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.