I’m Protesting Proposition 8 Tomorrow; Please Consider Protesting Too

Euphoria over Obama’s win, followed by disbelief and despair over over Proposition 8’s ban on gay marriage passing in California. I’ll be out protesting tomorrow at South Coast Plaza in Orange County as part of a nationwide campaign. Please consider going to a location yourself. And if you’re against gay marriage, please, some words to consider.

I sat on my patio last weekend listening to my neighbors across the street, in a small party on their roof, discussing Proposition 8. “I don’t want them coming to my church to get married,” said the most vocal of the bunch. “We don’t want to encourage them.” And, inevitably as a result of those terrible TV commercials, “We don’t want them teaching that in schools.”

Ironically, those who voted for Proposition 8 to keep our schools “safe” from the instruction that was never going to happen have now helped guarantee that gay marriage WILL be taught in schools. The struggle won’t go away. It’s a civil rights movement that will only get stronger, be a part of California history and will be taught to school children from years to come. And years from now, many people will look back on the struggle in the same way they view other civil rights struggles and think, “How could this have been done to a group of people.”

Gay marriage is personal to me. “Them” gay people aren’t some nebulous group that exists only in San Francisco. They’re real people I know, with names like Ken, Jessie, Ted and Greg.

Greg, godfather to my children. One of the best friends you could have. Someone that deserves, if he should want to marry, to have the right to do so.

I simply don’t get it. You can fight for your country — just don’t say your gay, and it’s OK? And should you die defending your country, sorry — no folded flag, since you can’t have a spouse.

When I heard the news of the loss, one of my first thoughts was that I wanted all the gay people in American to go on strike for a day — to really illustrate how many there are. Turns out, there’s a movement now to make that happen, this Dec. 10, “No Gays For A Day.” I hope it happens.

Somewhat related, last weekend, there was a fascinating piece in the Los Angeles Times by Jasmyne Cannick, a Black lesbian, on why she wasn’t surprised that Blacks voted so heavily in favor of the proposition. You have to appreciate her honesty, as well as her realism of the challenge:

Even I wasn’t inspired to encourage black people to vote against the proposition. Why? Because I don’t see why the right to marry should be a priority for me or other black people. Gay marriage? Please. At a time when blacks are still more likely than whites to be pulled over for no reason, more likely to be unemployed than whites, more likely to live at or below the poverty line, I was too busy trying to get black people registered to vote, period; I wasn’t about to focus my attention on what couldn’t help but feel like a secondary issue.

It’s hard. Watching Obama talk about gay marriage as a state issue; watching Biden in the debate with Palin say he was for partnerships but not gay marriage, it was disheartening knowing that was a compromise they had to make, just as Clinton compromised on gays in the military. Obama had challenges enough winning the trust of some in America without having to have support of gay marriage bogging his campaign down, which is almost certainly would have. I understood the compromise. It didn’t make the taste less bitter.

So I can understand what Cannick wrote. I can understand, though I can never really feel, the inequalities she describes and has experienced. But if there was a proposition on the ballot that allowed me to deal with those problems? That allowed me to vote for equality? I’d vote for it. I’d hope anyone would vote for it and not think, “No, not until X, Y & Z” are fixed first.

Finally, I’ll leave with a video from Keith Olbermann that’s been capturing attention, where he speaks succinctly on the issue. Consider that about 1/3 of US states had laws preventing Blacks & Whites from being married as late as 1967 — and as he notes, Barack Obama’s own parents couldn’t have been married.

Please consider showing your support at a protest tomorrow. If not tomorrow, then another time, in another way. And please reconsider your position, if you’ve been against gay marriage. There are real people, with real feelings and desires, who simply want the same rights independent of the fact that they share their love with someone of the same sex.