My old friend (one of the oldest; we were actually in junior high together, though we didn't really know each other till high school) David, who's generally all laid back, sent me what he posted on MySpace (which I forget to look at, though I'm very good about my Facebook page). On election day, he was the first to his poll on Valencia Street in San Francisco. And for us, that day went very well indeed, except for the passing of Proposition 8 in California, which took away the rights of same-sex couples to marry. He gave me permission to post this:
Let's admit that the "No on 8" campaign was not waged with any particular intelligence. I don't want to point fingers at this point because it's not useful. Suffice to say that the "Yes on 8" campaign ran a very slimy and completely misleading campaign promulgating outright lies.
Ultimately I think the community needs to get away from fighting hate with hate. Calling everyone who voted for Proposition 8 a "bigot" gets us nowhere. The majority of the people who voted "yes" were responding to the lies and fear tactics of that campaign. We needed to educate these people and we failed. If parents think we're going to try to indoctrinate their children and cause them to become homosexuals, they are obviously going to vote against us. If women fear that their husbands will be stolen from them, they are going to vote against us.
We need to react to their hatred and fear with understanding and education. If we had educated people about some of the supporters of this proposition we would have probably been more successful. For example, if more people had known that the millionaires who donated huge sums to the campaign are on a mission to undermine the constitution and replace it entirely, many voters might have had second thoughts before they voted "yes."
We need to portray the supporters of that proposition as being part of a dangerous fringe of society that threatens the rights and freedoms of EVERYONE. Our modus cannot be one of resorting to the same sorts of tactics that they employ. If people had known that Howard F. Ahmanson Jr., supports stoning gay people, it would have shown them what a disturbed man he truly is, and perhaps gotten them on our side. If it had only been the bigoted right-wing fringe voting for the proposition it would certainly not have won. Yes, they were well organized, and yes they appealed to ignorance and fear. But calling the people who are part of that fringe names is not productive. Our next campaign must be one of educating all those who were too ignorant to have known better. We need to start now and not wait until the next election.
And by all means let's use African Americans, Asians, and Latinos to tell our story. If we show a broad spectrum of folks from different ethnic minorities who are supporting us, we stand a much better chance of winning. This next push needs be an inclusive fight not just for gay rights, but for human rights.
I'm of the same mind. It's appalling that a majority of voters -- however slight -- can be persuaded that it's a good idea to take away the rights of some of their fellow citizens,* but the world has been shifting, the nation has been shifting, things change, and I believe that even the recent losses of gay rights in the last election are part of what will turn out to be some of the last swings of the pendulum away from rights, and we will be moving back towards them. When Clinton took office, the majority of Americans didn't think that gays should serve in the military. Now, 75% of Americans think that of course gays should be able to serve in the military -- and that figure includes conservatives and evangelicals.
So definitely, there are things to do. Definitely, as David writes, we're needing to educate. Across the nation, on Saturday, November 15, there will be co-ordinated demonstrations against Proposition 8 -- it was a California proposition, but it's a national issue. Here in Pennsylvania, we're WAY further away from allowing same-sex marriages than California. But it's our issue, too.
Here's where you can find information on demonstration times and places in your area of America.
And all you buddies of ours out there in other countries -- such as Canada, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Belgium, and the Netherlands (which allow same-sex marriage); and Sweden, the United Kingdom, Germany, Andorra, Switzerland, France, Uruguay, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Ecuador, New Zealand, Luxembourg, Slovenia (which allow civil unions) -- hang in there. Pray for us. We'll get there.
*The passing of Proposition 8 in California wasn't the most egregious violation of gay rights on election day. That'd be the passing of a bill in Arkansas limiting adoption and fostering rights to married couples. This also will probably not stand up to lawsuits. But what an incredible, willful, short-sighted vote.