Eyes on the Prize

I want to write some words of encouragement to my friends in California and across the world who experienced, like me, the very personal defeat of the passage of Proposition 8 last week. While I am disappointed in this result, I remain encouraged in the overarching victory of the election of Barack Obama as the next President of the United States. While we may have lost some battles that night, including Prop 8, Obama’s election bodes well for LGBT folks. Let’s take the long-term view.

Prop 8 succeeded in large part because of the final ugly push by the pro Prop 8 bigots that preyed on people’s basest fears and prejudices. The Prop 8 folks organized a last-minute effort of robocalls aimed primarily at African Americans and some Democrats who they knew would be supporting Barack Obama. I received one of these calls on Election Night on my cell phone which has a 415 area code (they must not have had in their notes that my wife and I were the second couple married at San Francisco City Hall in 2004). The calls featured an audio quote from Barack Obama where, in his own voice, he says that marriage is between one man and one woman, followed by another voice urging voters to vote yes on Prop 8.

Obama did not give permission for them to use his quote for this purpose, and he adamantly opposed Prop 8.  In response to the robocalls last week, Obama issued this statement:

As the Democratic nominee for President, I am proud to join with and support the LGBT community in an effort to set our nation on a course that recognizes LGBT Americans with full equality under the law…And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states. For too long, issues of LGBT rights have been exploited by those seeking to divide us. It’s time to move beyond polarization and live up to our founding promise of equality by treating all our citizens with dignity and respect. This is no less than a core issue about who we are as Democrats and as Americans.

When has any other candidate seeking the Office of the President came out with an unequivocally supportive statement of gay rights like this? And for the first time in history, a President Elect said the word “gay” out loud in his acceptance speech.

It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled — Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America.

It is a new day, and I am ever hopeful that we will have equal rights one day soon.

6 thoughts on “Eyes on the Prize

  1. Pingback: Forces of Nature

  2. prop8discussion

    i am sorry for your loss. i voted yes on prop 8 because i see marriage as our society’s ultimate expression of equality: it takes one woman and one man. i don’t care if same-gender couples have a wedding, have domestic partnerships, but I do care if the government is interested in changing the definition.

    I’m not a bigot for believing that marriage should be between a man and a woman.

    I love homosexual people. They are my friends. But some things are more important than “love” or sexual expression.

    peace out.

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  3. I can see that you are well-meaning, if misguided. I beg to differ with you and posit that your sentiments are indeed prejudiced. We are not trying to change the definition of marriage. We are fighting for equal rights. “Separate but equal” is a fallacy and a failure, and we want to be recognized and respected as families and equal participants in society. Granting marriage equality to us harms no one.

    Your assertion that love in quotations is less important than “some things” indicates to me that you see same sex unions as less-than, of less value than heterosexual marriage. This right here is your prejudice, and yes, bigotry.

    One day this will all be behind us, and people will shake their heads in disbelief that it took us so long to achieve marriage equality.

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  4. Daniel

    prop8discussion,

    What does equal protection mean to you?

    “…No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

    http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Am14

    I think it is quite clear proposition 8 has violated the U.S. Constitution to the very letter of the fourteenth amendment.

    Also, we live in an open society. That means our laws are normative. God did not come down from the clouds and write U.S. laws. There is a clear separation of church and state. If your religious views don’t happen to agree with an open society, then you should consider what it means to live in a society that is not open; whose laws *are* derived from religion and actively interpreted by religious representatives.

    Instead, we need to look at issues with ‘reason’. There has not been one ‘reasonable’ argument ever made against gay marriage. Every single argument either falls back on religion or “values”. If your argument falls in the latter half, then consider your values mean little unless you can make a rational argument to support them. Look deep and try to find a normative reason to have voted as you did. I doubt you will find one. Actually, I am certain you will fine none. And many decades from now, you may find yourself quite ashamed as many people now do for opposing civil rights with respect to African Americans.

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