Today was a national day of action protesting the passage Prop. 8 which takes away the right to marry that the court had found gay men and lesbians to possess under the pre-discriminatory, pre-8 constitution of the State of California. (And protesting other discriminatory laws voted in this historic election.) Everyone I knew was going over to San Francisco (if they didn’t already live there) or going over to Oakland (if they didn’t already live there). Angie, Leo, Charlie and I went to Berkeley. It was a nicely timed action–pre-nap–and nicely placed, right beside the Farmer’s Market where we go most Saturday mornings anyway to buy stone fruit and eat organic Thai food. To my surprise, there were maybe a couple of hundred people there. It was quite impressive. I couldn’t help but wonder where all these people were when Angie and Scott were alone on the overpass before the election trying to get the message out.
Angie says (referencing success guru Tony Robbins) that it is easier to pursue someone who has stolen $25,000 dollars from you than it is to work to save $25,000. In other words, people will put enormous effort into recovering something that has been taken away, even when they shirk the same effort that will save it in the first place. Is this true? I’ve certainly known a person or two who was like that when it came to relationships . . .
I don’t really know that these people weren’t standing on street corners, making phone calls and donating money before the election. I do know that we feel that we could have done more. I think it felt a lot worse to lose the right to be married than I expected it would. An old friend wrote with a historic perspective on how far we’ve come, etc. etc., and I know that is true. I know that we will have the right to marry, probably in my lifetime. But having your rights stripped still feels frightening as well as infuriating. The last time my people (different group) had their rights stripped, it was prelude to genocide.
So that’s the dark note. But today, people did turn out–all over the country. My mother is visiting Washington, D.C., and she went to a protest there in the pouring rain.
Just now, I went trolling over to Andrew Sullivan’s blog to see if I could dredge up his comments about not getting so caught up in this loss, but instead taking a more historical perspective. Instead, I was treated to a world tour of people in cities and small towns who came out today to protest for civil rights!
I got all excited. How amazing to see this become an international movement. I have to say, I am also loving having an electronic community. This morning, my old friend Becky, from college, was briefly in town and stopped by to have breakfast. We are in touch with so many of our friends and comrades from college now, via Facebook: it’s time to plan a big reunion for our collective houses and activist groups from back in the day. Since we don’t all stay in the same town we grew up in (and please note that I am writing from the house my parents were living in when I was born), our tribal minds get a little lost in all this coming and going. But now I get to tuck myself in each night with bedtime stories and sweet dream status updates from people I have loved for a long, long time. And all around the world, people came out to say: this is what the world is going to look like, and you (H8ers) can’t stop it.
And it feels different, in fact. Everywhere I go, I have the feeling that people recognize my family in a way that they didn’t always before. They may have voted against us, but we aren’t invisible anymore, and that makes a big difference. Because to know us is to love us . . . Actually, just because it is exhausting to have to explain oneself all the time or let oneself be invisible. The Mormon Church just spent $19 million dollars educating Californians on the fact that there are all kinds of lesbians and gay men who get married and have children. It isn’t radical, in one profound way, but it is a heck of a lot more comfortable than being asked (as one woman who knew we were “a two-mom family” asked us), are you sisters?
(Now I have to slog out another 1500 words on my novel of the month. More on writing in my next blog and at http://www.elizabethstark.com plus courses and community . . .)