By Rev. Gilbert H. Caldwell
Full Disclosure: I am a 75 year old, African American United Methodist clergyman who was first ordained in 1956. I am straight and have been in a heterosexual marriage for almost 51 years. If I had been a resident of California, I would have voted No on Proposition 8 that defined marriage as being limited to one man and one woman.
- Was your vote determined by your understanding of Scripture and/or legislation in the United Methodist Book of Discipline?
- If Proposition 8 had read: "Marriage should be limited to one man and one woman of the same race/ethnicity", would your vote have been the same?
- Do you believe that in our democracy, numerical majorities have the right to vote to limit the civil rights of numerical minorities?
- Do you realize that while the U.S. Supreme Court declared in 1954 that the practice of racial "separate but equal" public schools was invalid, the United Methodist Church did not eliminate its "separate but equal" racial Central Jurisdiction until 1968? Does this not suggest that there is a history of the state proclaiming equality before the church? Why did a majority of the voters of California support the "same old, same old"?
- How are heterosexual marriages in California enriched and enhanced because of the majority vote to deny same gender marriage?
- Do United Methodists of Color and others who voted to support Proposition 8 realize that the Biblical and Church rationale that some of its initiators professed, was the same rationale that once restricted the rights of people of color? If they now develop a Proposition to limit the civil rights of persons of color, would you support it?
- Some persons who are against same gender marriage did not vote for Barack Obama because his father was black and his mother was white and "The Bible forbids interracial marriage". Was a vote to support Proposition 8 on Biblical grounds a vote to support those who "use" the Bible to justify their resistance to interracial marriage?
- I am disappointed as are others because many people of color who were strong supporters of Barack Obama were also supporters of Proposition 8. But, my disappointment is made more moderate because of the history of white majority decisions that limited the rights of people of color. Is it helpful for us as United Methodists to acknowledge the linkages between all of the actions to restrict the civil rights of persons whether because of race/ethnicity, gender or sexual orientation?
- Do you agree that it would be un-democratic, un-civil, unreasonable and unfaithful to allow the majority vote to support Proposition 8 to make invalid the thousands of same gender marriages that were performed when they were legal? If ever a "grandfather clause" was in order, it is now in order in California
- The tears of joy that many of us shed in response to the election of Barack Obama were a response to our acknowledgment of the utter foolishness of the attitudes and actions that once made impossible the election of an African American President. When same gender marriage becomes legal in California and the rest of the nation, we will again shed tears as we remember the foolishness of the vote to support Proposition 8. Regardless of how you voted, do you now dare admit how tragic it was to even consider a Proposition 8 in the 21st century?