FLAMING LIBERAL: ‘No on Prop 8’ made a difference

by Staff

Last week’s election was revolutionary in many ways. Here in San Diego, which is typically conservative, we had an incredible turnaround for the Democratic Party, electing Democrats Marti Emerald, Sherri Lightner and Todd Gloria to the City Council. We also elected Democrat Marty Block as our next State Assemblymen. “Liberal” Propositions 1A, 2, and 3 all passed, and the “conservative” Proposition 4 was defeated. But the most contested proposition on the ballot, no matter which side you were on, was Proposition 8. Now it’s written into the California Constitution that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in this state, effectively eliminating marriage for same-sex couples.

Proposition was 8 close, decided by only a few percentage points. It’s also unprecedented. Never before has one group of law-abiding citizens enjoyed a fundamental right one day, and then had it stripped away by a popular vote of the people. Never before has the right to same-sex marriage existed, and then been taken away.

It’s hard to sit here and write this and know that, statistically speaking, every other person that walks passed me could be someone who marks me as a second-class citizen. It’s even harder to discuss because the measure passed, despite all the effort that was poured into opposing it.

The “no” on Prop 8 campaign fought hard throughout the entire state. We put together the largest grassroots organization and field team ever, outside of a presidential election. We stood together to fight against inequality, so we can’t turn on each other now and fight amongst ourselves. Then, not only will we have lost the fight, we will have lost all the support that already went in to putting together this amazing movement.

This campaign brought in money by the millions from the work of grassroots organizations and people. Proponents of Prop 8 brought in most of their money from special interests outside California, specifically the Mormon Church.
So much progress has been made already. In 1974, it was illegal to have same-sex relationships in California at all. The state did not have protection for domestic partners until 2005. And most significantly, when people voted for the initial marriage ban in 2000, Proposition 22, it passed with a 23 percent margin. That margin has been all but destroyed. This time around, with all the bravery of many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and the selflessness of our “straight-ally” community, Proposition 8 passed with only a 5 percent margin.

So despite losing this battle, we were still victorious. Just fewer than half of Californians stood up to hate, discrimination and second-class status for same-sex couples. People from all walks of life spoke out against the proposition. Leaders of faith, people of color, union workers, Democrats, Republicans, straight allies and the LGBT community sent out a message: Change is coming.

No clearer sign could we have of this inevitable change than the election of this nation’s first black president. President-elect Barack Obama is a beacon of hope that change can come. It may not come on our schedule or when we need it most, but it will come as surely as the sun will rise tomorrow.
There is still some resentment among the LGBT community about why this proposition succeeded. Some people gave up their jobs, their time, their friendships, their relationships, and their health to fight for this cause. Most gave what they could. It doesn’t help to blame one another for this loss for our community. It’s not about who did more to fight. There will always be someone else who did more, gave up more and is hurt more than someone else. What matters is that we all did something.

For those who volunteered and donated, don’t be angry with those who didn’t. And for those who did nothing, do not criticize the work of those who did. Today is not about being angry, it’s about realizing the work we did in just eight years to move the hearts and minds of millions to the side of fairness and equality. Often the LGBT community fights within, and that is when we lose. We forget who our real enemies are and bicker amongst ourselves.

We have to remember how we came together and how we will continue to come together. This loss has hopefully shaken many out of complacency. Protests and rallies have already started across the state. People out there are outraged and disbelieving. Just like the struggles of the past 8212; the internment caps for Japanese-American citizens, segregation of schools for blacks 8212; all this inequality stems from the same hate and bias of the past.

As Margaret Mead said: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”

8212;Allan Acevedo is a political science and ISCOR sophomore.

8212;This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec. Send e-mail to letters@thedailyaztec.com. Anonymous letters will not be printed 8212; include your full name, major and year in school.

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