I wanted to write something about California’s Proposition 8 and related referendums in other states. Luckily for you, I’ve found some people who say it so much better than I can, and with less disgusted ranting, and more compassion and hope than I could wrap words around. If you can’t be bothered reading it all, I’ve emphasised some of the important bits, although I hope you’ll read all of these women’s wise words…
First up is Steff (be a bit careful of following this link at work – some of the other stuff on the site is pretty NSFW – that’s why I’ve copied in the whole post):
Amidst the euphoria of Obama’s rise last night, every referendum on gay marriage was voted down.
Gay rights activists are going to be broken-hearted today. I know. You want what you want when you wanted it. You want America to be ready. You think it’s so obvious, so elementary, so how could anyone who understands what love is reject your right to it?
45 years ago, a black preacher delivered a sermon on a mount. He was gunned down the next day, shattering hearts and minds around the world and reinforcing perceptions worldwide that race was a divide America might not be able to cross.
24 years ago, another young black preacher ran for the highest office of the land and barely made it out of the starting gate before two things became apparent: One, he wasn’t the guy for the job, or two, the time wasn’t ripe for black Americans to have that apple to pluck from the tree.
Less than 24 hours ago, a young black lawyer led his party to one of the most decisive political victories of modern times in a vote heard, and cheered, all around the world.
Ten years ago, a young man named Matthew Shepherd was beaten nearly to death and then left to die hung up on a Wyoming fence.
How far in this gay-rights struggle do you think we are? How long a road has really been travelled, when you compare it to the struggles of blacks in America? Does that make it right that these proposals were struck down? Not at all.
Change takes time. The discussion on gay marriage will continue. Progress will be had. Keep up the fight.
I didn’t think America was ready for Obama. I haven’t believed America was ready for gay marriage. I’m sorry I wasn’t wrong twice.
But that will change. Gay rights in America have come a long, long ways since Matthew Shepherd. Who’d have thought we’d be so close to even possibly approving gay marriage within just 10 years in those days following the discovery of Shepherd’s lifeless fence-strung body?
If there’s any consolation to take to heart, it’s this: On January 20th, 2009, a new era of inclusion, acceptance, and dreaming a bigger dream will officially be reined in. If ever there’s a climate in which gay marriage can succeed, it will be under Obama.
No today doesn’t mean no always. It means not right now. Victory will be had. Just look at what happened in Chicago tonight, 45 years after MLK’s untimely death.
It ain’t really no. It’s just not right now. So, you gotta ask yourself. Who’s got more staying power on this issue — the people peddling fear and intolerance and voting these things down, or those who believe in the good of people and the equality of love for all?
Yeah, I think so too. Now remember your answer.
I realized that I couldn’t not say something what happened in California today, when we found out that Prop 8 passed by a narrow margin, and that gay marriage would be legally outlawed in California. First of all, I can tell you that getting the news felt like getting drop kicked in the stomach. It was a horrible feeling, and particularly strange coming right on the heels of a night that was filled with elation for so many of us.
I’m known for being something of an eternal pessimist, but not today. I refuse. No matter what happened last night, those of us who are on the side of LGBT rights are on the winning side of history, and this will not stand. My family has been fighting actively and loudly for gay rights since I was ten years old, and for the first time in my life victory and justice are so close that I can taste it, and so close that I can see it, just over the horizon. Now is not the time to give up hope, now is the time to pick up the banner and keep marching forward.
If we learned anything last night, as we watched old black women with tears streaming down their faces hold hands and sing old civil rights protests songs, it was that in this country bigotry and prejudice will not stand. Change will come. We will get there together, we just have to keep changing hearts and minds with acts of love and tolerance and acceptance. I speak from the bottom of my heart when I say that no one can take away what I’ve been given over the last few months. No one can take away the feeling of joy and elation I felt watching celebrating legal marriages with long-time couples, how I felt that first Friday in synagogue as we celebrated brand new rights, or what it was like standing on the steps of San Francisco’s city hall as elderly gay men walked out hands held high. That taste of freedom is what gives us the strength to keep going, to keep fighting, to know that justice is around the corner.
I’ll leave you with that old civil rights anthem, which has been ringing in my ears, and is doubly meaningful today:
We shall overcome, we shall overcome,
We shall overcome someday;
Oh, deep in my heart, I do believe,
We shall overcome someday.
I’m sure there were more, but I can’t find the links… If I do, I’ll add them. If you’re interested in what’s happening to try to turn the results around, have a look at Faith’s website. Oh, and some beautiful same-sex weddings from Meg: Teri and Lisa, Kim and Annie, and Tracy and Leslie. If you can look at those pictures and see the love in them, and still be against same-sex weddings, well.. I’m not sure if there’s any hope for you.
My 2c: I feel very strongly that discrimination of any sort is wrong, and poisonous to the society that contains it. This is one of the basic premises from which all my opinions follow. Colour, faith, sexual orientation – none of these things actually make any difference, none of them are important. Almost everybody finds mixed-race marriages quite acceptable these days, but less than 50 years ago they were treated similarly to same-sex marriages today. Hopefully it won’t take that long for same-sex marriages to be accepted. The relatively close margins of lots of these referendums suggest that it won’t. Like Steff, I’m hopeful that the next few years will see an increasing tolerance and less neo-con-style efforts to regulate morality, a necessary antidote to the politics of fear and hate which allow and encourage bigotry.
Edit – 12/11/08:
Some more links:
- An article in the LA Times about legal issues around the ban and the appeals
- An article in the SF Chronicle about protests against the ban. I especially like this comment from the Mormon church’s PR guy, about protesters targeting the church because of its support for Prop 8: “Eaton said calls for boycotts amounted to discrimination” – aw, shame! coz discrimination is bad and people shouldn’t be doing that, right?