Thoughts on Prop 8 by Cindy

No on Prop 8, originally uploaded by HBC4511.

The following was written by my friend Cindy who is moving to Canada “in order to live with her partner because immigration is regulated by the federal government, and it will not recognize her marriage so that she can sponsor her partner to immigrate.”


Thoughts on the passage of Proposition 8 in California

November 6, 2008

Two nights ago, I celebrated as my country elected Barack Obama to be our 44th president. It was a great day for democracy, with 64 percent of registered voters turning out, a majority of whom voted for a candidate who ran a campaign based on bringing the disparate pieces of our country together rather than exacerbating the existing divides. A few hours after the presidential election was called, it became apparent, however, that California’s Proposition 8 was expected to pass, taking away the right of gay people to marry in the state.

Yesterday, I watched my friends – gay and straight – lament the loss in California while also celebrating the presidential victory. My gay friends were particularly disheartened, wondering how this could happen, how people could hate us so much as to take away this right. I, too, am disappointed by the results in California. Defeating this proposal would have been a tremendous victory for gay rights in our country. But I am feeling mostly optimistic about what is to come. While it would have been wonderful to see this passed by popular vote, minority rights have historically been won in the courts. Starting in January, we will have a president who is more likely than perhaps any president who has come before him to appoint judges who will uphold gay rights.


In the meantime, we have our work cut out for us. Grab your anger and your disappointment and turn it into action. Here are some things that we can all do, whether we are gay or straight. Let’s get to work. Continues after the jump.


Educate. Tell people why this right is important. Engage them in conversation. If they imply that marriage rights do not have real effects on people’s lives, tell them that your friend has to move to Canada in order to live with her partner because immigration is regulated by the federal government, and it will not recognize her marriage so that she can sponsor her partner to immigrate. I cannot tell you how many very educated and smart people have said to me, “Why don’t you just get married in Massachusetts so that she can immigrate?” It doesn’t work like that. But if you don’t tell people, they won’t know. If you don’t know how marriage rights affect people in a real way, do some research and get educated. A good starting point to understand the legal and economic benefits of marriage is the document ( drawn up by the GAO when the US Congress enacted the “Defense of Marriage Act” in 1997.


Write. Write down your thoughts about how you feel about the passing of laws like Proposition 8. Send them to your local newspaper as a letter to the editor. Send them to President-Elect Obama. Send them to everyone you know, including those who you think would have voted to pass such legislation, because sometimes people will surprise you. I had to hold back tears a few weeks ago when a friend of mine who is Mormon called me to tell me that he didn’t want me to group him with the Mormon Church, that he opposed Proposition 8 and was upset that his church was urging its members to donate money to support it. And “beliefs” can change. Two years ago, a person in my family told me she just “believed” gay marriage was wrong. A year ago, I told my family that I had realized I am gay. This summer she told me that she was so excited when California made gay marriage legal because she thought of me.


Vote. Vote in all elections, big or small, and research the candidates’ views on gay marriage before you make your decision. If candidates that you otherwise like have taken a stand against gay marriage, call their offices and ask them to change their position. Ask people you know to do the same.


Stay informed. Put yourself on email list for groups such as the Human Rights Campaign ( or your state’s marriage equality group so that you can stay informed about issues related to gay rights. HRC also puts out an annual publication that rates companies on their policies toward gay people ( Give your business to companies that support gay rights and don’t give it to those that don’t. Tell them why they have gained or lost your business.

Keep the faith. Remember that bigots are disproportionately old and old people die at higher rates than young people; young voters in California voted overwhelmingly against Proposition 8. The future looks bright.

38 Comment

  • here here. the tide is changing. The efforts to stop it will win a battle or two but be assured they will lose the war. Obama will see to that. Obamas victory proved nobody needs to answer to the christian right yahoos any longer. Their political capital has been spent. they and their cultish ignorance will fizzle and die in time.

  • Cindy that was really great! I loved this post, and I am so sorry that you have to move away from your friends and family. I hope Canada ends up feeling like a home-Best of luck to you both!

  • Anon, I agree. It will be a long, pitched battle though. The Christian Right has the support of black churches and older and more conservative democrats (ie people who think it’s “gross” and thus they vote to deny equal rights based on that…). It could take another 10-15 years, perhaps even more.

    For now, I am content with incremental change that Obama’s victory provides. The rest will come in due time.

