In 2008, when Californians were getting ready to cast their ballots in favor or against prop 8, my neighborhood began a passive aggressive feud. The neighbors across the way placed a Yes on Prop 8 sign in their garden. The next day their neighbors, with whom they share a fence, placed a no on prop 8 sign in their yard. By the end of the week three more anti and pro signs appeared in my little alleyway of 12 houses. And so my neighbors were divided.

We waged a war against one another that consisted of dirty looks and forced hellos. The friendly waves we greeted each other with while rolling out the trash or from out our car windows ceased. All of sudden, the neighborly sharing of lemons and oranges from our various fruit trees came to a stunning halt. We were at odds.

Around that time my brother came to visit from San Francisco. “No one in San Francisco would ever have a vote yes on prop 8 sign. I didn't even know those kind of signs exisited” He said disgusted upon seeing the madness of my alley. I was embarrassed.

We didn’t have a sign. Not because my husband and I didn’t have an opinion but more out of laziness. Where do you even get such a sign? Mostly, and I hate to admit this, above all, I wanted to avoid the uncomfort that had taken over our normally peaceful neighborhood. I wanted to stay out of it.

A month before the prop 8 signs appeared a couple of us had a barbeque complete with bon fire and craft beer. The topic turned to politics and quickly went downhill. It was the McCain supporters against the Obama fans with both sides poking fun at my husband, the lone Ron Paul enthusiast.

“I don’t know if I can drink with an Obama fan.” I was mockingly told. I laughed politely but underneath the joke I could feel an underlying anger.

Looking back, I think the division between our neighbors started long before the appearance of the prop 8 signs.

The neighbors directly across from us are Mormon. They are nice Family, always friendly, and go out of their way to help everyone in our alley. Every Christmas the wife drops off a Tupperware full of homemade toffee. They watched our dog while we were on vacation and once helped me with a pretty serious plumbing problem. They were the first to don a prop 8 sign. Their church insisted that every member make waves in regards to Prop 8. They were told that every single one of them needed to have a sign displayed encouraging what they called “protecting marriage.” I’m pretty sure that despite what they were told by their church they would have proudly displayed the sign anyway.

While all of this was going on I had to ask myself: is it okay to be civil to people with whom you share completely different views? Could I in good conscious accept people whose views I found offensive? I had a hard time drawing the line with my neighbors. I see them every day. Living so close to other people you really get a sense of who they are. All of them are good people. In the end I realized that I could love them without having to accept their ideas and beliefs. It's a simple concept, one I learned as a child, yet still I have a hard time with it. It's hard to respectfully disagree with people.

I’d like to think that we all learned something from our feud, although it's hard to tell. A few months after Prop 8 passed, new neighbors moved in. They had two dogs. Ones in which were constantly barking. Day and night you could hear their desperate yaks. That’s when we were really able to put the prop 8 business behind us because we had something new to wage war against: those obnoxious dogs. However frivolous it seemed, freedom from the barks was something that brought the neighborhood back together again.

Now, almost two years later, things have cooled down. We have all gone about our business and have resumed being neighborly to one another.
On Wednesday, when I heard the news that Prop 8 had been declared unconstitutional I celebrated and then quickly wondered if once again our alley would wage a cold war.

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Comments

a2zresource Aug. 5, 2010 @ 3:06 p.m.

I am inspired by this to write a blog post. It's time to out the American Christian theocracy.

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David Dodd Aug. 5, 2010 @ 5:32 p.m.

"I never considered a difference of opinion in politics, in religion, in philosophy, as cause from withdrawing from a friend." ~ Thomas Jefferson

I remember that when this proposition was being contested - and keeping in mind that my personal opinion is that you should be able to marry whomever you wish, even your pet parrot if you like - I was disappointed in how entirely intolerant some of the gay community acted toward those who were in favor of Prop. 8. I kept thinking, everyone certainly has a right to an opinion about this, why would you hate on someone with an ideology that differs from your own? Some of the gay community went completely out of their way to attempt (successfully attempt in some circumstances) to close businesses where the owners took a stand in favor of the proposition.

I'm completely happy with the ruling overturning proposition 8. But I hope, really and truly hope, that the gay community learned something about tolerance and compassion through all of this. It isn't any more okay to shut down one side than it is to shut down the other.

Great blog post, Siobhan.

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MsGrant Aug. 5, 2010 @ 5:48 p.m.

