Love and cake

On Tuesday voters in Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and California approved propositions that discriminate against couples of the same sex. I am depressed beyond words by this. Those propositions are against love.

Me, I am in favour of love.

I have a friend who’s been with the same guy for twenty years now. Their lives have been entwined since they met in their twenties. They have a dog together, a house, bank accounts. In every way that counts they are a couple. Very few of my straight friends1 have been together for so long and with so much love. None of my straight friends have ever been beaten up for walking down the street hand-in-hand with the person they love.

I can hold my husband’s hand or kiss his cheek in public without fear. Because I’m a woman and Scott’s a man we were able to have our love sanctioned by the state. There are very few places in the world where same-sex couples enjoy the same privileges we take for granted.

The majority of the voters on those propositions agreed that only some people are allowed to have their love sanctioned. They agreed that only some lovers can visit their partner in hospital without question, can be covered by their partner’s health insurance, can adopt together, can migrate to their lover’s country.

That so many voters are still against equality depresses me. That in California some are blaming the passing of Proposition 8 on black voters depresses me. Let’s not go down that path. Let’s look instead at the youth demographic which cuts across race and class and religious affiliation:

    CNN exit poll

    Vote by Age Yes No
    18-29 (20%) 39 61
    30-44 (28%) 55 45
    45-64 (36%) 54 46
    65+ (15%) 61 39

What do those stats prove? That the future looks wonderful. The majority of young people under 30 get that straight marriages are not safer or happier because gay and lesbians are prohibited from marrying. They understand that the opposite is true. Which is another reason it’s such a pleasure to write books for them.

It saddens me that I have something wonderful that many of my friends are not allowed to have. I want to give them a piece of this cake too.

I want people to be allowed to marry if they want. And not to if they don’t want.

I want everyone to be included in all the cool things that life has to offer.

  1. Of my generation. My parents have been together for more than forty years. []


  1. Julia Rios on #

    I want that, too. I grew up in California (now live in Massachusetts), and I am very sad that my home state voted for a proposition to make same sex marriages illegal. I’m not surprised, though. I grew up in Riverside county, which went for Prop 8, and I know some of the people who cast yes votes. I know they did it because they think it was the morally correct thing to do, and not because they are all evil bastards, but it still breaks my heart.

    The age statistics are a very good sign, though. I was talking to a friend who has lived in Memphis, Tennessee all her life (roughly 30 years), and she said that she hadn’t realized that interracial marriage had ever been illegal until she read something about Loving Vs. Virginia the other day. She said learning that something she’d always taken for granted had only been legal for 40 years gave her hope that she’d see kids in her lifetime who felt the same way about same sex marriage. I hope she’s right, because that would be an awesome thing to see.

  2. Lauren on #

    The future is, indeed, bright, even if the present is a bit muddled.

  3. Hillary! on #

    It makes me sad too. I asked my friend why she voted yes, and she said because it’s it’s disgusting, and I told her “love, no matter what form it comes in, is not disgusting.”

  4. Kelly McCullough on #

    Exactly right. Thank you, Justine.

  5. Chris S. on #

    Exactly! It’s not as if the world is so overfull of love that we can afford to waste any.

  6. sylvia_rachel on #

    Very well said. And those numbers are indeed very encouraging — except that because the birthrate is now so low, it’s going to take longer than might appear to tip the balance. But surely some of those younger people will eventually also persuade their parents 🙂

    If we believe in marriage as a valuable social institution, conducive to stability and so on, then it only makes sense that more people wanting to get married is a good thing. No?

  7. sylvia_rachel on #

    This is not to say, btw, that people shouldn’t also be free to not get married, if that’s what they want. Just that access to the social institution of marriage, and the privileges and responsibilities it entails, should not be restricted to couples who happen to possess heterogeneous sets of reproductive parts.

  8. Dawn on #

    I don’t have any problem with same-sex couples having some kind of joining. If they’re legally together, perhaps in a partnership, then that’s fine. I believe they deserve the same rights as straight married people. They should be able to visit each other in the hospital. They shouldn’t face discrimination. However, as a member of my faith, if that proposition was not passed, people could have sued my church for not allowing same-sex couples to be married there. That’s infringing on my religious beliefs, and that’s crossing a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Or teaching about same-sex marriages in school. I think that should be a parent’s responsibility, not the school’s. They don’t teach about marriage in school, they teach about how your body grows and changes. Why is it all the sudden necessary to teach about same-sex marriage in schools? I have friends who are homosexual. I love them and enjoy spending time with them, even though I don’t exactly agree with their lifestyle. I think they should have rights, but I don’t think they should infringe on mine.

