From Abel Lopez, Senior Associate Parish Life & Multiculturalism
Early in my childhood my brothers and sisters and I got in trouble quite often. Sometimes we created problems that got out of hand, for which we would then gather to discuss possible solutions or ways to make up our actions. Failing to find a way out of some big messes, we would conclude that it was the kind of problem that needed one of “Mama’s little prayers.”
Intrinsic in these words was our belief that Mama’s prayers were able to break through any amount of trouble and reach the divine in such a way that our little devil-acts could be erased and a new beginning granted to us. Even today, I still sometimes call Mama for her “little prayers.” Somehow they have become my comfort, not because of her intercessory powers, which I believed in as a child, but because the actions that follow her prayers were always about restoration with grace, providing a dignified way to resolve a situation.
I learned this many years later when my father would take me to the savannah in Cuba in his big Russian truck. Week after week, my father drove to a concentration camp, where over a hundred men were held in custody because of their sexual orientation. The only water they had was for drinking—none for bathing or laundry.
So we had them load our truck with clothes, socks, bed sheets and blankets that every one of us at home would then spend hours that same afternoon washing. And as we got to know these gay Cubans, our family prayer, Mama’s little prayer, was about their gaining their freedom. And, one more time, Mama’s little prayer was answered one day, when Fidel Castro shipped them all to the United States, where they found freedom. Well, of a sort.
I proudly became an American last year. America is a great land of opportunity with freedoms unimagined in other parts of the world. But there are challenges to that freedom—and one of them in this upcoming election is Prop 8, the ballot initiative that would take away the rights of same sex couples to marry.
Notwithstanding the theological reasons for opposing the measure, Proposition 8 seems anti-American to me. How can Americans propose limiting rights for some of its citizens? I’ve been told all my life that the words “Liberty and justice for all” were what America is all about.
This great ideal has been recently embodied in California law that currently upholds what we know to be true, that every Californian has the right to fundamental freedoms, including the freedom to marry the person they love. Regardless of how you feel about this issue, we should guarantee the same fundamental rights to every Californian. These rights should never be taken for granted. Proponents of Prop 8 continue to lie in their television ads.
It seems to me that it’s time for another one of Mama’s little prayers. One that inspires us to act on the side of freedom, justice and fairness. Let’s put the meaning back into the words “Liberty and justice for all,” by voting NO on Proposition 8.