MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Speaks Out Against Prop 8

This may be the most moving speech for equal marriage rights I’ve ever heard. Olbermann, a straight ally, sounded like he was on the verge of tears several times.

An excerpt from the transcript:

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn’t marry another man, or a woman couldn’t marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the “sanctity” of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate… this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

Read the entire transcript here.

5 comments on “MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann Speaks Out Against Prop 8

  1. Steve says:

    Jendi – I am still trying to absorb the emotional meaning of Prop 8. I’m still trying to understand this kind of exclusion with only the flimsiest of grounds. People who will toss out some parts of the Bible as merely symbolic or circumstantial (“This is my body” is one such line, eh?) will use others that are far less clear to deny people equality.

    I have spent much of the last few days enchanted by the wedding photos of an eloping couple in San Francisco, before Prop 8. Their Facebook wedding albums (find them on inspired a painting, which is nearly finished. I posted a starting point this morning, and I will post the final product tomorrow morning.

    So having spent so much time looking at the extraordinary and visible love of these two young women, and having visually dreamed about their wedding while I painted, your post finds me unusually vulnerable and feeling.

    Annie Bissett, a very talented wood block printer who deals with social issues in her art, is also married… but not in all states. She has a progressive print she has been making about this – of the states where she is married. She discusses it at I have been wondering what Prop 8 will do to her print. How will she express that event in her art – this event that means something more to her than it can mean to me, privileged as I am to be born white, middle class, heterosexual, in America, in the twentieth century…

  2. Jendi Reiter says:

    Small world – Shannon and Meredith, the young San Francisco couple in the photos, were at the rally in Northampton earlier this month! I think they are both Mount Holyoke students. Steve’s gorgeous painting inspired by their wedding can be seen on his blog, here.

  3. Sheebooro says:

    I’m not a minister, I’m not a philosopher, I’m not a politician, I’m in another category.

  4. LED Online says:

    And it was then that I realized wow, I’m able to write lyrics and sing and stuff like that.

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