California's Supreme Court upheld the state's "Proposition 8" ban on same-sex marriage yesterday, fanning the flames of what's sure to be an ongoing debate in the state and the nation as a whole. In light of this event, we've decided to look at some of superheroes who are out, proud and feel no shame in how they live their lives -- and who'd be most affected by legislation like Proposition 8.
NORTHSTAR: Introduced in 1979, Jean-Paul Beaubier was a mutant born with incredible resistance to injury, the ability to manipulate light, and able to fly several times the speed of sound. Originally a terrorist, he realized the error of his ways and became the Canadian superhero Northstar, serving with the teams Alpha Flight and even the X-Men for a while.
Though hints were made about his personal life, censorship in comics at the time made it near-impossible to make anything overt. After this censorship was lifted in 1989, Jean-Paul was seen adopting a baby girl named Joanne who had been infected with HIV in the womb. When Joanne later died of AIDS, Jean-Paul finally outed himself to the public, using his fame as a superhero to bring attention to HIV/AIDS prevention.
Northstar later went further and wrote a memoir about his life as a gay mutant, entitling it “Born Normal.” Historically, Northstar is the first publicly gay superhero in comics.
JENNY SPARKS: Born on January 1, 1900 and introduced to comics in 1997, Jenny Sparks was a hard-drinking, chain-smoking, bisexual smart-ass who stopped aging during her 20s and could control electricity. She’d also electrocute you on sight if you told her to wear a superhero costume or tried to cut off her booze. Jenny was not just a super-human but was the literal “spirit of the 20th century”, created by the world to be its protector for that century.
Despite her cynicism, she believed in the Earth and its potential and did her best to guide it into becoming something better, creating the popular super-team The Authority to help her do it and eventually making the ultimate sacrifice for humanity.
OBSIDIAN: The son of Alan Scott, the original hero called Green Lantern, Todd Rice (a.k.a. Obsidian) is a dark-themed character in many ways. Obsidian has great strength, can fly, become an intangible shadow, attack people with shadow-force energies, and even drive people insane by mentally forcing enemies to face the dark side of their souls.
Ever since his introduction in 1983, Obsidian was unsure about aspects of his identity and never seemed comfortable with the women he dated. When he later joined the Justice League, he admitted feeling love for his teammate Albert, but was unwilling to label it. Years later, Todd came to terms with many of his doubts about life and in 2006 he began a happy, fulfilling relationship with his friend Damon Matthews.
THE QUESTION II: Rene Montoya was a Gotham City detective, premiering in comics in 1992 soon before she became a recurring characters on the acclaimed "Batman: The Animated Series." She was tough and dedicated and refused to ever back down, even when her religious parents disowned her after discovering she was gay.
Montoya later left the GCPD and became the student of Vic Sage (a.k.a. The Question, the same character who inspired Rorschach from "Watchmen"). Since Vic’s death from cancer, Rene has pursued justice as the new Question.
BATWOMAN: Originally, Batwoman was a campy character with a utility purse who was later largely forgotten about by fans. But in 2006, a new version of the character made her debut in the weekly series "52." A former love interest of Rene Montoya’s, Kate Kane has martial arts skills, incredible financial resources and a need to avenge the victims of Gotham City.
Still largely a mystery, Batwoman is the new star of the series Detective Comics and writer Greg Rucka has promised that readers will learn more about her origins very soon, so be sure to start reading!
That’s it for now, but honorable mentions go out to Rainmaker, Apollo, Midnighter and the Pied Piper -- four more comic book heroes who would be affected by Proposition 8.
Any other comic book characters you know of who should be on the list? Let us know in the comment section!