Love Always Wins
On Election Day the people of California passed Propositions 2 and 8. Prop 2 provides protections for farm animals and passed by a landslide 63% to 37%. Proposition 8 which eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry, passed by a margin of 52.5% to 47.5%. It is a sad day when the people of California decide to protect farm animals with the one hand and with the other take away protections for their neighbors, colleagues, friends and families. But, I have faith in the people of my state. I have faith that they will come to see the beauty of equality.It’s the Thursday evening after California voted overwhelmingly to make Barack Obama our new president. As the echo’s of “Yes We Can” resonate throughout the days and months ahead, let’s understand the gains we’ve made in a very short period of time and gather ourselves for the next battle to winning full equality for all.
Eight years ago in 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22 by a margin of 61.4% to 38.6%. Prop 22 wrote into law that the State of California would only recognize the marriage of a man and a woman; same-sex marriages would not be recognized. On May 15 of this year, almost a full 8 years later, the California Supreme Court struck down Prop 22 and related California laws. In a 4-3 decision the California Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples had the constitutional right to marry. Since that decision became law, over 16,000 same-sex couples have been married in California including dear friends of mine.
Take a look at those numbers again. In the last 8 years we went from a 23% crushing defeat to losing by the margin of error in some of the latest polls (5%). In the last 8 years we have changed minds and gained allies. In the last 8 years we and our families have become more visible and more real to the people we see every day. By just living our lives openly and honestly, we have come very close to winning this battle for equal marriage rights.
When the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts ruled in favor of same-sex marriage in May 2004, our friends and families in Massachusetts had two years to fight the battle to keep same-sex marriage. They had two years to change minds through simple acts like shopping for engagement rings and more involved acts like getting allies elected to the state legislature. The good people of Massachusetts had two years to learn how much same-sex marriages enriched their communities.
We in California had 5 months. Five months to fight lies and fear mongering. Five months to help our potential allies see the beauty of our families. It was never going to be easy. Especially when our opponents fueled their campaign with $40 million worth of lies, distortions, and deceptions.
We have work to do. We have to keep our heads high and keep doing what we’ve been doing. Live our lives openly and honestly. Continue our marriage plans and hold those ceremonies to let people know that our lives continue, our bonds endure, and our resolve for full equality will never waiver.
Our anger and rage are useful tools. They give us the energy to move ahead when our bodies are weary and our emotions are raw. Use them wisely to kick start the next battle. When someone asks how you’re doing, take that moment to tell them what I told the president of my division today, “Happy we’ve got a president Obama. Disgusted that Prop 8 passed”. I found out I had an ally I didn’t know about before. Donate to the legal battle being brought by Lambda Legal http://www.lambdalegal.org, the National Center for Lesbian Rights http://www.nclrights.org, Equality California http://www.eqca.org and the ACLU http://www.aclu.org. Demonstrate and agitate (see http://www.eqca.org for info about demonstrations). Live openly and honestly.
As we leave this election behind, let’s also leave behind the finger pointing, circular firing squads, and recrimination. Instead, let’s learn from the exit polling, plan new strategies that build on our successes, and commit ourselves to the next battle on the path to full equality.
We will prevail for one simple reason. Love always wins.