Amanda Kovattana

Middle-aged musings in interesting times

Monday, November 08, 2004

Moral America

We can celebrate that our Democracy is alive and well in America (a little voter fraud not withstanding). The people have shown us they want a moral America. You didn't think I was going to take this lying down did you? Hee.

Once again queers have become the lightning rod to bring out the conservative vote. Eleven states have passed bans on Gay marriage. Some of those bans include civil unions and domestic partner benefits of any kind including the Power of Attorney for Health Care, which allows us the right to visit our partners in the hospital. (They really know how to hurt us). Nothing like the righteous fight against the infidels and homosexuals to get those good people out to defend the word of God and vote for George Bush.

And we thought things were different. But no, the footage of hundreds of happy Gay and Lesbian couples tying the knot at city hall outraged them. I knew it would. My partner and I had watched in disbelief when Gavin Newsom took this stand. We admired him for doing it, of course. We even considered for a moment joining them, but the line was too long and it was raining.

Gay marriage had never really been my thing. To be Gay for me is a gift of insight and creativity, revolutionary thinking and new possibilities, not an aspiration to be Ozzie and Harriet. My partner and I have stitched our domestic partner rights together with the help of a good lawyer and 67 pages of notarized documents, but this fight for Gay Marriage, I felt, would mire us in the same logjam that the abortion issue has brought us to. If this was where the Gay movement was going they didn't need us. They had plenty of assimilationists to flesh out the ranks.

News broadcasters showed ordinary, nice, sweet people wanting what anybody would want that Valentine's Day weekend. How could it be wrong to let them have the same rights as everyone else? Liberals smiled and said isn't that nice. But the Right saw Sodom and Gomorra. And God punishes Sodom and Gomorra doesn't He? That San Francisco has not burned to the ground, but instead is the city of good living, gourmet food and prized real estate must also irk the Right. None of them appear to be living there. The whole Bay Area basks in this bon vivance of San Francisco culture. It is our Paris. Thus we are the bluest city in a blue state. Aren't you proud?

The day after the election, liberals were stunned and shocked and while we mourned, the conservatives gloated. Oh how they gloat. It is the political equivalent to the word of God turning us into pillars of salt. We have no voice now they tell us. We must suck it up and go along with the rest of the country because the majority is always right however slim the margin.

Pundits are now saying that the Bay Area is out of touch with the mainstream, that the Democrats should be even more moderate so as to appeal to the "morality" of the rest of the country. As if we liberals did not have morals. We are now to accept that it is moral to bomb a country for no reason except that, well, Saddam was a bad, bad man, an evildoer. (And he was about to sell oil for Euros not American dollars. Think what that would do to our currency.) And some of the people living there are just so badly behaved, we're going to have to hunt them down too. Lucky for Kerry that he won't be going there. No one could possibly clean up that mess and come out looking good.

We are now to accept that to plunder the environment is part of being moral, that blowing off the top of mountains to get at the coal inside is okay. That allowing whales to bleed from their ears and be driven to beach themselves with pain, when navy submarines practice their sonar use, is all a part of our moral need to defend ourselves.

We are now to accept that it is moral to drive the 8 heaviest cars that get the worse gas mileage and get a $25,000 tax write-off for doing so. Never mind that we won't be leaving any oil for our children. Global oil production will peak. This is not a piece of liberal propaganda. It peaked for the United States in the 70's. It peaked for Britain in '99. You would think that the moral thing to do would be to use the remaining oil to build the infrastructure for the new source of energy - wind, solar, etc. Okay nukes if you must.

We must also continue to accept that it is moral to make sure all our CEO's continue to get their profit margins by keeping the price of drugs high, the cost of labor low and for God's sake keep lowering taxes if we must have them at all. As for the consumer it is our moral right to be able to buy goods for cheap. Cheap because of sweat shop labor; cheap because some poor government is selling off their natural resources to pay off World Bank debts; cheap because transportation costs are next to nothing compared to the high cost of giving jobs to Americans. It is moral isn't it to give the consumer what they are trained to want, thus turning the gifts of the earth into ever more useless, not-made-to-last gadgetry and toys that then become toxic, undisposable trash. And we're not quite sure if it's moral to sell kids on these goodies in schools, but how else are we going to fund their education?

And did I mention the moral right of advertisers? There are so few places left to run advertisements these days, that companies are turning to "ambient media", taking up public discourse with human agents trained to talk about the company product - taxi drivers, attractive women in bars and dogs wearing logo bedecked hats. Even children are put to use in schools as "secret agents" whose job it is to contact their list of friends and persuade them that some new game is hot. Kids, you know, they should be taught to believe in something.

There won't be anything left for our kids anyway because it is our moral right to uphold our lifestyle, though it means the destruction of wildlife habitat, toxic pollution and the over harvesting of natural resources. By the best estimates from scientists (those morally soulless Darwin people) one quarter of all mammals will be extinct in 30 years. I'm talking lions and tigers and bears, oh my! Lions and tigers and bears, all gone! (Has a nice protest march beat to it don't you think?) Ninety percent of the big fish in the ocean are already gone. Don't believe me? Go ahead, Google on the word extinction.

All right, already. Is she going to stop? Enough with the tree hugger rant.

The day after the election felt like déja vu. Felt like the re-election of Reagan. (For those who think that four more years of anyone can't really do much harm, look to Reagan. Among many things, Reagan dismantled our fair media regulations, gave us a news media that won't bring you more than one point of view because they don't have to; they just pretend it's "fair and balanced").

Before Reagan's second term I became an American citizen because I had come to believe that I needed a voice in the country I had chosen to live in. But it clearly wasn't enough to just vote. When he lost I realized, I had to be a voice in my community, let people know that I, an eco-feminist, lesbian, peace activist was in their midst. (This was the label I attached to my name badge when I went to my 10th high school reunion.)

This week it may have felt like déja vu, but only for a few hours. Things have changed since then. The day after the election, liberals were devastated in a way that illustrated our collective dismay at what half the country said they cared about. Colleagues expressed to me their solidarity, forwarded articles with the words "Gay friends" in them. That was not the climate of twenty years ago when straight people hardly wanted to talk about my being Gay, let alone my being their "Gay friend".

And when I went over to see my mother (who for most of the 80's tried to talk me out of being Gay and to take up tennis) no sooner had I slumped in her living room chair than she began to joke about Right Wingers and their thing with Gays. She even threw in a bit about a tennis club pal making a statement about how Chinese people shouldn't drive because they can't see through the narrow slits they have for eyes. "You can't be serious," she had said very loudly. She did not hear these things before with such disbelief, did not want to put her foot down. Now she was proud to tell me that she did. My mother the radical.

Even Christians have made a point to tell me that their church supported Gay marriage. A Christian client once told me, over a peanut butter and jelly sandwich she had just made me, that Christians owed Gay people an apology and that in no way was it a Christian act to persecute people as the Religious Right had done. Like I said things are different, now.

We have come a long way in a short time. We lost by a nose (if indeed Diebold didn't fix it in Ohio with his new paperless voting machines). Bush wants us to be united behind him, of course, so his party can continue without our protests, but being silent in order to be a united country is not going to help us. As a British newspaper headline said "How can so many millions be so dumb?" And now we're supposed to join those millions? I don't think so.

After a day of mourning, I took my Kerry bumper sticker off my car. This weekend at the Green Festival I bought a new one. "God wants more spiritual fruits, not religious nuts."


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