Why Prop 8 is a spiritual issue

California’s anti-gay measure is a case study in what dictates change: Consciousness. Not politics

ellen kisses portiaBY CYNDI INGLE — Why does mainstream media, and a mass-market audience, get off on public displays of homo-erotic affection in particular, “girl on girl” action? Madonna slipping Britney some tongue; Ellen marrying her beautiful blonde lover, Portia, and Lindsay Lohan’s fling with Samantha.

Does this mean that we are becoming more accepting of so-called “alternative” lifestyles?

Not likely, as the recent Proposition 8 victory in America’s most populace state, California, has exposed.

On the same night that Obama became America’s (and the world’s) “Chosen One,” Prop 8 was successfully passed in California and anti-gay marriage amendments were approved in Arizona and Florida.  According to several exit polls, many of the voters who showed up in a big turn-out to support Obama also ticked “yes” for the Prop 8 anti-gay measure.

ellen-portia-people-cover.jpgThousands of gay marriages which took place in the past few months are now nullified including Ellen’s. Imagine the discussions taking place in her household now!

Why this farce that we as a society accept homosexuality and think bisexuality is “cool” (à la pre-Billy Bob, Angelina Jolie) but still maintain a moat around marriage and parenthood that same sex couples aren’t allowed to cross?

Our sexuality and sexual orientation are an intrinsic part of our spirituality, and how we connect with ourselves and with others.

While mainstream religions with a fundamentalist bent have always tried to separate what they see as the carnal, sinful body from the squeaky clean soul, contemporary mystics understand the soul/body connection does not elevate one above the other. Both aspects are equally important and inter-related.

Why are some self-avowed “religious” people so afraid, and hateful, towards homosexuals? Why are they so unwilling to allow that all people regardless of sexual orientation should have the right to marry and raise children if they wish?

Philosophers in antiquity such as Plato postulated that most people are bisexual or have a continuum of sexuality that is contained in their persona. In ancient Greece there weren’t concepts or words for “homosexual” or “heterosexual.” During that time, even making allowances for regional differences, it was assumed that men can (and did) enjoy the erotic beauty of either gender.

In the 20th century, zoologist and sexologist Alfred Kinsey developed the Kinsey Scale, which scientifically blurred the gay-straight divide by measuring where an invidual scored on that continuum.

Queerness today seems to be tolerated for titillation, to sell gossip mags and tabloids, to hype movies and music. But once the practice becomes “real” or tries to get its feet under the table of our norms and institutions, the claws (and fists and guns) come out.

I leave you with a final thought seriously, would any of the great historic religious leaders have preached intolerance and hatred against people who were different from the tribal “norm?” Would Jesus, or Mohammad, or Buddha have made it a point to single people out based on their sexuality?

Maybe one day humans will evolve to embrace the similarities we all share rather than the differences. What do you think . . . am I being overly naive?

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15 Responses to “Why Prop 8 is a spiritual issue”

  1. …all rights have been fought for..usually for years and to the personal risk and safety as well as freedom of those fighting for the changes…this seems to me the death throes of the old guard…they just cannot let it go…we must pick up and continue the journey…namaste…

  2. I was so disappointed when Prop 8 passed. After being buoyed up by Obama’s win it was a let down that the right to marry was taken away from Californian same-sex couples. I’m hoping for the sake of equality and decency that this issue is revisited quickly and rights restored.

  3. The “fighting” that has to happen (and is happening) is inside as we come to terms with our fears and open to a fearlessness based on connectedness. What I see in the passing of Prop 8 is the power that fear still has in our unconscious. I think the population is becoming more accepting, but the “pro-Prop 8″ campaign was based on lies which played into peoples fears. The idea that “Churches would loose their tax-exempt status”, that parents would loose control of thier childrens education, etc. None of these were true and none of these really spoke to the issue, either of “gay-rights” or the more fundamental issue of equality. Our egos respond to fear without thinking openly and questioning “Is that really true – Does that make sense?” The spiritual work we all have to do is learn to live in a more open relationship with the “what is” so we can question lies and “fear-mongering”. Thank you Cyndi for speaking truth and calling our attention to deeper awareness.


  4. FYI gay marriages have NOT been nullified. Not yet anyway.

  5. “leave you with a final thought — seriously, would any of the great historic religious leaders have preached intolerance and hatred against people who were different from the tribal ‘norm?’”

    oh and passing prop 8 does not meen we “hate” or “intolerate” gay people.

  6. Real change will always arise out of changes in consciousness and awareness, not poltical strategies or mechanisms. The latter are creatures of consciousness, not its fundamental denizens.

    A metaphor is air flight. Through the 19th century, the conventional wisdom was that ‘man’ couldn’t fly, and was not meant to fly. Therefore, the vast majority of the human tribe that was plugged into that belief neither developed nor invested in early aeronautics.

    A handful of visionaries who possessed a liberated or ‘advanced’ consciousness changed all of our lives. Now our elected representatives vote on policies that are derivative of that evolution — the entire political infrastructure of the air industry, from the creation of the FAA to the $270 million that the Ketchikan International Airport received this decade in earmarks.

  7. Great writing, Cyndi, and thank you for FINALLY bringing up the subject of SPIRITUALITY instead of RELIGION.

    When I first came out 25 years ago, I had the miraculous intervention of having Caroline Myss sit down with me and tell me about the larger picture of why gay people exist on the planet. Her explanation had nothing to do with whether it was right or wrong, but rather about the consciousness that ends up being raised by the presence of gay people. Those were the beginning days of AIDS, which she explained in a broader sense as being a manifestation or the overall health of our planet and the psychic energy of those who were being hardest hit by the disease: gay men, Haitians, and IV drug users–those whose psyches embodied the victim mentality.