  • I am a believer in Jesus as the Messiah. He is the Lord of my life. But I am so sick of the ignorant, bigotted so-called Christian right. And they don’t have as much support as one may think among African American Christians, who see the racism and small minded ignorance of these people. They embarrass me and I’m so glad to see their national influence waning. As for gay marriage, what’s so wrong with love? Though I wouldn’t want churches forced to marry gays, why not let people civilly marry?

  • I am a little torn on gay marriage because I do not want to give the church any more validity. I would rather see sacred marriage, as defined by the church, stripped of any legal rights so that it would mean as little or as much to someone as a baptism, bris, whatever, but mean absolutely nothing to the state. If the church doesnt want to marry two women or two men, thats fine, but the state WILL grant their union and judge it exactly the same as it judges the union that it grants to a man/woman couple. Let the church have its traditions and ceremonies, but dont let its rules dictate the streets. We should be pushing for state regulated unions for all, not for the church bestow its silly titles to all applicants.

  • I completely agree that it is awful that this bill passed. However, just want to point out that this is completely unrelated, except in a very general civil rights sort of way, to the immigration implications. Either way, the federal government’s regulations on immigration would have not changed. Which all just shows that more change is needed to expand the rights of homosexuals, both in state and federal government, including for immigration. But the issues are legally completely seperate. (We have discussed this exact issue in my Immigration Law course).

  • I, too, am disappointed in California. And really, in Barack Obama. I know he didn’t support the amendment, but he also doesn’t support gay marriage. He’ll clearly be better for the cause than most, but still, really Barack?

    Anonymous: interestingly, African Americans voted in favor of Prop 8 at a much higher rate than any other ethnic group. Dan Savage:

  • It is hard to believe that a state that overwhelmingly voted for Obama, and thereby ‘change,’ would vote against this bill. Personally, I have major issues with government involvement in any sort of social issue. With respect to this specific issue, I don’t understand why anyone would try to prevent two people, who love each other, from being able to legally celebrate/bind that love. Don’t even get me started on the gay adoption prop that was struck down, too….ARGH.

  • “Although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman.”
    – Barack Obama

  • Sorry, hit send too soon on my previous post.

    The point of posting that quotation was to say that we have much work to do. Possibly more than many people would instinctively assume.

  • I believe firmly that anybody should be able to get married. Gay, straight, or other. Marriage is between individuals, and whomever they choose to marry them.

    However, marriage is not a civil right. The state has no business recognizing or not recognizing marriages. If the state wants to grant certain benefits or impose certain requirements on committed couples, they should do so under civil commitment statutes, like most states and localities do for non-straight couples.

    Gays and lesbians and others in committed relationships should get all the same benefits and requirements that straight couples have and get, and in most cases they do, it’s just not called “marriage” by the state. While I’d prefer it if the state didn’t call any of these relationships marriages and referred to all of them, gay, straight or other as “civil commitments”, I don’t think the state is out of bounds by limited “marriage” to a particular group of citizens.

    As long as everyone in a committed relationship is getting the same rights and responsibilities, the rest is a red herring.

  • As for Barack Obama not being for gay marriage, I have to believe it’s for political purposes only. I have to believe his personal belief is for equality for everyone, especially when it comes to gay rights. However, he would have been characterized as the “crazy liberal” candidate in the presidential election even more that he was if he had come out in support of gay marriage. Don’t I wish we lived in a world where he could come out for gay marriage and get elected, but right now, I don’t think we do.

    I hope the courts in CA can reverse this. What a devastating loss.

  • im agreeing with U Street girl here. His comments dont seem consistent with his beliefs but DO seem consistant with a man running for the highest office. He will champion gay rights now that its official. he had a shout out to the gays in the first line of his acceptance speech.

  • Of course I believe it was for political purposes. And I’m ecstatic about Obama as our next president, and I really hope he becomes a champion for gay marriage. But it doesn’t really excuse it….especially with Prop 8 was on the line… The Yes on Prop 8 people immediately turned around and used it in their successful campaign.

    ANYWAY. I found this election really bittersweet. I was celebrating outside the white house until the wee hours tuesday morning, and came home to find Prop 8 had passed. I was extremely upset with my fellow Californians. The CA referendum system is unbelievable. That you can change the constitution with 50% +1 is the ultimate example of tyranny of the majority. Plato, DeToqueville, Mill, the Federalists all figured it out, why can’t California?

