Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dear California voters: Let me introduce you to two of the people whose rights you want to strip away.

Dear California Voters who Supported Prop 8 -

I realize that to you gay marriage must rank up there with bad things like storms of locusts and boils and bloody plagues and a second season of The Bionic Woman. I get it. Somehow the idea that two gay people who love one another and whom would like the right to be able to become legally committed to one another is abhorrent to you. I'm also guessing that most of you who voted for Prop 8 don't actually know any gay couples. How do I know this? Because it's always easier to dehumanize someone and take away their civil rights if they don't really exist to you.

So, with their permission, let me introduce you to one of the married gay couples whose civil rights you're working so tirelessly to strip away:

This is my baby brother Craig (on the right) and his husband Jack (left). They've been together as a monogamous couple for more than fifteen years. Longer, in fact, that most heterosexual couples that I know.

So what can I tell you about these two big scary homos, hmmm? Well, when he was a kid, Craig had a love affair with the Titanic and all big ocean liners. He collected Titanic books and memorabilia and had Cunard and White Star Line posters all over his room. Now, as an adult, he actually gets to sail on all those big ships he loved as a kid; he and Jack go on several cruises every year. (I kinda don't get the whole cruise ship thing so I tend to tease them mercilessly about it, but hey, they don't understand my love of San Diego Comic-Con, so I guess we're about even.)

And Jack? Jack loves car races. He's an unapologetic Nascar fan (yes, gay Nascar fans exist - shocking!), and has an enormous collection of Matchbox cars that he's had since he was a kid. Craig and Jack both love Christmas; they go nuts every year decorating their house for the holidays and they create spectacular and realistic tableaus for their huge collection of Department 56 Dickens houses. (They also both have questionable taste in sweaters on occasion, but I suspect that's from being exposed too early to The Cosby Show. Shhh! Don't tell them I said anything.)

Jack and Craig were introduced by Craig's friend Eileen, who has been one of his best friends since eighth grade. (Totally heterosexual, in case you were wondering.) They were married fifteen years later in Eileen's backyard, surrounded by friends and family (and margaritas). It was a wonderful day.

And you've been trying your damnedest to invalidate all of that. Why?

No, I don't really think that this post will change your minds. Bigotry is a pretty ingrained mindset. But I thought I'd at least remind you that the people whose lives you're fucking with? The men and women you're choosing to relegate to the status of second-class citizen? Well, they're actual human beings.

Fed up with the hate,


PS: If there are any other gay couples out there - married or otherwise - who'd like to come forward and introduce themselves, feel free to drop me an email with a photo and your story. I'd be happy to post it here.


Dharma Kelleher said...

Through the victory of President-Elect Obama, a great step has been made toward the dream of equality. I am proud to say that I voted for him and truly believe he will be a great president.

That said, the dream of equality also took some serious hits. Voters in Arizona (my home state), Florida and California have approved ballot measures banning gay marriage. And Arkansas has approved a measure banning gay adoption.

As a society and a nation, our hands may be free, but our feet remain shackled. The abomination of hate continues to deny all people the dream of freedom, because as Dr. King so aptly put it, "No man is free until all men are free."

Hate is a sneaky demon. It lurks deep in our hearts, disguised as righteous indignation and moral outrage. It hides in our religiosity, in our cultural biases, in our attachments to tradition and in our personal insecurities.

We cannot let these temporary defeats keep us from our mission to banish hate and bring equality to all people. Even the march toward racial equality faced brutal setbacks in the forms of the Dred Scott Decision and Plessey v. Ferguson. And now those hateful decisions are relegated to the history books and no longer on the law books.

It took 150 years from the Declaration of Independence to 1920 before women were granted the right to vote in this country. And they constituted half the population.

It took centuries on these shores before the descendants of the first slaves were freed by President Lincoln. It took nearly another century before Brown v. Board of Education declared that separate was not equal. It took another decade yet before the Civil Rights Acts and the Voting Rights Act were passed in the 1960s. And finally another forty years before the first African-American president was elected.

We may not see marriage equality in our lifetime. But we stand with the millions who came before us working towards the dream of freedom and equality. We are not alone and our efforts are not in vain.

Bear in mind that it will not be sufficient to hold rallies, preaching to the converted. It will not be enough to donate money to pay for ads on TV. We must search our own hearts for the hatred that lurks deep. We must free ourselves of anger and violence towards those who persecute us. Only by opening our own hearts can we ever hope to open the closed hearts of others.

Our enemy is not the hater but hate itself. It is a demon whose mission is to rob us of our joy. And we must exorcise ourselves of this demon as individuals and as a people. We must be ever vigilant in this because hate is subtle and insidious. It will whisper to you that it is gone even as it reshapes itself as false morality.

To remove the shackles that remain, we must practice the way of peace. We must not simply teach compassion. we must live it. We must Practice Empathy And Compassion Everywhere. In doing so, we will give hate no place to hide. We will shine the light of love on every corner of our psyche as well as our society.

