12 November 2008

Speaking Out


Saturday is a day of protest over Proposition 8. There are demonstrations scheduled in every state, and even abroad (although question to organizers: does it really make sense to call Puerto Rico an international location?). There have been many protests in California already, with thousands of protests taking to the streets. It's stirring, the sight of so many people continuing to demonstrate for marriage equality. Andrew Sullivan says it's the beginning of a gay awakening in the US. He comments, "I've long believed that the moment every gay person truly wanted the right to marry, and understood the depth of the injustice, we would win. That moment feels much closer today than it did a week ago."

There's been a lot of divisive commentary over Prop 8--accusations that African-American voters coming out for Obama put Prop 8 over the top. Nate Silver's analysis puts that to rest quite clearly. The reason Prop 8 passed was because too many Californians voted for it, period. Too many Californians who fit into lots of demographic categories voted for it. As Silver notes, if people over 65 had stayed home from the polls, Prop 8 would have narrowly failed. So in another 8 years or so, marriage equality should fare better at the California polls (although it is rather difficult to get things out of constitutions once enshrined. But still, time is on the side of marriage equality). In the meantime, we should all read some very fine posts on the relationships--or lack thereof--between the civil rights movement and the marriage equality movement. Lesbian Dad says: "Surely a silver lining will become evident in the clouds over us (dueling recriminations: homophobe! racist! bigots, all! meanwhile the powers that be at the LDS and the Knights of Columbus lean back, and smile). Lordy at times it feels like not just hard rain, but frogs and locusts are coming down. "

Frogs and locusts, but also lots of protests. The thing is, I can't quite figure out what all the protests are heading towards. In California, there's so much pent-up emotion over Prop 8: protests there make sense to me, as a way of communicating frustration and as a way of working out where to go next. But what does it mean to have nationwide protests about Prop 8? Or a boycott, as some have called for? (boycotts make no sense: gay Californians, those most directly affected by Prop 8, have no ability to not spend money where they live, San Fransisco has long been pushing, and providing, equal rights for queers in areas where the city had jurisdiction, so why boycott SF? plus see an excellent set of arguments over at An Accident of Hope.)

I can't figure out whether there's going to be a protest here in Germany or not. If there is, I'll probably go. But I want a better formulation of what the protest is aimed at: whose opinions are we targeting? What actions do we want to see? In the meantime, here's what I'm planning to do in the wake of Prop 8:
  • checking out the marriage equality organization here in Germany. (want to know who's working in your state? Check out the cool stuff going on at Equality Utah! I can't find a comprehensive website listing all the state equality organizations, but HRC is one starting place. Marriage Equality USA has chapters around the country There's also a Jews for Marriage Equality group. Freedom to Marry is another source of state-by-state info. Google "marriage equality" and "your state name here" to find out what's going on in your neck of the woods.)
  • writing to my governor to let him know what marriage would mean to me and my family
  • writing to my state legislators to let them know what marriage would mean to me
I live in a state where it's possible to imagine the legislature enacting marriage equality. And what legislators--and governors with veto power--need to know is that a) their constitutents support marriage equality and b) they won't lose their seats over supporting it. One of the reasons marriage settled reasonably well in Massachusetts is that legislators who opposed civil unions tended to lose seats in the next election; legislators who supported them retained their seats. When legislators understand that their seats aren't at risk over their votes, they are less timid about supporting an issue. Even if you live in a state that already extends legal protections to same-sex couples, write your elected representatives and let them know how much you value those protections. We need to speak up, and speak out.

6 comments:

liz said...

Amen.

kathy a. said...

yes.

Tall Kate said...

Another great post, Susan.

Songbird said...

Thanks for keeping us posted. EqualityME did a great job collecting signatures of support for marriage equality here on Election Day. It's my hope we'll be one of the states to move forward on this.

kathy a. said...

oooooh, hot off the press! the cal supremes have asked the attorney general to respond to the lawsuits -- or rather, whether they should take the cases, and if so, whether they should suspend prop. 8 while they decide. this is preliminary, but a formal step in the direction of taking the cases. http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/13/BAMU1449RR.DTL&tsp=1

Allan said...

Guys there is a great LGBT civil rights organization called the Empowering Spirits Foundation. They are very creative in how they approach this hot topic issue, in that they engage in service oriented activities in communities typically opposed to equal rights to foster thought and change for LGBT equality.

A friend of mine told me about it and I thought it was a great, positive approach to the issue. We had so much fun at the last event and it was great to give back to the community. Plus it was great to converse with others on the other side of the table in a way that wasn't confrontational.

Anyway, this can be such a heated issue and I thought this was a unique approach.