  9. Alexander on #


    Thanks for your positive post – you sound like a lot of religious friends I have (I’m gay). There’s one in particular I’m thinking of, he’s a Mormon, and we chat, hang out and play games together. He believes I’m going to end up burning in hell, and I believe he’s a bit daft for thinking that, but we still get on just fine regardless. It’s not like we’re going to change each others’ minds, so we find the things that we have in common and go from there – it seems to be, to both of us, what Jesus would do.

    The trouble is, and I can’t say this any other way, someone has lied to you about Proposition 8, and what its effects would be.

    For example, before Prop. 8, nobody in California was able to sue your church to get married there. It was not against the law for a church to refuse to bless a marriage. Technically, legally, that’s all that religious institutions are allowed to do: bless a marriage. All marriages in the United States are a legal contract between two individuals and the state. Churches (and mosques, and synagogues, and temples, and ships’ captains) are allowed to act on the state’s behalf in this regard.

    I don’t understand why these lies were spread. I don’t understand how any church that reads the gospels can justify spreading lies, EVER. But that’s what’s happened. It’s like the political operatives who distribute lying pamphlets that try to get voters from the other party to turn up on the wrong day – they clearly don’t get the fundamental idea of democracy.

    In time, it will change, I’m confident of that. So, while I’m very sad that Prop. 8 (if it was even legal) was passed, I’m even more distressed that so many young people have been lied to by the people they should most trust – their church elders. Lying never turns out well. If you take the time to go do some independent reading about Proposition 8, for example, how are you going to feel about the people who lied to you? What other lies have they told? What a terrible thing to do – and what a great way to undermine a young person’s faith. Shame on them.

  10. V on #

    Good on you for raising awareness about this, Justine. I totally agree with you—one of my best friends was kicked out of a restaurant the other day because she was being “too intimate” (hugging) her partner. This discrimination is disgusting and needs to be changed. We have a school group that’s working to stamp out homophobia in our school, but you’d be surprised how many kids rip down our posters, let alone the principal!

  11. Sarah on #

    Hi Dawn (fellow Justine fan!),

    Obviously I don’t know anything about your faith or your church beyond what you’ve told us in your comment, and I wouldn’t pass judgment on those things even if I did. Faith is a very personal, very precious thing. And besides, in my opinion, religion really ought to be irrelevant to this argument. This is a debate about love and a debate about the law. No one wants to infringe on your religious beliefs, just as I’m sure you wouldn’t want to infringe on mine or anyone else’s, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have a debate about love and the law, right? I hope you agree!

    So if you don’t mind, I would like to respond in a general way to the points you made about Prop 8.

    Is it *really* true that people could have sued your church if Prop8 hadn’t been passed? Perhaps someone with better knowledge of US and CA law can respond in detail to that but it sounds very, very unlikely to me.

    But let’s suppose just for argument’s sake that it is true…

    The fact is that it was legal for same-sex partners to marry in California for much of this year – did anyone come to your church and ask to be married there? Did anyone sue you? I doubt it. Why? Because people – gay or straight – do not get married just to make a political point. People do not get married to make other people unhappy or angry.

    People who get married – gay or straight – get married because they love each other and want to commit to each other for life. They want their love to be legitimised and recognised by their government and by their family and friends. And, best of all, they want their wedding day to be beautiful and happy and memorable for all the right reasons.

    I don’t know about you, but there’s no way I would want to hold my wedding in a place where I wasn’t welcome or where I might make others feel sad or uncomfortable. That would be terrible for me and my husband and for everyone else involved!

    That’s why no gay couples came and stirred up trouble at your church this year. That’s why even if it were somehow possible for your church to be sued over this, no one would go through with the legal proceedings.

    How can I be so sure? Because apart from the matter of that very important legal document, marriages are just like a person’s faith – deeply private and very, very precious to those involved. A marriage is not about infringing on you or me or anyone else because a marriage is essentially about two people and two people only – the couple being legally wed.

    Gay or straight, it makes no difference – a marriage is not a weapon, it is a gift.

    Thanks for hearing me out, Dawn.

