Thursday, November 13, 2008

For the Love of God, Please!!

My fellow religiously-inclined inhabitants of the United State of America, I have a request. Would you please help us all by not using religion as an excuse for promoting or condoning discriminatory, separate-but-equal laws? Is that too much to ask? From where I stand, it certainly doesn't seem like an unreasonable request.

I've wanted to write about the Proposition 8 vote for several days now. It made me really pissed off that people were put in a position were they felt forced to prove that they deserve to have the same rights as everyone else.

As a person in an inter-racial relationship (and as someone who can not marry thanks to insane legal roadblocks for people with disabilities), Prop. 8 really angers me. It's no different from the laws that forbade people in relationships a lot like mine from marrying. Folks had all sorts of excuses for wanting to prevent whites and blacks from marrying. As with Prop. 8, many people used their religion as the basis for their discrimination in the exact same way. Do you think I'm making this up?

"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"
Does that sound familiar to anyone? Given how short our collective memory seems to be in this country, I'm figuring that most people won't recognize that quote. Well, it came from Judge Leon Bazile's decision in the landmark Loving v. Commonwealth of Virgina case. It wasn't until 1967 that the Supreme Court recognized that the prohibition of Richard and Mildred Loving's interracial marriage was a violation of their rights. 1967! It wasn't until 2000--that's eight years ago--that the state of Alabama decided to abolish its prohibition against inter-racial marriages, but look at things now.

Now we have the same people pointing their crooked little fingers in disapproval and shock that someone should actually want to marry the person they love. What a surprise, right? If you go to any one of these mega-churches and temples, you are sure to see inter-racial couples. Down here in Louisiana, the ones I've visited have lots of families like mine and I've heard preachers talk about how proud they are that their place of worship is so "color-blind" because we are all children of God.

A few years ago, these organizations were using the same religion-based excuses to justify prohibiting consenting adult couples in love from getting married. It didn't work then. All it did was make inter-racial couples fight even harder and, eventually, even the religiously-inclined came to see the light. Hating people rarely makes them cower and give in. Loving will eventually win out. On the 40th anniversary of the Loving v. Virginia court case, the late Mildred Loving explained it better than anyone else I've heard. In part, it reads:

My generation was bitterly divided over something that should have been so clear and right. The majority believed that what the judge said, that it was God's plan to keep people apart, and that government should discriminate against people in love. But I have lived long enough now to see big changes. The older generation's fears and prejudices have given way, and today's young people realize that if someone loves someone they have a right to marry.

Surrounded as I am now by wonderful children and grandchildren, not a day goes by that I don't think of Richard and our love, our right to marry, and how much it meant to me to have that freedom to marry the person precious to me, even if others thought he was the "wrong kind of person" for me to marry. I believe all Americans, no matter their race, no matter their sex, no matter their sexual orientation, should have that same freedom to marry. Government has no business imposing some people’s religious beliefs over others. Especially if it denies people’s civil rights.

I am still not a political person, but I am proud that Richard's and my name is on a court case that can help reinforce the love, the commitment, the fairness, and the family that so many people, black or white, young or old, gay or straight seek in life. I support the freedom to marry for all. That's what Loving, and loving, are all about.
-Loving For All


dmarks said...

"and as someone who can not marry thanks to insane legal roadblocks for people with disabilities"

I'm curious what law restricts this. I've been long aware of the restrictions against interracial and gay marriage. But not this. Shocking.

bint alshamsa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bint alshamsa said...

It starts with the fact that current laws allow insurance companies to refuse to cover treatment for pre-existing conditions. So, though my partner (The German) has health-care through his employer, if we were to marry I'd be able to join his plan but it wouldn't pay for my cancer and lupus treatments (e.g. doctor's visits, procedures).

As long as I am single, then I am qualified for state and federal health care programs. What one doesn't pay for, the other usually covers. However, if we were to marry, his income level would then be considered our household income level and this amount would be greater than the allowable limits for eligibility for Medicaid.

In order to be eligible, the resources for a family of three, where one or more members are disabled, can equal no more than $36,000 dollars a year. That breaks down to $3,000 a month. Now, $3,000 a month might sound like a lot to some people. However, the state has decided that, on top of rent, utilities, gas, insurance, and food for three people, this $3,000 monthly is enough to pay for whatever treatment a person might need no matter how disabled they are and what sort of treatment they require to keep living.

My partner's employers pay him enough for us to combine resources and live in an apartment, pay for our utility bills and provide for our daughter. However, they don't pay him enough to be able to cover the costs of those medical expenses that I'd have if I was no longer eligible for the program.

As a result, I'm basically stuck in limbo. We need The German to keep working so that we can pay our bills. We have a child that needs clothes and food and a place to live, so we can't afford to have him quit his job just to get our income below the $3,000 threshold. Quitting his job would also deprive him of his health insurance, which he needs because he has his own health conditions.

For years, we've tried to find a way to make it happen but it's been clear to us for quite a while that the state doesn't really want disabled people like me to be able to thrive in society. It would be easier just to warehouse me, keeping me out of sight, than it would be to make it possible for me to enjoy all of the benefits of marriage.

dmarks said...

What a mess. I know full well about elegibility restrictions and how it can mess up other parts of life. Thanks for letting me know of a permutation of this that I was not aware of.