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 (http://www.gao.gov/archive/
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 (http://www.hrc.org/) 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 (http://www.hrc.org/
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.