Thursday, November 6, 2008

More faces of California's Proposition 8: Meet Jo and Anna-Marie

Last night I received the following letter and - with the author's permission - I'm posting it in its entirety here. Meet Jo and Anna-Marie, a same-sex married couple from Los Angeles:
Jo and I met in our freshman year of college, a few days after moving into our first dorm rooms. We first bonded over memories of watching "Murder, She Wrote" with our respective grandmothers, and the fact that we both called purses pocketbooks. We've now been together for over four years, and were married yesterday afternoon.

For the past few months, Jo has been a field organizer and I've been a volunteer with the No on Prop 8, Equality for All campaign. Like so many other volunteers, we've been in the streets, in the office and on the phones reaching as many voters as we can to make sure they know about Prop 8 and know that it takes away rights for millions of Californians.

These past few months have been meaningful for us not only because of our sexual orientation, but also because we are a mixed-race couple. A friend of ours recently wrote in a letter that the people we saw on street corners waving Yes on 8 on signs were the ghosts of those who opposed interracial marriage four decades ago. I have no doubt that one day Americans will look back on today as they now look back on the years of anti-miscegenation law, years when Jo and I would not have been able to get married not only because we are both women, but because Jo is white and I am Latina.
Attached is a picture from our wedding yesterday; Jo is on the left, and I'm on the right. Yes, we're both wearing No on Prop 8 shirts; we took about a half hour off from Election Day campaigning and our pastor married us, with a few members of our church looking on, including our goddaughter. They took photographs on their camera phones, read from the first chapter of Ruth, and played "Here Comes the Bride" on kazoos they borrowed from the Sunday School room.

Jo and I hope to have a traditional wedding someday, one that includes flowers, cake frosting, and as many family and friends as we can get in one place. But November 4, 2008, is the day I became a wife, legally, if only until those who voted for Prop 8 decide that they haven't taken enough.

Next year, Jo will begin law school to continue her career in LGBT rights. We may have lost on this one proposition, but we will win this, this fight to be people not only with rights but also with faces, because there is no other option. As our nieces and nephews grow up, and as we one day have children of our own, we will be able to tell them that we fought for a world where equality has no prerequisites. And the people on those street corners who opposed us, insulted us, and threatened us will have to tell their nieces and nephews and children that they did everything they could to give them a world where hate, fear, and ignorance could take hold. Because of that, I feel far sorrier for them than I do for us.

As a writer, I greatly appreciate your blog for its advice, perspective, and insight. But right now, as a member of the LGBT community, I appreciate your blog for making people think.

Anna-Marie & Jo
Los Angeles, California


Cheryl said...

This is a really good idea. I'm wondering if there should be a separate web site for this things, or if someone like Equality California should take it over. I have a few contacts out here if you need them.

clindsay said...

I have been considering putting up a separate website for this project, actually, as I'm getting a lot of responses and don't want it to overwhelm the blog. Any ideas are welcome!

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

if Obama hadn't run for President, Prop 8 would HAVE failed.

Many Blacks in California have turned out to vote for Obama AND voted for Prop 8 to be passed. Shameful, but true.

So we got a Black president elected, but everybody hates the gays.


but I read last night that Prop 8 is still not passed yet-- they are still counting absentee ballots. So everybody in CA, MAKE SURE TO CALL THE RIGHT NUMBER TO DEMAND THAT YOUR VOTE COUNTS!

Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

Hey Colleen, yeah, why not set up a seperate blog right hereon Blogger for the project? It would be cool.

clindsay said...

Deaf -

That's an argument I've been hearing a lot, but the logic is badly flawed.

The truth is that African Americans make up only about 6% of the voting population of California. Of that 6%, only 70% of them voted for Prop 8. That's a tiny fraction of the number of people who actually voted yes on this initiative.



Deaf Brown Trash Punk said...

oh I didn't hear that one. Blacks only make up 6% of the voting population in California?!?! I thought it would be way higher than that... holy crap.

so maybe it's the conservative Latinos, then? Since many of them are Catholic... but who knows.

Jeff said...

I think a lot of this resistance and hate is driven by a fundamental misunderstanding. A misunderstanding sown by people whose hearts are filled with hate. In some instances, surely, self-hate, but also just good old fashioned hate. But I have talked to people who really don't even understand what's at stake with gay and lesbian marriage. Their heads are full of lies.

Then again, there are a few people who are honestly opposed for theological reasons, but somehow I think they are a tiny majority who, though entitled to their beliefs and perfectly free to express themselves, really shouldn't be going around trying to turn their theology into secular law.

