Editorials

Op Images: Atkins’ kiss made a profound statement about our evolution

Toni Atkins, second from left, kisses her wife, Jennifer LeSar, after being sworn in as Assembly speaker on May 12. Also on the dais are outgoing Speaker John A. Perez and Atkins’ nephew Thomas Phillips.
Toni Atkins, second from left, kisses her wife, Jennifer LeSar, after being sworn in as Assembly speaker on May 12. Also on the dais are outgoing Speaker John A. Perez and Atkins’ nephew Thomas Phillips. Sacramento Bee file

Those people who see it as their mission to dictate how other people live their lives got Proposition 8 on the 2008 ballot to ban gay marriage in California. It passed, but ultimately was thrown out by a federal court. The ruling was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Fortunately, that’s why we were able to see a photo that ran last May of Toni Atkins, a San Diego Democrat, kissing her spouse, Jennifer LeSar, after being sworn in as the new speaker of the state Assembly.

Atkins was quoted later as saying there was nothing courageous about the kiss, nor was it a political statement. She also said it was easier to be openly gay in California than in some other parts of the country.

It’s an indication of how far we’ve come that she said there was very little backlash to the photo.

And I loved her response when she took a jab at Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who during a speech in California had compared homosexuality to alcoholism. “I am not addicted to anything – well, other than coffee,” she told the audience at a women’s leadership conference in Sacramento last June. “I thank Governor Perry for being concerned about me, though.”

There definitely remain pockets of resistance to the idea that two people who love each other should be able to marry, regardless of sex, and not just in Texas. Whether it’s homophobia, religious fundamentalism or, in the case of Fox News, to pump up TV ratings, the arguments inevitably are the same – that the gay lifestyle is deviant, that marriage should be restricted to a man and a woman and/or the Bible says so.

But these people are way out on the wrong side of history, just as those who came before them were lined up on the wrong side in opposing the civil rights struggles of the 1960s. I also wonder why, if, in the case of the Christian right, the Bible is their instrument of prejudice, their interpretation seems so un-Christian, at least not Christianity as I understand it.

I suppose it all depends on whether one chooses to embrace the vengeful God of the Old Testament or the loving God of the New Testament and the birth and life of Jesus, who was about love, tolerance and acceptance of all people.

Oddly enough, many of those opposed to gay rights belong to groups with names such as the American Family Association. They appear to believe that the only reason for marriage is to procreate, which reminds me of that Tina Turner hit of the 1980s: “What’s Love Got to Do With It?”

Thanks to Toni Atkins and Jennifer LeSar for answering that question in a photo openly expressing their love and devotion to each other.

  Comments