational basis to justify a state law against interracial marriage.

The Supreme Court's unanimous decision concluded beautifully:

Marriage is one of the "basic civil rights of man," fundamental to our very existence and survival.... To deny this fundamental freedom on so unsupportable a basis as the racial classifications embodied in these statutes, classifications so directly subversive of the principle of equality at the heart of the Fourteenth Amendment, is surely to deprive all the State's citizens of liberty without due process of law.

Loving v. Virginia brought the end of anti-miscegenation laws, not only in Virginia, but throughout the Southern United States.

I am struck by how recently this decision came: June 12, 1967 was only 42 years ago. That I grew up considering multiracial couples normal is a testament to the success of the previous generation's civil rights movement.

In the spirit of the court's decision, I would like to wish all couples a happy Loving Day.

I'll save the jealousy for February.

Protesting for gay marriage

Monday, November 17th, 2008

I joined yesterday's protest in San Francisco against the passage of proposition 8. I'd like to be able to say that I went only because I am outraged about counterproductive discrimination based on superstition. But the truth is I also had a selfish reason to be there: I wanted to see creative protest signs.

Attitudes toward political opponents

Many signs were angry: Fuck the H8 away, If you don't like.... One was so angry that it bordered on oxymoronical: Our diverse community does not tolerate haters.

Other signs tried to show opponents the light through compassion and empathy: All families matter, Careful whom you H8. It could be someone you love.

A few signs were simply patient and optimistic about the future: The winds of change are coming, Our love will outlive your vote.

Drawing historical parallels

Many signs drew parallels to civil rights movements of previous generations: separate is never equal, I can't believe we still have to protest this crap.

The most direct parallels involved laws against interracial marriage. One sign quoted Loving v Virginia, the supreme court case that overturned miscegenation laws: "Marriage is one of the basic civil rights of man". An especially touching sign read: I would not be here were it not for the courts legalizing interracial marriage.

One of the marching chants also evoked these parallels: "Gay, straight, black, white; marriage is a civil right!". (The parallel here isn't perfect: Loving allowed black people to marry white people, but we're not exactly fighting to allow gay people to marry straight people ;))

Attitudes toward religion

Quite a few signs were anti-religion, and anti-mormonism in particular.

But equally numerous were signs that drew on religion to argue for equality: All love is sacred, What God hath joined together, let not man put asunder, We are married by the power and in the presence of God.

Some protestors avoided bashing religion, and asked only for the separation of church and state: State/church shirt, Not your sacrament, just our civil right. If I had made a sign, I might have written: "Say what you will about 'holy matrimony', but 'marriage' belongs to all of us."

Humorous and strange signs

One man's sign read I really used to LIKE the number 8. Another sign reminded us to be careful how we use language: Discrimination is totally gay.

A few signs left me baffled: Marriage is totally gay, No queers, If the tooth fairy were gay....

Marching chants

After a few hours at civic center park, many of us marched three miles to fisherman's wharf, chanting various slogans. One frequent chant was "Separate! Church and state!" Chants were even used to direct the march: "Right on Lombard!"

Our most frequent chant revealed grammatical disagreement: "What do we want? Equal rights! When do we want ___? Now!". This was a call-and-response chant: only one person would yell the questions, while the crowd would yell the answers. Some callers yelled "it", but others yelled "them" or "'em".

The climax of the protest came as we marched through a tunnel. The sign above the tunnel entrance, "Quiet through tunnel", hinted as to what might happen once we entered. We did not obey this sign.

Tools of Satan

Wednesday, November 7th, 2007

Last night, while I was trying to fall asleep, it occurred to me that religious days of rest might seem arbitrary to people living near the International Date Line. I got up and searched Google for "international date line" sabbath, thinking I might at least come across someone else who had also wondered about the same thing. What I didn't expect to find was multiple pages arguing that the International Date Line is a tool of Satan. I also found a lengthy rebuttal. Who knew that datekeeping could be so controversial?

Could this be turned into a game? Perhaps one player picks a seemingly uncontroversial object or concept, and another player must invent a story or argument that makes it out to be either the root of all evil or mankind's salvation. For example:

PODASIP: Spoons are corrupting and should be eradicated.