Friday, October 10, 2008

Talking politics...

For the first time in my life, I am getting involved in politics. Probably because the political scene in California has crossed into my religious identity. I'm referring, of course, to Proposition 8 on the Nov.4 ballot in California (if you don't know about prop 8, click here to learn why Californians want to Vote YES on 8).

Now, let me preface this by saying that I'm in NO way a political mastermind. I didn't even like US History in high school or American Heritage in college, so I'm leaving the heavy political talk to the politically minded. I've just been thinking about some interesting experiences I've had on this political trail.

First, there's the "intolerance" claim. When I decided to vote Yes on 8, it was very clear to me that this measure does nothing to take away rights of gay couples. They will have just as much respect as they do now. But for some reason, just my saying that I support this has made people hang up on me, call me an awful person, and be plain rude. So... just because I want the gay community to keep all the rights they have, people have become intolerant of my desire to say so... seems odd to me.

On one canvassing afternoon, I had a long and very interesting conversation about this proposition with somebody who heartily disagreed with my vote. I was impressed, however, at how respectful and kind he was and how willing he was to actually talk about the ideas and ramifications of the proposition instead of simply making stinging personal remarks about me. I commend him for that. He said something that made me think very deeply. He is concerned that, should this pass, it will just put another label on people, and thus give employers and others more reason to discriminate. Valid concern. I wonder, however... what would the world be without labels? I came to the conclusion that I think it would be a confusing place. How would we know one person from another without the label of, for example, our name. How would we recognize and celebrate diversity were it not for "labels"?

As an English teacher, I can't tell you how many times I've written in red in the margins of student papers: "Clarify." Or, if you will, label more precisely your thought. I want to know Exactly what people mean when they are expressing ideas or defining themselves. So, the more the merrier! The more you can tell me, the more I can know and love! So, who am I, what am I? I am Danielle Severson Koberstein, mother, wife, Mormon, teacher, woman, Suma cum Laude scholar, pianist, flautist, scrapbooker. You may scoff at some of them, and some impress you, but each of these "labels" I wear with utmost pride, regardless of what others think. So then I have this question... if homosexual couples really feel in their hearts that they are doing what's best for them, why would they want to hide under a label that has, for so long, meant only one thing? Wouldn't they want something--a label, or title-- to call their own? To make clear to everyone who they are, and show that they like who they are and respect themselves? If they want respect and social acceptance, shouldn't they first be willing to wear a title that unabashedly says who they are? That they accept and love themselves? Perhaps they are afraid of...of what? Of people knowing who they are and what they feel?

Some people say we should not create a different title for same sex couples, citing how difficult it is for some to "come out of the closet," so to speak, and be socially accepted. Ok, honestly, who feels accepted all the time? For every of the above titles I listed for myself, I've been laughed at, looked down on, misunderstood. Everybody in the world has at some time felt these things. It makes us human. It gives us compassion. A bit ironic, though... how being misunderstood can make us more understanding towards others...

Anyway, the long and short of it is, I like clarity in language. I like it when the people I meet aren't trying to hide under misleading titles. I feel that calling homosexual couples "married" will shortchange our understanding of each other... and this is just one reason why I want to vote Yes on 8.

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9 Comments:

At October 11, 2008 8:08 AM , Blogger barbara said...

Very well said!!

 
At October 12, 2008 10:09 AM , Blogger Aaron and Emily said...

Thank you for thinking so thoroughly about this and explaining your thoughts so well. I really appreciate this.

 
At October 12, 2008 6:36 PM , Blogger Daughter #2 said...

Beautifully said!

 
At October 12, 2008 8:43 PM , Blogger jcsev said...

Good job, sis! I like the angle that you present.

 
At October 13, 2008 2:14 PM , Blogger Paul said...

Did you leave Drum Major off your list because you thought I would tease you? Just kidding. Thanks for your efforts in this political matter. Were you suma cum laude at BYU? Didn't we graduate together? Why didn't I know that?

 
At October 13, 2008 4:20 PM , Blogger Danielle said...

Heh, I should have put Drum major...

We walked together at BYU, but I still had another term to go. I didn't even know until I got my diploma.

 
At October 14, 2008 8:50 PM , Blogger Aaron and Emily said...

I thought it was "summa cum laude." Miss English major...

Don't you have to have a 4.0 for that? Wow, impressive.

 
At October 20, 2008 7:08 PM , Anonymous recreader said...

I mean none of this personally.

1. Prop 8 denies homosexual couples the RIGHT to get MARRIED in California (read the voter's pamphlet). This RIGHT was given to them this year (whether you/we like it or not). So, in fact you are voting to take away a RIGHT they currently have. You think you are taking away nothing by replacing the RIGHT they currently have with something else ("partnerships") that you presume will lead to all the same consequences . . . based on your point of view only.

2. You can't be FOR tolerance and not be AGAINST intolerance. I don't think you are intolerant, but is it confusing as to why people would THINK you are intolerant? Is it really surprising that, if they thought you were being intolerant, they would fight against your intolerance? Doesn't everyone fight against intolerance? Why do people keep making this argument? Just because I am tolerant, doesn't mean I have to tolerate (what I conclude to be) intolerance.

3. Labels are not bad. Bad labels are bad. That is why we are "fighting" so much over the word "marriage." You don’t want the term or principal of “marriage” (a good label) to be defiled by attaching homosexuals to it. They want to leave behind the bad label(s) they were given a while back and be called by a respectable one because they feel what they do is legitimate and has always been. You say they should develop their own title, but that is because you think that homosexual marriage is something different. Is it difficult to see that they don't think it is different? That they should have belonged to the word "marriage" for the last _,000 of years? How can you hear that concern, "think deeply about it," and then say, "Hey homosexuals, labels are important." (Since you so clearly defined yourself), That is like someone telling you "LDS women should no longer be called “women.” They should have a term that specifies what they are. We’ve decided to call them females (just like a married man and woman are “partners,” women are “females”). So, you can't call yourself woman anymore, you will be referred to as female only." Then, you react by saying "'female' is a bit degrading, plus I am no different than other 'woman.'" They respond by saying, "Well, you need to CLARIFY yourself."

4. Summa cum laude? You must have studied the hard sciences . . . or math perhaps. Sorry, that is a little harsh, but you just seem so confident in yourself and your writing that it seems like you need to be brought down to earth to reconsider why it is you are voting "yes." If you truly think "yes" is the way to go, you shouldn't do it for any of the reasons you have listed here. Do the right thing, for the right reason.

5. I am sure that all those things you listed off about yourself brought the same lack of understanding from society that homosexuals experienced. I am pretty sure you are not THAT ignorant or sheltered. Have you ever talked to a homosexual? Why did you write that?

I like your intent, and I mean none of this personally, as hard as that may seem. You are an English teacher (oops, so you majored in English?) so please take this as constructive criticism. My hope is that you'll actually appreciate it as the "scholar" you claim to be. You need to work on seeing other people's point of view and coming up with arguments that address the concerns of both sides. The best arguments are the ones that address both sides of an issue (if only in the writer’s mind) and make claims or suggestions that both sides could potentially agree with (assuming both sides are concerned with determining WHAT'S right and not WHO'S right). Even with this difficult issue, it is possible . . . although I think there are few people in the "WHAT'S right" camp.

 
At October 20, 2008 9:40 PM , Blogger Danielle said...

Dear Recreader,

Please read my Oct. 20 post titled "Confession" so that you may better understand me and my position. Thank you for taking the time to comment.

 

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