So here’s the rub, we screwed up big time in 2008, when we let Prop 8 pass.
Yes, I know I’m talking about a campaign I was mostly only looking at from the peripheral before I really got involved in any activism. I realise that many of these actions happened before I had the bravery to walk down the street as who I am, but I use the term “we” to describe the equality movement as a continuous movement of which every brave soul who stands up, true to themselves is a part of.
However despite all the work of the NoH8 campaign, the general mood of lgbtqiappqa people around California and the USA, was that Prop 8 had no chance of passing. I remember watching in utter disbelief as the results came in.
In 2003 we had a move forward so basic and fundamental, that said something so utterly simple, that being gay was no longer a crime. The backlash as almost immediate, with the republicans using homophobic hate to fuel their re-election of a man who proudly admitted he would block any expansion of hate crimes if it protected gay people.
If the equality movement had crumbled at every set back, the President might still be in chains, the Secretary of State might still be the property of her husband, and I would be either in prison, or dead. Instead of faltering, we began to fight back with a renewed passion, in part, because we knew if we did not fight, hate for our very being would be codified into the constitution.
Massachusetts was the first state to legalize marriage equality, and we slowly made moves to bring in civil unions, domestic partnerships and in a few states marriage equality, when the event happened. The California Supreme Court struck down the laws on marriage equality as discriminatory. Suddenly we had a victory, and it was an unmatched game changing victory. We’d won in one of our home states, and we could already smell DOMA on its deathbed. But from across the USA haters gathered, seething in their unholy disgust of ordinary americans daring to demand their rights.
They came to California with their tax-exempt funds and loyal minions who thought they were doing the work of a loving god who wanted them to fight equality. Lies, mistruths and whispers were spread to scare people about the simple concept of equality. Those lies tipped the balance, and while we’d come a long way since the 70% vote in 2000.
Now with my limited legal understanding, and with 5 minutes I can drive a truck through the constitutionality of Prop 8, and I have no doubt that once it gets to the supreme court not even Bush’s handpicked stacking of the court can argue that its just or constitutional to strip rights by majority rule. I agree that we can win this without another ballot initiative, but I think this time we have to put up up for the popular vote.
31 states have voted on our rights, and 31 have made the wrong choice, the un-American choice, and a choice will stain the reputation and soul of every one of those states even more perhaps than those who had anti-miscegenation laws on their books. The religious right uses it in every argument, in every case, that it managed to bring intolerance to every state no matter how blue it is.
This is a war, but not of weapons and power, but one of ideas, on one side there is hate, cruelty and ignorance, and the other is a side of love, compassion and wisdom. We had a huge victory in New York, thats turned the tide against NOM and its allies, across the country from deep blue to faintly red states are talking about marriage equality, not to mention the Repeal of DOMA is being talked of and supported by significant politicians who were too cowardly to do so before.
I don’t want to fight a war, I want to find the right words to melt the most bigoted heart, and I’m still looking for those words, but as I’ll write in another article, about my experiences trying to communicate with the heathen has worn even my godlike patience to the point at which I acted in a way that I’m not exactly proud of.
At stake is more than our own selfish interest, its for the interest of every single LGBTQIAPPQA youth out there who’s vulnerable and alone because they are surrounded by christian fundamentalists, in deep red and even deep blue enemy territory. Its about telling the world that you are marrying the person you want to spend the rest of you life with. Its about building a life with someone and not having to carry around legal documents just to prove that they are your spouse. Its about employers respecting your family just the same as any other family, in sickness, and in health. Its for when that bond is strained by illness, and eventually snapped by death, and being treated the same as any other widow, by your friends, your town, your state and your government as every other new widow struggling to make sense of the life they have lost. Its about our children, and our families being given the same rights, and treated with the same respect as others.
So my fellow champions are you prepared to fight the next hard battle and take us one step closer to the victory of true equality.We’ve got to risk a lot of support, a lot of resources on a battle many think is already won.But we need to win it in a way that they cannot dismiss, they cannot rubbish and they cannot ever hold over us again. California needs to vote, not because the vote is politically, socially or constitutionally ready, but because California needs to put right the contamination of hate that the people tried to put into their constitution.
This is a strategic battle for the hearts and minds of every American be they be living true to themselves in the Castro, or hiding from themselves filled with self loathing on the Focus on the Family church campus. There is no stronger signal that can be sent, than for California to vote unequivocally for equality.
We need some hope and a symbol, and thats why we need to put the repeal of Proposition 8 on the ballot in 2012. We can and we must take California back.