By Sherry Eilson
By now the election is over and we have the results of whether or not Proposition 8 passed or failed. Regardless of the outcome, however, I am amazed at how much passionate attention this proposition received.
It dominated the roadsides and street corners of our fair town with a plethora of both supporters and opponents. In fact, it dominated the election—at least in Ramona—overshadowing the other overwhelmingly important economic, political, and social issues on the ballot.
I suppose I should not have been so surprised that the issue of marriage would have carried so much weight in our citizens’ hearts and minds. After all, marriage has always been used as a means of control.
Way back, before women had rights, before they could vote, or own property, or enter into a contract, or even have a say in their own destiny, they were controlled by their fathers first and then by their husbands. Through marriage, the male right to govern and direct the clueless and helpless female passed from the father to the husband. Thus, the American way of life was assured, way back when, as long as the wife voluntarily consented to be represented by her husband through the institution of marriage.
African slaves, however, were denied legal marriage. Regardless of their sexual or religious orientation, slaves were not citizens, and marriage was reserved only for citizens during that phase of American history. Thus, slaves were encouraged, yes, even required to procreate, yet they were denied the official sanctity of marriage.
And what about Native Americans? Apparently their views of marriage were so out of sync with the American way that the U.S. government undertook efforts to reform their marriage beliefs and practices so that they might be appropriately civilized.
Also, lest we forget, it wasn’t too long ago that interracial couples were prohibited from marrying. Prior to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1967 ruling, many states had laws barring whites from marrying non-whites.
Regardless of this shameful history, however, again we have been involved in judging an entire group of Americans, deciding whether or not they should be allowed to marry. Have we learned nothing from history? Are individual freedoms and civil rights just words or do they really mean something? Do we, as Americans, truly espouse freedom and equality or are these just sanctimonious words to spout off in the fight against terrorism?
In my opinion, we all need to do some soul searching.
Sherry Wilson is a Ramona resident.