  • Don’t expect Obama to lead this charge. His supporters in California voted for Prop 8 and that is pretty well documented in exit polls. The Gay Marriage folks need to reach out to African-Americans who, as a religious community, are notoriously intolerant.

  • I hear you JessinMtP, I am from MA and when all the crazy religious right types (yes they do exist in MA, or at least they drove to MA) wanted a referendum on the ballot, and then a ban on the state constitution, the Massachusetts legislature were able to block it.

    This might be a radical point of view, but I believe for some instances, especially when it comes to laws concerning equality, the people shouldn’t be able to choose, it should be in the hands of the court and the legislature. For instance, does anyone really think the civil rights bill would have passed if there were a nationwide referendum on it?

  • U Street Girl:

    That’s not a radical point of view at all. It’s classical “small d” democrat.

  • If he will lie about something like this, then I am much less excited than I would be otherwise.

  • My partner and I moved to Petworth from Va after the 3000 dollars in contracts, wills, and legal agreements became null and void when they passed their round of anti gay laws. Make no mistake there is no substitute for legal marriage, especially if you have a family that would challenge you will if you were to die.

  • For people who claim to be open minded, some of you sure are making strong statements about the religious-right (aka people you disagree with politically).

    you are proving yourselves to be hypocrites.

  • The passing of Prop 8 was a wet comforter on my Obama buzz.
    I’m not gay, but just about all my friends are, and I feel as if I’m a white civil rights activist during the civil rights movement telling my black friends “Don’t worry, you’ll have the same rights as me one day.”
    I don’t understand how a state who voted Obama in also voted to take rights away.

    re:>”For instance, does anyone really think the civil rights bill would have passed if there were a nationwide referendum on it?”

    Excellent point, u st. gal – civil rights should not be decided by a popular vote. And popular vote really shouldn’t be used to overturn a State Supreme Court decision.

  • NateG – I recognize your point and it is a valid one. However, I think the majority of ire toward the religious right is pretty well deserved.

    Not too many people here would object to the “moral majority’s” constitutional right to hold such staunch and starch opinions while enjoying all due personal freedoms in the process. I cannot say the same for my political adversaries.

    Rather than applying these beliefs within their own lives and the religious right have adopted a militant effort to export their hatred upon the rest of the population.

    If they choose to define marriage as a union between 1 man and 1 woman thats fine. However, it should stop there within their own personal social institutions. I’m not asking them to agree with me, I ask that the respectively recognize our collective constitutional right to disagree and natural right to love who we choose and act accordingly.

  • Another thing the religious right has been doing that shows their true colors is their anti-immigration stance. Ironic, because many immigrants from Latin America are deeply religious and quite socially conservative. But these nut jobs are so racist.

  • Pro-immigrant… dont you see that your hateful, bigoted comments make you just as bad as a religious right-winger who hates alternate lifestyles?

  • How is this position confined to the religious right when President Obama is saying the same thing?

    Binklesworth said: I don’t understand how a state who voted Obama in also voted to take rights away.

    Because, apparantly, Obama feels the same way.

    (sorry to sound like I’m angry at you guys; just frustrated)

  • James,

    Obama was against prop 8, though he surely isn’t as progressive on such issues as I’d like.

  • I’m going to be the lone dissenter here: I’m with Barack on this one.

    I’m a true blue liberal – i probably knocked on 500 doors for Obama and spent 500 hours volunteering. I have close gay friends, etc. I would totally support a civil arrangement legally bonding two individuals, whether they’re sexually involved or not. they do that in France, no? but i think the gay community is over-reaching by insisting on “marriage” as opposed to the legal equivalent. after all, isn’t pushing “marriage” an attempt to mainstream and normalize gay relationships? And, really, being gay means you’re not “normal,” at least according to queer studies lit i’ve read (and the last pride parade i went to).

  • As an African American, it hurts me that far too many of “us” are so against same sex marriage. I wish that this same fervent tide was as pissed about -oh-black on black crime…

  • Flipfloppirate said “If they choose to define marriage as a union between 1 man and 1 woman thats fine. However, it should stop there within their own personal social institutions.”

    I am a Democrat, I voted for Obama, but I didn’t want Prop 8 passed, and here is why. California was intent on making it illegal for any non-profit organization to discriminate against gay marriage, and therefore could have potentially required ALL churches not only to accept gay marriage but also to perform them, regardless of their belief system.