Last night, we elected a president who stands for hope. He may not support our efforts for marriage equality, still it is another step in that direction. I believe he is a wise and compassionate man who may yet work towards helping us all remove the shackles that remain.

Dharma Kelleher

Jeff said...

It is depressing to think so many people could still be so filled with hate. You almost kind of expect this kind of ignorant shit where I live - Mississippi - so it is doubly surprising to find it in California.

Anna the Piper said...

Thank you very much for this post.

I am honored to make the acquaintance of Craig and Jack, even if secondhand and virtual. Congratulations to them both from the Puget Sound.

Morgan Dempsey said...

I'm a California voter and I've no problem saying I'm absolutely ashamed of my state right now. I thought we were better than this.

I want to feel joy over Obama's success, but last night I cried over the bigotry still thriving in this nation. I still feel near-tears, even now.

Bobbie said...

Thanks for introducing your brother and brother-in-law to us. That was a beautiful post.

I don't live in California and I'm not gay, but my sister (and best friend) is, so the passing of Proposition 8 upsets me. She and her partner have not been together as long as Craig and Jack, but I have no doubt that they are no less committed to their relationship than my husband and I are to ours. And if they were to get married, I would be thrilled and honored to attend their ceremony. I'm sorry that's looking less likely for them now. I'm sorry for all of us, really.

Regardless, I still call my sister's partner my sister-in-law. She deserves that name. I just wish the rest of the world agreed.

Cory said...

I've been following Prop 8 from Amsterdam. Needless to say, I'm incredibly disappointed, saddened, and pissed off all at the same time. I wish your brother and his husband, and all other couples affected, the best of luck with whatever happens.

Ryan Field said...

I'm with my partner seventeen years. We met in college when we were both only nineteen years old.
We live in the prgressive community of New Hope, PA, where there are many, *many* more couples just like us. My partner worked in corporate sales for fifteen years and now works in real estate. I'm a published romance writer with many pen names and I have a fantastic, smart agent who never stops working. I've worked as a journalist and started out as an associate editor with Conde Nast in New York.

My bother lives in Manhattan, not far from Magnolia Bakery, with his partner of twenty years and they own and operate a well known designer gallery in the East Sixties.

My two wonderful friends from Brooklyn, Sue and Joan, own an apartment on Remsen Street and a house in New Hope. They have been together for twenty years.

I could go on...but the point is that people need to understand we're here, we're not going anywhere, and all we are asking for are the same rights as anyone else. But more than that, we're not going to stop fighting until we get them.

Marva said...

I will offer my uncles Neil and Jimmy. Yeah, one of them was related to me by blood. The other was my uncle by marriage. No, they couldn't really marry back then. But my uncles were my favorite relatives. Uncle Neil was an artist and Uncle Jimmy a musician. They ran an exclusive dinner bistro (no menu, six month wait for a reservation). Lovely people. They also took care of my grandmother who the other brothers and sisters had dumped into the state mental hospital. My uncles were the best, sweetest, kindest, most loving guys I've ever met.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post, Colleen. When I was checking on the votes on prop 8 last night I couldn't help feeling saddened and angry at the fact that once Americans had made such a big step towards change, only to take another one backwards and infringe upon the civil rights of people like Craig and Jack and so many others like them.

Personally I just can't help but be frustrated, even though I've been really excited and happy about the election results. I'm not American and as a lowly German immigrant I'm not even allowed to vote. Still I've probably been at least as excited about the election as most of my American friends.

Now, the giant drawback is living in Utah and being around a lot of people who have attitudes that makes my hair stand on end. Frankly this morning I almost snapped when I have to listen to people tell me how California, Florida and Arizona have done 'the right thing', because same sex marriages infringes upon the first amendment....Uh...WTF?!

I don't think I have to add anything to that to illustrate the extend of stupidity, let alone ignorance and hate that still exists among so many people.

Then again I have to listen to people tell me to "take [my] bi bitch ass back to germany where [I] belong and dont trouble us "conceited american" again as [they] really are the best country in the world and [they] don't need [my] kind."

I'm SO happy to share the same country with this person!
But hey, I don't 'share' I'm merely 'tolerated' until I take my bi bitch ass back to Germany where I belong.

I weep for you Americans.

At least I can claim foreign status...

Yes, I still love it here though, because most of the people are awesome and the others...well we'll see where that one goes.

Eileen said...

I couldn't believe this outcome and it broke my heart. We moved to Canada a few years ago and signed up on a list to be witnesses/guests for gay couples who came up here to get married and didn't have family with them. I love being apart of weddings of people who love each other and want to make that commitment. (Plus they usually let you have some of their cake- BONUS)

Maddox said...

I am in the US, my partner is in Germany, just left here after a 3 month stay. He is trans, I am female... and we've been dealing with being apart for four years now, visiting each other when we can. He wants to come here to live and work. That is still a possibility, but we dream now, now that Present-Elect Barack Obama has been chosen, that he can come here and be my spouse. I was married to a wonderful man for 23 years until he passed away, but found my life partner, my heart, my true love half a world away. My kids accept us, my sister one else should matter so it really slams that there are those who will never know us, that are judging us.

