We didn't think it could really happen. The court handed down a compelling decision, the weddings had begun, photos were spreading, presents were streaming in, joy was contagious. This is California, we are safe. A few Facebook notes and status updates, along with perhaps a donation or two, would suffice in maintaining our civil rights. Nevermind only our like-minded friends read our Facebook and our blogs. Nevermind the polls. Nevermind the Mormon Church. There were rallies in West Hollywood and San Fransisco. Gavin Newsom gave a speech. “It's here whether you like it or not,” we were promised. We could observe from a distance, from the comfort of our living rooms, safely removed by a computer monitor.
But it did happen, didn't it? Five million one hundred sixty three thousand nine hundred eight people voted in favor of Proposition 8. Five million! Can you even wrap your mind around that number? I cannot. And here's the rub: those five million people aren't bad people, some of them even have gay friends. Five million Californians decided that it was good conscience and a good use of government to remove my constitutional equality and deny me marriage. Many (most?) of them may have felt this position is in line with the way the world is or should be—heterosexual relationships only.
And so today I'm not angry—I'm not going to yell about the bigots—I am challenged. There are five million people in the state of California that I have not reached. They do not know me and know what I bring to our community. Worse, they felt compelled to vote against fundamental rights for other humans. That is an awful place to be.
As I begin to wrap my mind around what Proposition 8 means for myself, my future relationships, my friends, and my country, I pause. Facebook status updates and blog posts were not enough to stave off Proposition 8, I cannot allow myself to believe that they will undo it. If history has anything to teach us, it is that great change does not come without great sacrifice--time, comfort, money, energy. Reaching out to Latino Catholics, Republicans in Central CA, Mormon neighbors, anti-gay co-workers, our sweet but uninformed grandparents, our cousins, even our vaguely supportive friends, and on and on; not with posters, stickers, signs or chants but with relationships and over shared meals and experiences. Deep connections, real enrollment. This is my plea to queer folks and our friends: do not update your Facebook status anymore about Prop 8, do not write another blog post about how insulted, offended, hurt, betrayed or disappointed you are. Take those feelings and that time and channel them toward the five million Californians who failed to connect with your humanity.
This is what I am going to do:
- Write a card to all of my queer married friends in California, expressing my love and support
- Host a small group at my church to unpack the decision, convey its effects, and further the movement toward acceptance and advocacy within our denomination.
- Visit my elected officials to enroll their support for marriage equality in my state and return to visit as often.