The drive from San Francisco to Texas took almost three full days. We drove for seven-hour shifts on average. I stopped counting "Support Our Troops" ribbons on cars after about 100. I wanted to put a sign on my van that says: Support Our Troops. Arm Their Vehicles.
I also counted Wal-Marts. I saw four in one hour along an Arizona highway.
A few signs we spotted along t he way: "Pro-Life Vineyard" in AZ; "Polygamy is Abuse" in AZ; and "Christ + His Holy Bible = Solutions to All Life's Problems" outside of San Antonio. If only it were that easy...
Then there are the gas stations. They're all like mini malls, offering everything from freaky life-sized dolls and toy tanks to clock radios and random DVDs. I couldn't tell the one in Arizona apart form the one in New Mexico. That said, I am thankful for Chevron's clean bathrooms.
After enjoying hours of open roads and beautiful landscapes in Arizona and New Mexico, El Paso, Texas greeted us with every chain store in America. It was overwhelming. Loud fluorescent signs and advertisements line the entire highway.
Houston isn't as loud, but it's also full of strip malls.
I spent most of yesterday at the Galleria mall asking people about the state's constitutional amendment that would ban both gay marriage and civil unions. A separate bill would prohibit gays from adopting. The Senate is scheduled to vote on the constitutional amendment next week; the adoption bill is not expected to pass.
Here are excerpts from those interviews:
John Jones from West Virginia
Voted for George W. Bush -- his mother and siblings are all Democrats
I'm 100 percent against gay marriage. If you're against gay marriage, you obviously have to be against gays adopting children. There's no way I can endorse that.
Probably because of my Biblical understanding.
Do you have any gay friends?
I have people I know who are gay. Would I call them friends? I'm not opposed to them for who they are, I'm opposed to the lifestyle they live. I'm in a sheltered area. We try to keep them in the closet.
Do you think opinions about gay marriage might change over time like opinions changed about interracial marriage?
Not from my perspective because interracial marriage wasn't a sin according to scripture.
Do you think gays deserve the same rights as straight couples?
No, because they're not a minority. They have a sickness.
What do you mean when you say they have a sickness?
Well, it's a sin. Does the Bible call it a sickness? No, that's a personal reference. It's an unnatural lifestyle and has no way of reproducing.
If a family member approached you and said they were gay, would you still love him or her?
I would still love them. I would embrace them, but they would know where I stand on the issue.
But your relationship wouldn't change?
I wouldn't think so if it was somebody I really loved. It's not a personal issue. Everyone is loved equally by God.
Are you a Bush supporter?
Very much so.
What do you like about him?
I think he's a real person. What you see is what you get. He's a good common sense type of individual that tries to make decisions based upon his gut feeling and I appreciate that. He's not swayed and that what it takes to be a good lea der.
Do you always vote Republican?
I vote primarily Republican because of the platform and the issues they stand for, including gay marriage and abortion.
[At the end of my conversation with John Jones, he asked me how I feel about gays adopting. I told him that my aunt is gay and is raising a young boy whom she adores. I also told John that I mentor a young girl who is rarely fed by her mother and doesn't receive the love she deserves. I ask John if it really matters if a loving parent is gay or straight. He stares ahead and doesn't answer. ]
Olu Onabowale from Houston, TX
Student at the University of Houston
Voted for John Kerry
I support the ban. As a Christian, the homosexual lifestyle doesn't fly with me.
Do you have any gay friends?
Not that I know of. If they are, they haven't come out to me.
How would you feel if one of your friends came out to you?
It wouldn't spoil our relationship. If he's just gay and he has his lifestyle, I'm cool with that.
But you don't think he has the right to get married?
No. Marriage is between a man and a woman. A man and a man and a woman and a woman getting married doesn't seem right to me.
How do you feel about the law to prevent gays from adopting?
That is just wrong. If they want to adopt, they should be allowed to. I mean these are kids that don't have parents. If a gay couple wants to give them a home and call them their kids, they should be able to.
Caroline Hodges from Houston, TX
Director with Mary Kay
Voted for George W. Bush
I'm really conflicted on this one. Marriage is marriage. In my heart, I would love to follow the Bible, then again, I know God loves everyone. But I do believe that mar riage is sacred between a man and a woman. I believe consenting gay couples can have a lot of the rights of a heterosexual marriage, but marriage in the eyes of God is between a man and a woman.
Do you think gay marriage should be banned?
They could get married in City Hall, but not Church.
How do you feel about the law that would prevent gays from adopting?
There are so many kids that need love. If the gay couple is loving and offers them a home, then why not? It doesn't mean they're going to be gay, but it is confusing to them. There are also a lot of whacko heterosexual couples who shouldn't have kids, but you always wonder: what's the long term effect? I'd rather the child be loved than be neglected.
Sabrian Lewallen from Houston, TX
Sales Rep for West Gate Resorts
Gay marriage shouldn't be banned. Gays should be able to have kids just like everybody else. We all put our pants on the same way and we're all human. We should all have the same rights.
Why do you think so many Texans are in favor of this ban?
People are afraid of change. I work in this mall and my gay friends can't be gay at work unless they work at a salon. Around here, especially in Houston, if you're gay and they know it, they won't hire you. That's why my friend turns off his "gayness." He acts more macho at work than he does when he's not at work.