    Sarah (a fellow Justine fan!)

  12. jodi on #

    i live in cali.
    i am 32 and interacial, like Obama. when my parents got married/dated it was actually still illegal in several states.
    on election day i was standing in a very long line waiting to vote behind two african american women who were estatic about voting for obama. in front of them were two gay men worried about prop 8. a respectful but vehement discussion ensued about gay marriage which the women were firmly against. i didn’t join in, just listened to the unbelievable irony.

    i find it bewildering that we can step forward and backwards like this simultaneously.
    it’s a civil rights issue. period.
    it really breaks my heart.
    thanks for bringing it up here.

  13. Dawn on #

    Thanks to all of you who responded to my comment. I really hope that I didn’t offend anyone, and it was interesting to read your replies and the information you supplied. Alexander, I’m sorry that your friend believes that you’re going to hell, that’s not something I personally believe. (And as a sidenote, I’m really glad that we could discuss this matter in a civil manner! Some people on two different sides of a view get so hostile. And it’s like John Green says (and this is a paraphrase): “People who disagree with you are not evil. They don’t want to destroy America, they just come from different moral backgrounds and different perspectives” I so agree!)

  14. Tim on #

    Justine your response to this situation is quite inspiring. You have discussed it so eloquently and in a way that a lot of people, on both sides of the divide, do not.

    I think it’s simultaneously encouraging and disheartening that Prop 8 passed by only 4%. It shows how far California has come in a few years – but at the same time it shows society hasn’t come far enough.

    I myself am a Catholic and I think that even if one is to believe that same-sex marriage is wrong on a religious level one has to acknowledge that marriage has gone beyond the realms of the religious. Marriage provides certain legal and social rights that are not protected by civil unions and therefore must be available to all.

    One of the saddest parts of this whole debacle was the negative, hate-filled and lie-filled campaigns which I’m sure played no small part in convincing people to vote Yes on 8.

    To Dawn, it is unfortunate that the lies stated by the Yes on 8 campaign managed to convince you to vote Yes (or convinced you that you should have voted Yes, if you didn’t vote). Churches could not have been sued for refusing to marry homosexual couples – first and foremost this is a violation of the right to freely practice religion which is protected by the US Constitution. Religious institutions (churches, mosques, synagogues, etc.) have the right to refuse marriage to people if they do not fulfil the criteria of the religion, as has been exemplified by the Catholic Church. While it is legal in the US for divorced people to be remarried, the Catholic Church still retains the right to refuse marriage to one who is divorced, because they do not fulfil the criteria for marriage as outlined by the Church. This has been the case for, like, ever. In the same way, any Church which does not wish to would not be forced to marry same-sex couples. Also if same-sex marriage was allowed, teachers would not be forced to discuss homosexual relationships to any greater degree than they would be forced to talk about heterosexual relationships. Parents still retain the right to teach their children their own views on marriage. Unfortunately both of the above are examples of the shameless lies that no doubt convinced many people to vote Yes on 8.

  15. Tim on #

    Looks like Dawn replied before I’d finished typing, lol.

    But it’s okay, I don’t think you offend anyone – it’s perfectly understandable that you want to protect your right to freely practice religion. I can empathise with you more than you could imagine. I think the thing is more that if Prop 8 failed, nobody would have actually been able to infringe upon your rights.

    From what I gather, we are all just disappointed that the Yes on 8 people managed to convince so many people that they would have had their rights to practice their faith and raise their children challenged, when this was not the case.

  16. cbjames on #

    I suppose it is nice that everyone can be so civil about disagreeing with each other. Dawn seems like a nice enough person. She just wants to pass a law that will dismantle my marriage. That doesn’t make her bad, you say. She just holds views that disagree with mine. Except I never tried to make her marriage illegal.

    I’m trying to be nice about it, but I’m really really angry.

  17. Justine on #

    cbjames: Ain’t nothing wrong with anger. Prop 8 didn’t do anything to my marriage and I’m FURIOUS that it passed. I can’t begin to imagine how you must be feeling.

    Not that it helps you right now, but longterm I’m convinced that the people who want to ban same-sex marriage are on a hiding to nothing. We will win.

    In the meantime, directing our anger at people who might one day change their mind isn’t going to help. We might not persuade Dawn that there’s nothing wrong or threatening about same-sex marriage, but I’m hoping to convince other people who read this blog.

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