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Sandip Roy Headshot

Prop 8 in the Court, Homophobia in the Closet

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To YouTube or Not-to-YouTube -- that seems to be the question when it comes to the Prop 8 same sex marriage court case in San Francisco.

Meanwhile over in Uganda they are debating whether to pass death sentences on homosexuals. Or merely seven years in prison. The bill might be softened. The death penalty, we are told, might not be "necessary."

In San Francisco, the anti-same-sex marriage side is falling over themselves to prove that they are not anti-gay, that this is not personal. Nothing against gays, some of them are my best friends, look we've given you domestic partners, sure, go visit your sick lover in hospital -- but hey, we aren't going to give you access to our strategy emails. But trust us, this is not about bias.

Over in Kampala, there is no need for such niceties. As Edwin Okong'o writes in his piece on New America Media, "American religious right-wingers are flocking to Africa and are having more success in passing new legislation criminalizing homosexuality there than they are having in Alabama, Mississippi and Georgia."

I guess it is a sign of progress that even homophobia has to put on a kinder, gentler face these days in America. Homophobia is going into the closet.

At a seminar I went to last year, the speaker, an expert on immigration, said the anti-gay issue was losing steam as a way of attracting the rightwing. Ellen, Rosie and Glee are mainstreaming gayness in a way laws like ENDA (important as it is) cannot. Some of us remember what a big deal it was when the Ellen character on her sit-com was teetering on the edge of coming out. That could no longer be the climax of a show.

The gay was no longer quite the "other" he had always been in American popular culture.

In dark economic times the undocumented immigrant was instead becoming the "new gay," the "other" on which one could blame the economic decline of America. When factories close and jobs disappear, the hapless Mixtecan-speaking poultry farm worker is a much more obvious target.

He becomes the guest who's not coming to dinner, or the Tea Party!

Same sex marriage, on the other hand, gets defended in court by lawyers who were on opposite sides of Bush v Gore. The Republican governor of California and the Democratic Attorney General decline to defend Prop 8 in court.

In a way it seems despite Prop 8's victory in the polls, the culture war against homosexuals that the likes of Pat Buchanan once trumpeted has been shipped overseas to places like Uganda.

(Of course the question is why in Uganda and other former colonies, which are quick to dub gay rights as "foreign imports" and examples of Western decadence, are only too happy to accept the help of the same foreigners when it comes to gay-bashing?)

But in the U.S., despite polling setbacks, same-sex marriage is becoming ho-hum, a little bit "yesterday's news." Listening to a talk-show on the Prop 8 trial's first day, I heard the host ask the reporter, "But what was new?"

Men marrying men is neither new nor news anymore.

And when the anti-same-sex marriage side objected to the trials being telecast on Youtube they were in essence indicating they didn't want more heart-string-tugging me-and-my-lesbian partner testimony flooding the Internet. They don't want to fight that battle.

They cannot say that. So instead they said they were afraid their backers would face harassment if their faces appeared on YouTube. That they could stand there and complain about harassment and bullying to a group of homosexuals took some balls.

I wonder if any of them ever tried to be a femme boy in a high school locker room?

That the great moral majority is now worried about straight-bashing and eager to present themselves as pro-marriage but not anti-gay is a sign that the times, they are a-changing.

If you need more proof just read this story about first same-sex marriage in San Francisco's jail. Dawn Davis II married her girlfriend while still in jail because she was afraid it wouldn't be legal by the time she got out.

But what really amazed me was after the wedding both guards and inmates congratulated her. They even threw her a party - a cake made out of honey buns and melted Snickers and chicken pieces that everyone had saved from their dinner trays the night before. From their dinner trays!

"Then they made me a card that everybody in the whole D-pod signed," writes Davis.

This is the county jail, not San Francisco city hall.

No matter what the courts decide on Prop 8, its death warrant has already been signed.

It was signed by the inmates of D-pod in San Francisco County Jail.