We believe ultimately we will see our private dream. Despite these setbacks, I do believe the day will come when we can be together, permanently, in this country. To believe otherwise is to give up hope--and NO one can take that away from me.


Anonymous said...

I'm a california voter. I did not support proposition 8. I don't believe in denying anyone basic rights, especially over something so stupid as the gender of the person they love.

The thing that got to me the most during the prop 8 campaign? The tv ads airing every hour before the election making it sound like prop 8 had to do with schools and sex education and 2nd graders, anything other than its real subject. The truth is that while it disturbs me greatly that prop 8 supporters would sink so low, it does help explain some of the voting. Some people bought into the propaganda, believing they were voting not on marriage law but on school curriculum.

I don't think it's over, though (There's already a movement to invalidate the measure). I said this as soon as prop 8 passed, that it wasn't the end. It's just an annoying roadblock that has to be knocked down again. That's what bugs me, not the idea that same sex couples will never be able to marry in California again (they will) but that California has to ride this stupid Merry go Round for a while until everyone comes to their senses.

Sex Mahoney for President said...

As much as I like equal rights, I think it's time for homosexual and heterosexual couples to stop getting married all together. Start calling it something else, like Flephing. It will have all the same perks of marriage (i.e. the boredom, fighting, and familiarity with your partner's flatulence) but fall outside of traditional marriage definitions. Let the whining crybabies who want to defend marriage take their ball and go home if they don't want to play anymore.

Adoption is another story. If a state won't let gay couples adopt children, then they'll have to kidnap them. It's the right thing to do.

Sex Mahoney for President

Crimogenic said...

Thanks for sharing your brother and brother-in-law's story. I am deeply saddened by this.... as I have always been about any type of inequality. I grew up in the south (I'm in my twenties, so not talking about fifty years ago), where racism was strong (outright and open). So I'm also sad to say that I'm not surprised by Prop 8.

All people, of different nationalities, gay, straight, or bi, whatever, should be able to live their lives and be happy. Who am I to say that you can't be married? Why would someone want to oppose another person's personal life. It doesn't make a bit of sense to me.

annerallen said...

I'm a Californian. For years I've been proud of my state, but embarrassed by my country. Now the situation is reversed. Let's hope this assault on our state by the Church of I Hate You gets overturned by the courts--and soon.

Cathy in AK said...

My question is, what are people who support the bans afraid of? That there will be more couples given the rights and privileges of other couples? That the divorce rate in the US may actually stablize? Or not? That we can allow people to be themselves and let the world know we can all love and be loved?

Thanks for sharing your brother and brother-in-law's story. Best of luck to them.

Helen said...

I'm from Ireland, but I've been following Prop. 8 somewhat obsessively. I'm gay, dating a girl in the UK, and, with the exception of my younger sister, my family are not pleased with the whole matter of my being in love with another girl (to put it mildly). Neither of us has any current plans to marry, but we want those who do to have the right.

Thank you for making this post and introducing us to your brother. I admit, I was close to tears by the end. What happens in the US does reflect back to other countries, and the refusal to accept this current setback has been heartening. The Irish government has been dragging its feet on a civil partnership bill since last March, but Obama's election has filled me with hope that we can start badgering the Irish government to stop running away from this.

Elissa M said...

I want to understand the reasoning of people who are terrified of gay marriage, but I can't. I am a blissfully married hetero woman, and I don't see how two consenting, loving adults wishing to be married hurts me in any way. Now, when a middle-aged man "marries" a 13 year-old girl and adds her to his stable of wives- well, that bothers me. A lot. Where are the amendments against that, pray tell?

Jolie said...

Talking about this makes me tired before I begin, but I did want to drop in and say that your brother and his husband were in my thoughts during the chaos of last week. I remembered how exciting it was when they got married not long ago, and it pained me to think about that joy being ripped away from this committed, loving couple.

In South Carolina, where I live, nobody expects to see same-sex marriage legalized anytime soon. It's an impossibility in our minds, and that's depressing, but I can't decide what's worse: knowing you may not live to see your rights recognized, or having those rights granted and then taken away in a single calendar year.

Jane Smith said...

I live in the UK, and this is the first I've heard of this dreadful situation.

I'm as dull as they come: white, middle-aged, middle-class, and happily married. And yet this situation makes me angry all the way into my heart.

I have gay friends, and straight friends. White friends and black, male and female; able-bodied and a little worn around the edges (like me). I don't see that any one of those things gives anyone the right to refuse anyone else a little love and respect.

Surely I'm not in the minority? Isn't that just everyday, decent behaviour?


Matthew MacNish said...

Thank you, Craig and Jack, for giving Colleen your permission to share your story with us. And thank you, Colleen, for sharing it. <3