Last weekend, when I read the Op-Ed by Jasmyne Cannick in the LA Times, on honeymoon with my husband Jeff no less, I got angry. Since then I had more time to think. Today I believe that funneling our energy into anger towards other minorities, is not only unjustified, but detracts us from the work that needs to be done. I’m also excited about the new found sense of outrage that brings us gays and lesbians and our friends out into the streets. It’s been a long time since we felt so united. Let’s keep it up.
If there was failure in the No-on-8 campaign, it was a failure of imagination. A failure to imagine that a majority of Californians would see our rights as unimportant and a failure to understand how easy it still is to scare voters. The comment “why aren’t they already over it” of a bystander at a recent demonstration as quoted in the LA-Times highlights how unaware some members of the majority are.
So if we let go of our anger for a moment, what is there to do? Let’s remember that school desegregation was not achieved through a popular vote, but through a ruling of the Supreme Court and under protection of the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army. Granted, Los Angeles is not Little Rock, Arkansas and it is 2008 and not 1957. However, the California constitution has an equal protection clause precisely so that minorities do not have to beg for permission from the majority to have equal access to the states institutions and services. That’s why I support the attempts to overturn proposition 8 in court.
In addition, because I know that court decisions are influenced by public opinion and because many California voters simply can’t imagine how important marriage is to us, we need to get personally involved. There are over 18,000 same-sex couples who got married in California since June. That’s 18,000 stories of love and commitment to share. Stories that have not been shared with the majority of the people who voted yes on proposition 8. Why not? Because we spend most of our time talking to our friends, families and colleagues who already know us. Because most of the demonstrations leading up to the elections were in gay-friendly places like West Hollywood. Yes, it is safer and easier to reach out to a friendly crowd. But was passing out flyers to voters in WeHo really the most effective way to defeat prop 8? The answer on November 4th was no.
How can we reach people we don’t know, don’t agree with and would rather not talk to? The list of donors to Yes-on-8 is a great start. The California Secretary of State maintains a website that lists all contributions in support and opposed to any proposition. Convenient to download as spread sheets. The database includes all information except street addresses. Though in most cases that can be fixed with a simple Google search. Have a look and educate yourself. If it is a business, vote with your money and don’t spend it there. That’s the least we can do. But I ask even more. I propose that we all start writing letters why gay marriage is important to us and send them to the supporters on proposition 8. This is not the time to vent but to share our stories and to tell them what it means to us to be married. To be equal and not separate.