Touchy subject. I had a conversation with two friends of ours who where able to marry during the time before Prop 8 went into effect. They were astonished that No on Prop 8 received little support from the African-American population. They reasoned that out of all the voting population, African-Americans would understand their plight more than most. When I explained that attitude was in itself a form of prejudice, to discount someone's deeply held religious beliefs as not worthy of even being taken into account, they looked at me as if I were crazy. Just an example of how difficult it is for some to see that many people take their choices quite seriously.

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nan shartel Aug. 6, 2010 @ 8:21 a.m.

it's sad isn't it that friendship in neighborhood can be so disconnect by opinions about social issues

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MsGrant Aug. 6, 2010 @ 9:13 a.m.

I never put political signs in my yard, because it can cause big problems with people you never would have had a problem with otherwise. But I did put a No on Prop 8 sign in my yard and the minute it went up my neighbor ran over here and started challenging me. It was awful. He barely speaks to us now. Speaking of ethics, this would be a good example. Do you put a sign up representing something you feel strongly about and risk jeopardizing your relationship with your neighbors, or do you just keep your beliefs to yourself? All I know is I will never do it again.

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Founder Aug. 6, 2010 @ 9:55 a.m.

Reply #5

It's a sad state of affairs that we all have to live in fear of our Political Support being unacceptable to others!

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Evelyn Aug. 6, 2010 @ 10:45 a.m.

The Civil Rights Movement and same sex marriage are different issues. Most people can distinguish a person's racial ethnic background by sight. That's not possible with homosexuals. And I first heard this from someone else while in school... The idea of comparing the two fights never did sit right with me.

Isn't it sad that differences can be so polarizing? And yet, differences are what make live interesting. Otherwise, we'd all just be agreeing with each other and have nothing to talk about.

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MsGrant Aug. 6, 2010 @ 11:46 a.m.

The two are very distinctly different, blueevey. One thing both these struggles shared is the "separate but equal" aspect, that being those that argue a civil union is the same thing as a marriage, and that is what many grabbed on to to support their position that gay marriage rights are very similar to the Civil Rights Movement. It did not sit well with me, either. As you can see, sometimes it can be polarizing even if you both agree with the basic principle.

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ahousebythesea Aug. 6, 2010 @ 8:33 p.m.

"In the end I realized that I could love them without having to accept their ideas and beliefs. It's a simple concept, one I learned as a child, yet still I have a hard time with it. It's hard to respectfully disagree with people." Wonderful post Siobhan. Our lives are regularly filled with small and large struggles of this nature from personal spats with family members and friends to disagreements on broader social, economic and political issues. Thanks for the reminder that we can indeed be respectful and loving while disagreeing.

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Siobhan Braun Aug. 7, 2010 @ 3:11 p.m.

I completely agree that differences are what make relationships interesting.

The difficulty I have is in accepting a difference that may be harmful/hateful. Where do you draw the line?

I have the tendency to try an avoid ruffling too many feathers. In the process I have felt a tremendous amount of guilt for not always speaking up when someone's views are offensive and morally questionable.

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SanDiegoParrothead Aug. 24, 2010 @ 2:55 p.m.

"... for not always speaking up when someone's views are offensive and morally questionable...."

The Mormons are probably echoing this same sentiment towards you. WHo says their views are offensive and morally questionable?

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Radical Uterus Aug. 24, 2010 @ 5:42 p.m.

I fail to see how having more miserable married people takes anything away from either side. As for taking a stand, I believe it is important to choose my battles wisely, my energy is often in short supply. Good post, I enjoyed it.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 24, 2010 @ 5:48 p.m.

The topic turned to politics and quickly went downhill.

LOL...no ONE talks politics or relegion in my family for this very reason-we all have very diametrically opposing views, and no one is changing anyones mind-so shy go thru the brain damage???

My family unit is already fractured beyond repair, we put the "fun" in dysfunctional.

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SurfPuppy619 Aug. 24, 2010 @ 5:52 p.m.

The difficulty I have is in accepting a difference that may be harmful/hateful. Where do you draw the line?

People have a right to have a "hateful" difference, no matter what. People do not have a right to a "harmful" difference. Harming people, legit harm, is not the same as speaking ones mind and being hated for speaking it.

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Founder Aug. 24, 2010 @ 6:12 p.m.

