I have not written specifically on this blog about Prop 8 in California or in any way other than tangentially about my sexual orientation. But with the passage of Prop 8 it is time for me to take a stand, speak my mind and share what is in my heart.
When the California Supreme Court opinion came down in May of this year granting gay and lesbian Californians the right to marry, I immediately went to the Court’s web site and downloaded the over 120 page opinion. As I read it, I wept. Finally, someone was speaking up for me and my gay brothers and sisters, finally someone understood the importance of our relationships with our partners, of how much these relationships satisfied our souls, nurtured and fulfilled us. At last, we were being told that we deserved and were entitled to the most basic fundamental human right- the right to marry the person we loved.
Now mind you, as a gay woman, I never believed that in my lifetime I would be given the right to marry. And so the Supreme Court’s decision buoyed my spirits and made me feel equal to all of my heterosexual friends. I could share with them my joy and invite them to help me celebrate the joining of my life with my partner’s. We would finally be able to have our union validated and legally and socially recognized. I would no longer be a second class citizen, looked down upon, considered sick and immoral.
That very evening my partner and I sat down and chose the date for our wedding. We took out a pad of paper and began scribbling out our plans and joyfully creating our guest list. It felt surreal to think about our wedding, an event we never thought we would celebrate.
As we made our plans; met with caterers, selected the location and finalized our guest list, never far from our minds was the looming threat that the voters in California would take away this fundamental right we had so long fought and hoped for. To ensure that we could and would be legally wed, we chose a date before November 4 to celebrate the union of our lives. My head told me that surely people would not discriminate against us and deny us the right to marry the person of our choosing; my love for my partner being no different than the love my closest friends have for their opposite sex spouses. But my intellect reminded me of the history of discrimination in this country. After all, it wasn’t that long ago that interracial marriage was prohibited. And it hasn’t been that long since the passage of the Civil Rights Act. I was hoping with an African American as our democratic candidate for President that I was wrong, that our country had advanced and become more tolerant and accepting.
And then the campaign of hate began. Commercials filled with lies, funded with money from religious organizations such as the Mormon Church aired night and day. My stomach turned. The hate and intolerance that spewed from the television over and over again each night told me that there were those who did not want me and my partner to enjoy the basic human right of forming a family with the person of our choosing. They did not want us to have the comfort and solace of the person we loved the most when we lay dying. In many states, only family members can be by the bedside of a person as they take their last breath. Without jumping through a bunch of legal hurdles, a gay couple cannot pass property to each other upon death. Absent being a heterosexual married couple, we have no right to the social security benefits of a spouse. These are only a few of the rights heterosexual couples take for granted and which are denied to us, simply because we love someone of the same sex. Prop 8 was really misnamed. It should have been called Prop Hate.
At the same time this country elected its first bi racial president, gay marriage bans passed in three states, California, Arizona (where it had been defeated twice before) and in another state that I can’t recall at the moment. In at least one other state the voters decided that gay couples cannot and should not be permitted to adopt a child. As the mother of a happy, healthy and married heterosexual male, this angered me. Sexual orientation does not impair ones parenting abilities. Just ask my son.
In California, at least, much of the money used to fuel the campaign of hate came from Mormons, with a significant amount coming from out of state. The Mormon Church actively advocated its members donate money to the Yes on 8 Campaign. Many heeded the call. Many others became political activists and organized; manning phone banks and canvassing neighborhoods, knocking on doors and spreading lies and hate. The Mormon Church and its members actively and substantially became involved in politics, something a non-profit, tax exempt religious organization is prohibited by law from doing. Remember separation of Church and State? The Mormon Church does not pay taxes. But we gay Americans do and yet we are denied the most basic and fundamental rights all other taxpaying Americans enjoy and take for granted.
There is a war cry being sounded in gay communities all across America – Boycott Mormon owned businesses. This is a war cry that should be heeded. While I understand that there are some in our community who do not support a boycott of businesses that financially or otherwise supported the passage of Prop 8, especially while we are experiencing such a horrible economic downturn, history has shown us that boycotts are extremely effective.
As a community we should not support or frequent any business or use the services of any professional who supports and/or encourages hate, intolerance or discrimination. Any business that takes our money and then works financially or otherwise to prevent us from enjoying basic fundamental civil rights does not deserve to have our business. The gay community is a very powerful economic force and we need to use the power of our wallets to send a message. After all, it was the power of the wallets of the Mormons, the Catholics and other religious zealots that contributed to the passage of Prop 8. Let those businesses and professionals who support hate, intolerance and discrimination experience what it feels like to be singled out and treated differently. Let us hurt them where it matters most, in their pocketbooks. Let them feel the pain and the consequence of their hate and discrimination.
Businesses that support hate, intolerance and discrimination want our green dollars but do not want us to have civil rights, the same rights many heterosexuals take for granted. These businesses are color blind when it comes to money – green is green regardless of who is paying – and want our green dollars to enrich themselves and their bottom lines but do not want us to enjoy basic fundamental civil rights. We will take your money and we will take your right to marry. By using the power of our wallet we can make a statement to all such businesses and professionals that discrimination in any form is not acceptable. If they can’t treat gay Americans the same in all respects as heterosexuals, they don’t deserve our money, especially when we can give it to others who believe in equal rights for all. Would any of us frequent an establishment that advocated or supported discrimination against Blacks, Hispanics, Asians, or Jews? The power of the wallet is one of our best weapons in this fight. Especially during these challenging economic times. After all, these businesses used the power of their wallets to take from us a right many of us desperately want.
Now is NOT the time to be invisible. Now is NOT the time to sit on the sidelines. Now is NOT the time to be silent. Now is NOT the time to give our hard earned gay dollars to bigots, religious zealots or businesses that care more about their bottom lines than they do basic
fundamental human rights. We need to let the public know we are here and that we are proud. We need to hold our heads high and share with the world our love for our partners and our community. We need to shape public opinion. We need to let people know who we are and kindly, passionately and proudly let them know we are just like them. We love. We cry. We hurt. We pay taxes and we raise children. And we must NOT let anyone take advantage of us in any way, especially financially. Many businesses have profited off of the backs of the gay community for far too long. A boycott against those businesses that do not see us as equal and only take our money to line their own pockets is the right thing to do.
We need to rally. We need to write letters to the editor. We need to boycott. We need to protest. We need to educate. We need to support politicians who will be there for us when it might mean they won’t be re-elected because it is the RIGHT thing to do. We need to picket and
stop supporting financially or with our vote ANY politician who does not believe that we deserve equal rights. Not separate rights, not rights by any other name, but the same rights as all other Americans take for granted. We need to stand up, be heard and counted.