    Last I checked, my ancestors gave up titles and came to the new world so the government couldn’t tell religion what to do.

  • NateG: I think what irks a lot of people is a vocal portion of the “religious right” who have staked a claim based on aggressive stands on abortion rights and gay rights. These “busybody” issues didn’t exist until people on the right created them. A cynical person might say they were created by the Atwaters and Roves of the world to get people to vote for candidates who would otherwise ignore them, and it may be unfair for everyone with conservative religious beliefs to be painted with the same brush, but at the same time I don’t see a lot of fundamentalist Christians speaking up about bigotry and hatred against gays. There’s very little WWJD out there. The bottom line is that our Constitution protects a fundamentalist’s right to believe that homosexuality is wrong, and to state so, but it doesn’t allow that same person to foist that belief on the rest of us by law, that violates the establishment clause and, quite frankly, is obnoxious.

    P.S. Anon @ 4:23: Churches would NOT have to do any such thing unless they except federal funds. Those half-truths are false. You can exclude gays all day long as long as you don’t suck on the public teat, just as my alma mater Baylor used to deny women the right to participate in certain activities until they started taking federal funds. Then those icky girls were allowed to run wild. Ruint the whole dern school. 😉

  • Cindy, my best wishes to you. Like most struggles for civil rights in this country, it will take time and perhaps even a generation or two of struggle for our society to accept gay marriage. I’ve heard plenty of quotes this week from older folks who said they didn’t think they would live to see a black person elected President in their lifetime — as Tuesday has proven, there is hope!

    NateG, I understand the point you would like to make here, but the argument about gay marriage is a civil rights issue, and I don’t think it’s a contradiction of being open-minded to be in support of equal rights for all Americans and to be frustrated and in opposition with those who seek to limit rights for a certain class of people based on their own personal beliefs.

    And to [email protected]:01, there is no “legal equivalent” to marriage afforded to gay couples — sure they can (assuming they can affford lawyers) enter all kinds of civil union/partnership/other legal contracts — and then they can still in some states have their children taken away from them or have their partnerships legally challenged by “real” family in the event their partner is incapacitated or passes away.

    Don’t get me started on immigration laws…

  • 4:01. I am normal and don’t judge me by gay pride parades and I won’t judge you by stereotyping you. Maybe your lot of gay friends embrace the bizarre side of gay life but mine don’t. Your statement stinks of bigotry even if you have friends who are hat

  • saf

    “California was intent on making it illegal for any non-profit organization to discriminate against gay marriage, and therefore could have potentially required ALL churches not only to accept gay marriage but also to perform them, regardless of their belief system.”

    Not true. Churches are not required to perform hetero marriages that are against their belief system. Same for homo marriages.

    The fact is, the law can only regulate civil marriage.

  • I really wish people would stop turning the debate into an issue over the term “marriage”. It is a vague term in the U.S., which can be used to mean a legally recognized union and/or a religious union. Most of the straight people I know among my friends (25 – 35 ish) have civil marriages only. I feel like quibbling over what to call the union is a little absurd – if religious gays and lesbians want to take up the issue of tolerance and love with their respective religions, good for them – with ballot issues, we are simply talking about something else, which are equal civil rights.

  • using NateG’s logic, opposing Hitler’s views on Jews makes one a non-open-minded hypocrite.

  • Hear hear, Lau. I just want equal rights – as long as the law refers to unions as “marriage,” I will want access to “marriage.” Once benefits have been extended to all, I am happy to join the cause to change the name to civil union or any other term for that matter. In the meantime, it seems like a huge distraction to worry about whether religions and civil authorities use the same word or not. We need to keep our eyes on the prize, and the prize is the package of rights currently refered to as marriage.

  • using anon’s logic it is ok to generalize obout people you disagree with, and get upset when they do the same to you.

    a good example of that would be you comparing nazi germany to the religious right. nice dude.

  • DCDireWolf – actually marriage has been recognized as a civil right in this country, which makes this vote even more digusting. The Supreme Court ruled in a case involving the marriage rights of incarcerated felons that states cannot prevent them from marrying, even while in prison. So, ironically, the state of California will no longer recognize the rights of same-gender couples, but both Menendez brothers, who slaughtered their parents for a couple of million dollars (and shot their mother in the back as she fled for her life), are both still legally married in that state. Truly disgusting.

Comments are closed.