Reply #14 SP

While I agree with your description of Rights RE: "hateful" & "harmful"; I also know that for many the physical difference is not enough to prevent one from morphing into the other due to any number of factors...FAST.

A good example is a crowd peacefully demonstrating, which sudden goes wild because someone did something to someone else for whatever reason... Fear, panic, noise and confusion all can enable folks that are passive to become aggressive with little warning.The herd mentality focuses on self preservation!

As unemployment increases, and the distinction of Rich vs. Poor becomes ever greater, even our laid back City, may feel the tension build...

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MsGrant Sept. 1, 2010 @ 4:43 p.m.

I wanted to revisit this because I read something that answered my question as to why someone's religious beliefs should be discounted when they vote. I do not agree with people using religion and God to sway their vote, but I could not come up with a plausible explanation as to why, if it was deeply ingrained in them and they would not vote any other way, their vote should be discounted. Unfortunately we cannot ban people with deeply held religious convictions that effect how they vote from voting in matters such as Prop 8, but Jack Cohen wrote this in a letter today in the UT, and I think it may explain to some why voting in this manner is wrong. He wrote "....This combination of religion and politics, the kind we are fighting against in Iraq and Afganistan, has no place in America. Our soldiers are dying to preserve the separation of politics and religion. While our personal behavior and lifestyles may be guided by our religious convictions, our government and our leaders are guided by laws, laws that are free from religious dogma". This was well said. It is not going to change people from voting with their religious beliefs unfortunately, but one can hold out hope that the higher courts will prevail in these instances, as they did with Prop 8.

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Altius Sept. 2, 2010 @ 5:44 p.m.

{{They were astonished that No on Prop 8 received little support from the African-American population. They reasoned that out of all the voting population, African-Americans would understand their plight more than most.}}

Well, their reasoning is seriously flawed. Black people in the civil rights days were 1) trying to stop the lynchings, beatings, and rapes; 2) trying be recognized as fully human and as such deserving of every human right.

What the gay movement is doing is trying to create a parallel universe in which marriage, an institution as old as time, is suddenly redefined to fit their political agenda. It's so silly. Marriage is what it has always been. No amount of legislation can change that. It's like legislating that 2+2 = 5. Nonsense.

To liken that silliness to the life and death struggles faced by black people in this country -- and yes, I am of black ancestry -- is ridiculous and offensive.

All that said, civility toward all is always a good thing. Thanks for illustrating that, Siobhan.

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David Dodd Sept. 2, 2010 @ 7:33 p.m.

"What the gay movement is doing is trying to create a parallel universe in which marriage, an institution as old as time, is suddenly redefined to fit their political agenda."

Altius, I'm pretty sure that most of them just want the opportunity to marry. No idea what their political agenda would be. Most people with a political agenda tend to wish to convert people with a different agenda over onto their side. I can't say that I've ever met a gay or lesbian that ever tried to convince me to be gay or lesbian.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 2, 2010 @ 7:53 p.m.

The Civil Rights Movement and same sex marriage are different issues. Most people can distinguish a person's racial ethnic background by sight. That's not possible with homosexuals.

It is exactly a civil rights issue, and I cannot believe you make this claim- that race is different, because b/c you can tell someone’s race by looking at them (not true-but I see your drift), as compared to sexual orientation, where it is not readily identifiable.

You cannot tell someone’s religious beliefs by sight either-but it is STILL a civil rights violation to discriminate against someone based on religious beliefs.

Look, I was against same sex marriage a few years ago too, like many people, and thought that “civil unions” were fine, but the fact is this, if some gay person wants to get married, good for them-it makes NO change in MY lifestyle, or anyone else’s. Who really cares-some Morons in Utah?? My view is pretty simple, as long as what you do is not illegal and not hurting others then it should be allowed. Simple.

Prop 8 was overturned on the equal protection clause, even though sexual orientation does not receive the same strong protections that race, ethnicity, alienage, gender or illegitimacy receives, but the Prop 8 case essentially elevates sexual orientation to the same level as these other areas.

Life is not going to end, and in fact in 2-3 years all the Prop 8 supporters will look back and say the same thing ( I think so anyway). If some hard hard like me can look at the issue and come to a switch in his or her views, then anyone can.

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David Dodd Sept. 2, 2010 @ 8:02 p.m.

"...can look at the issue and come to a switch in his or her views, then anyone can."