Patrick said...

I am so proud to be an American and so bummed to be a Californian (in exile). I hope that the people who are dealing with this coldheartedly are right, and that the passing of Prop 8 is actually a good thing in the long run (as I understand it, revoking marriages that were valid will give people like the ACLU ammo to use in a SCOTUS case saying that the removal of a right that they did have, however briefly, caused damage and hardship).

I've got a lot of friends who are hurting right now, though.

Cheryl said...

A separate blog is easy. OTOH, it may end up taking a lot of your time and people *will* try to trash it. Getting an official site to run with the idea may lead to less stress all round.

As to the ethnic issue, I think you will find that poor and badly educated people tended to vote for 8, regardless of their ethnicity. If black and Hispanic people are more likely to be poor and badly educated, well, they voted for Obama in the hopes that he'll fix that. And if he does they'll start to come over to us.

bran said...

The pro gay marriage movement has looked extremely racist (even with sprinklings of folks of color) and highlighting that "blacks" and "latino's" made it happen only add to that divide.
I am black and trans and gay and have never thought to prioritize gay marriage 1) It's history of ownership of women and property 2) the history of who hasn't been able to get married like interracial couples (in either alabama or arkansas as late as 2000) 3) because I resent having to get "my love recognized" by a piece of paper and visitation rights "chosen family" should have regardless 4) I have focused on organizing as a formerly homeless youth who had to deal with high rates of incarceration and abuse, and high drop out rates due to homophobic and transphobic harassment.

However, this did feel painful. My suggestion to No on Prop 8 people, stop leaving out the needs of trans people and people of color in your messaging and you will get a lot more support. How does No on prop 8 have the possibility to bring people together? Talk about how it doesn't take away from our country but adds to it.

Look up places that are a majority people of color that have different views or laws around gay couples like South Africa etc
Make sure youth who have left schools or been kicked out of their homes tell their stories since the Yes people used schools to breed fear and hate.
Talk about chosen family...I grew up with cousins aunts and uncles who were not related to me but were absolutely family. So redefine it in a way that is culturally inclusive.
Good luck Cali

lizz said...

Much about Proposition 8 makes me sick inside. The thing that bugs me the most is that Americans actually voted to DENY other Americans their rights.

That's not what voting was meant to be.

I don't see how anyone who voted for this thing could call themselves an American.

*shakes head*

Ryan Field said...

To Jo and Anna Marie:

Just make sure you are both covered legally with things like power of attorney. We may not be able to marry right now, but there are many ways to protect ourselves, legally, that too many gay couples put off until it's too late.

My partner and I have covered everything, and two years ago I was very thankful we did when he was hospitalized after an auto accident. I carried those power of attorney papers to the ICU every day for three months. And trust, me that's the first thing they ask for...especially the family.

sex scenes at starbucks said...

What a moving letter.

I realize the legal implications, of course, but I come at this from a more emotional standpoint. My marriage has been the greatest joy in my life. We were together for five years prior, thought marriage was just a formality, and almost immediately realized how stupid we'd been to think living together was the same thing. SOMETHING was different--some unnameable aspect that brought us even closer. As a Christian, I like to think it was God's blessing, but no matter what makes marriage so special, I can't imagine anyone denying others of the same joy and bond. It's absurd, and that vote was a blight on an otherwise wonderful day.

jill said...

Colleen, Thank you for posting these stories. I'm not in CA, not gay but I've been angry and disgusted at the hatefulness of the pro-discrimination people.

Besides the mean-spiritedness, they're ultimately saying that marriage is all about (only about)sex. I like to think that the decision to share your life with another human being is deeper and more complex than a biological action.

Letting more couples marry can only strengthen the institution of marriage.

Best of luck to Jo and Anna-Marie and your brother and husband.

KD said...

I think this is a brilliant idea, but I was thinking of suggesting it to livelongnmarry on LJ or something. I had toyed with the idea of suggesting members email stories to friends--not spam, not a lot, but one here and there to get them comfortable with the fact these are people too.

Of course, that was after I totally trounced a fifteen-year-old who was condescending to a friend who was crying over this. So I may just be going too far the other way.

Patience, hell. Lemme kill something!

Eileen said...

Many happy wishes to Jo and Anna-Marie on their wedding. I sincerely hope they get the right to have a second wedding with all the flowers and family they want. However- I have to say- having kazoos play is AWESOME.