Sunday, November 9, 2008

California Update: Farm Animals Gain Rights, LGBT People Lose Them

My Zimbio
Top Stories The post-election dust continues to settle here in California. And one of the thoughts going through our minds is that more than half (but not much more) of those citizens who stirred themselves long enough to vote, hate us. Us being LGBT people who wish to marry. With all the other election day choices they had to make that impact their economic and environmental well-being, and there are many, California voters chose to spend a few moments in the voting booth messing with our personal lives by voting in favor of Proposition 8 which specifies that marriage can only be between a man and a woman. Our cozy little, non-religious wedding, complete with corny groom-groom cake topper and champagne toasts was bitch slapped to the curb by the slick, totally inaccurate Yes on 8 ad campaign that focused on impressionable youngsters being force fed gay marriage in schools. The visuals were compelling; worried parents sitting on a couch clutching protectively at their offspring. On our side we had the much beloved (by some) but dowdy Dianne Feinstein talking about our legal rights. Excuse me while I go out and get another beer.

Then we had the No on 8 people who, it appears, made a conscious effort to not show any gay people in their ads. Were they afraid that the general population wasn’t ready to see two men or two women on the same TV screen who may have, in the recent past, had sex with one another and may commit the act again in the near future? Not being political strategists, we couldn’t say. But after observing and participating in gay causes for thirty years it smacks of some scary form of self censorship. Well-meaning allies have used the “they’re not ready” argument to try and hold back LGBT progress at each and every juncture. They’re not ready for gay teachers, they’re not ready for anti-discrimination legislation, they’re not ready for domestic partner benefits.

Even though Barack Obama has publicly stated his belief that marriage should be between a man and women, we voted for him. Obama has a great opportunity to create positive change in this country. Whether that change comes to pass, however, is still very much up for grabs—he is, after all a politician. We hope that he we will see the error of his ways and realize that denying rights to one segment of the population diminishes everyone. In addition, a whole host of people you’d think would be our allies plus others you know will never be, joined forces to pass Proposition 8. It’s up to us to do the outreach and education necessary to make a difference, change isn’t going to happen all by itself. And if we wait until people are ready we’ll be waiting a very long time.

All of this is a timely reminder that as we continue to work on the Rights of Passage project, there are stories not only in far flung lands but some much closer to home that act as a reminder that LGBT discrimination is alive and well in our own backyard, progress has been made over the years and much more still needs to be done.

Photo from LATimesblog.

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