Yep, another good point. I used to be very pro death penalty and now I am completely opposed to it. We do have the opportunity to re-evaluate our views consistently, and I think that we should. I still hate lima beans though. Hate them, passionately, hate. Chalky bastards.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 2, 2010 @ 8:05 p.m.

It is not going to change people from voting with their religious beliefs unfortunately, but one can hold out hope that the higher courts will prevail in these instances, as they did with Prop 8.

Prop 8 is over.

The AG's office is NOT going to appeal the District Court ruling, which leaves no party with an interest to file the appeal. Only the State has "standing" to appeal the District Court ruling, a legal insterest in the case. Not the Mormon church. So the case is not going to be heard by the 9th Circuit.

Me, I wish the state would appeal, so the 9th could rule on the issue, and then off to the SCOTUS who have already intervened into this case at the trial court level-which is unheard of. I personally do NOT think the Prop 8 ruling from District Court would be over turned by either the 9th or the SCOTUS.

This issue needs to be laid to rest once and for all, that is why the case needs to go up.

The 9th has not ruled on whether they are going to take/not take the case-and have asked both sides to submit briefs on the issue of standing, but I know how they are going to rule-they are going to dismiss the appeal based on lack of standing, essentially taking a wimps way out-punting, keeping in full force and effect the District Court ruling striking Prop 8 down.

In 24 months this will be a non issue, and I predict many other states will expressly allow gay marriage (of course all the western states in the 9th Circuit would be bound by the current ruling).

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Altius Sept. 3, 2010 @ 11:32 a.m.

Gringo,

You're either missing my point or choosing not to address it. The point is the proponents of gay marriage are not pushing for the right to marry, they're pushing to redefine marriage to fit their agenda. The fact is, gay people already have the right to marry. It has to be to someone of the opposite sex, because THAT'S WHAT MARRIAGE IS and has always -- the uniting of a man and woman.

Look at man in his natural state anywhere in the world -- boy meets girl, they fall in love, unite themselves in marriage, have a family, and the tribe survives. It's as natural as breathing. The idea that we modern people of the first world can legislate a same-sex version of that into existence is laughable. It's like legislating that all turtles get to be rabbits too. We're not God, people, we can't legislate changes in nature.

I goes from laughable to offensive when people try to equate this silliness with what my black ancestors went through in the civil rights struggle. Stop using the blood and tears of my ancestors to give gravitas to your silly quest to redefine nature.

Seriously. What's next? Are you going push for legislation that states gay men have the right to get pregnant and give birth?

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David Dodd Sept. 3, 2010 @ 12:43 p.m.

"It has to be to someone of the opposite sex, because THAT'S WHAT MARRIAGE IS and has always -- the uniting of a man and woman."

Yes, and at one time, men danced only with men and women only with women because THAT'S WHAT DANCING WAS. The world used to be flat, people were cured by draining of their blood, women did not have the right to vote. People of dark color were less than a person. That's just the way it was.

Now, Altius, if you are personally against gays having the right to marry, that is your right and I think you should be free to express that right. However, just so you know, when we discuss this issue, I understand and entirely disagree with your point about nature. In the animal kingdom, very few species mate for life, none feel the need to get married first, none believe in a God, and many contain large numbers of homosexuals.

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 3, 2010 @ 2:52 p.m.

Seriously. What's next? Are you going push for legislation that states gay men have the right to get pregnant and give birth?

By Altius

LOL...Altius- Prop 8 is basically over. You are just going to have to deal with gay marriage.

But something tells me you and your "black ancestors" are going to be able to pull through this ordeal.

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David Dodd Sept. 3, 2010 @ 3:27 p.m.

Actually, gay men do have the right to become pregnant and give birth. Doesn't mean they will ever achieve that possibility depending on the future advancements of medical science, but the right to attempt it? Yeah, hell, be my guest.

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nan shartel Sept. 3, 2010 @ 4:10 p.m.

i have only one difficulty where gay marriage is concern...i can't tell them that i don't want them to publicly dedicate their long term commitment to one another

those who won't say YES to gay marriage are saying NO to LOVE

and before u ask

er...um...i'm not gay

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SurfPuppy619 Sept. 3, 2010 @ 11:01 p.m.

Nan, in 2-3 years NO ONE is going to think twice about this issue-it will blow over so fast we will look back in 5-10-20 years and not think or worry twice about it-I am confident of that.

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