    We’ve come a long way since then, with the gay community finding more positive outlets than those formerly available to us, a greater sense of welcoming, despite the election numbers that seem to say otherwise, and a sense that our contributions matter.

    If the level of consciousness can be measured, I think the passage of these propositions and amendments will actually end up giving us a boost spiritually. At least I hope so!!

  8. Tammie Kong-Santos Reply 20. Nov, 2008 at 6:40 pm


    Great article! I agree. I think that Prop 8 violates an individual’s right to marry the person of their choice, with “choice” being more like the kind of “choice” religion is, a spirtual choice. People say that religion is a choice, and not immutable, like gender, disability, race, or sexual orientation. But my honey and I have had lots of discussions about this, and we think religion is more like a half-choice. Obviously, it’s not immutable, but it’s a commitment your heart and mind makes. People say that they “found” God. Well, my honey and I never say that we chose each other. We always say that we “found” each other. If someone asks a Christian whether they could choose not to believe in God or if they could choose to be Catholic and not Protestant, chances are, they’ll say no. Likewise, if someone asked me if I could choose to love someone other than my husband, I’d say hell no.

    I think Prop 8 violates everyone’s right to marry the person of their choice, that they’ve committed their heart and mind to, not just gay people. The right to marry is a spiritual choice, for sure, and instead of having the right to marry the person most precious to me in life, I now only have the right to marry a man. I’m already married, but I’m still upset that the underlying spirit of this right has been ruined.

  9. I like the article Cyndi, and you do raise some very good points. Taking the discussion out of the religious arena and into the spiritual arena is, I think where it should have gone in the first place.

    I was raised Mormon and like to say I have since repented. I look back on my time in the church as a whole other life, as it were. In the fall of 1990 I finally found the courage to come out. My life has ultimately been a lot happier since and has taken some interesting turns.

    One of the things I had to do at that time was to try to reconcile my faith with my sexuality. I found over time that for me, spirituality and religion are two completely separate entities. For me spirituality was and is the greater consciousness and connection to the universe and to God. Religion, on the other hand, seemed to me the vehicle by which man sought to control their fellowmen, using God’s name to do so. It is my opinion that had spirituality prevailed, prop 8 would never even have been a thought much less the firestorm of hatred and bigotry it came to embody. When prop 22 passed, it did so by a rather large margin. The fact that prop 8 passed with just a 4% margin is, in itself, a victory in my mind. The tides are indeed turning.

  10. Same-sex marriage forces us to shine a huge spotlight on marriage in general. This obviously makes a lot of people uncomfortable because as an institution, marriage has long been in ill repair. If we really do believe that marriage is for love and companionship, then a union between two caring, consenting adults should pose no threat to any other. Prop 8 is an attack on many things, including consistency.

  11. Thanks for the clear distinction between our desire to look at beautiful women – whatever they’re doing, and what real acceptance means. Another great article, Cyndi – you’re so productive!

  12. Lack of understanding breeds fear. I think that the more gay culture becomes ingrained in our society, the more that society will hopefully come to accept that same-sex couples are no less deserving of the same legal rights. Ellen DeGeneres’ coming out on her TV show years ago signalled a massive change – never before had major network TV really portrayed a sitcom character who came out during the series. Today we see an even more open representation in popular culture with shows like The L Word, Will & Grace…the current movie ‘Milk’, based on the life and death of California’s first openly gay elected official Harvey Milk, is getting major Oscar buzz.

    I know people can still view entertainment and feel a sense of detachment. That is, they can accept the portrayal of gay characters on-screen, but they cannot translate those feelings of acceptance into real life. I can only hope that one day we can look past our fear of the unknown and maybe TV shows and movies help in some way; but, I think acceptance has to come from within.

    There are still many backwards-minded individuals all over the world now learning to co-exist in a racially diverse society. In the US, it was a profound and historic moment when the first African-American was elected president — something many never dreamed would ever happen. Red states (including several in the south) turned blue — unheard of! It is a shame that on the same day the majority of Americans voted for change, and a new era of hope, Prop 8 passed.

    We are making small progress to reach bigger goals of universal tolerance and understanding. I guess it’s a 2 steps forward, 1 step back situation. I know we’ll get there one day.

  13. Freedom Spirit Gal Reply 01. Dec, 2008 at 9:00 pm

    Truly it is the voyeur in all of us that may be drawn into the media hype and circus-like coverage of the intimate, romantic celebrity relationship. Personally, my tolerance is infinite for people who love and care for each other, whatever their gender or orientation. Straight folk need to role model tolerance and love for their children and so would a gay couple. Yet, the latter face so much discrimination and hate crimes against their simply “being” that it must be very scary and difficult to raise children in such an intolerant climate. Each of us needs to reflect on what it is that makes us intolerant of anyone we see as different and then seek to understand what similarities we possess. At that moment, we then see how human beings of whatever gender or orientation are people we are better able to feel the compassion and empathetic depths of their pain. I pray for a brighter tomorrow where all people are kinder and gentler and well, more tolerant.

  14. Another great article Cyndi – you express things very clearly. Any thoughts about why we’re doing (somewhat) better in Canada? Here in Whistler, we’re going to have the first ever “Pride House” during the winter Olympics next year. There has not been any backlash at all; everyone I’ve talked with so far thinks it’s great, and will add a beautiful vibe. A good friend has organized this, and I’ll be asking him if the out-of-country visitors respond differently.