A curious incident on the homestead. Amid some television news coverage of yet another street rally against the passage of Proposition 8 (a “hot button” issue, which forbade gay marriage in California), my father shared his philosophy on the topic. “I voted yes on 8. These people are sick. They were born this way. Why should they be punished for that? Why should we prevent them from getting married?”
My eyebrow rose, almost involuntarily. “A Yes vote means that gays can’t get married,” I said. “Oh!” my father rushed to correct himself, “I mean I voted no.” Of course he did. Surely he just misspoke, and didn’t actually misapply a Yes vote for a No on the ballot, right? And then I wondered how many voters on Election Day, less careful than my father, actually voted Yes when they meant No, or vice versa.
I am reminded of the hilarious Simpsons episode (Season 15, Episode 8) where Homer buffoonishly tries to assist Marge’s campaign for a particular proposition, including printing up bumper stickers that say “Yes No 242.”
This whole ordeal of an election cycle (disregarding for a moment the beauty pageant cum satyr play that was the presidential election), all the way up to the street rallies and the tragicomic words flowing from my father’s mouth, was a living picture of our glorious democracy, up to its gills in its solemn duty of obfuscating the issues and obscuring facts. Hence, the laughable (or reviled, or endearing, depending on your stance) “King and King” commercial in support of Prop 8.
It makes me wonder where all these rally-rabbits were before the election. Even in my neighborhood of Hillcrest, epicenter of gay life in San Diego, I saw only the occasional “No on 8” sign dangling from a chain-link fence, whereas pretty much any other neighborhood in town was rife with Charlie Churches and pregnant housewives pushing strollers at major intersections and spreading the gospel. How many horn-honkers did I have to endure every time I got stuck behind a traffic light?
My father’s comments were followed by my mother’s virulent proclamations that gay marriage was wrong and that she had voted against the proposition. Or was it for the proposition? Having mailed their ballots in beforehand, my mother, who had apparently delegated the task of actually filling out the ballots to my father, questioned him on whether he had marked her down for a Yes or No. Really, do we even know the difference?
My final word? I believe it was best expressed on a car window I saw whizzing by the other day: “Equality in marriage. Everyone deserves the right to be miserable.”