I still don't have the words I want. Despite the incredible joy associated with Obama's victory, the success of Proposition 8, not to mention the marriage bans enacted in Florida and Arizona and the Arkansas straight-people-only adoption law, have just left me feeling rather hopeless, and hopeless isn't very motivating for writing. Hopeless is ridiculous, as I know the demographics are with us. Younger voters are much more in favor of gay marriage than older voters. In California just 8 years ago, 61% of voters approved a law defining marriage as between a man and a woman. A shift of 10% points in 8 years is pretty good. Change will come. Just not this week.
Anyone on the losing end of such an intensely emotional, personal political fight needs time to recover. I'm sitting here, on the other side of the country, frequently crying as I read news reports about California. But I'm also moved at the vision of California I've seen through Lesbian Dad in the past weeks. Her prose: incisive. Her analysis: spot-on. Her humor: always there. Her generosity: omnipresent. She's been working hard to get out the vote and to raise money, and she shares credit with her readers and fellow No on 8 volunteers. Her posts have been tributes to the amazing ground network the No on 8 coalition put together. Lesbian Dad's writing let us see just how hard the No on 8 folks were working. There's criticism emerging (see Andrew Sullivan) over the political tactics on our side in California--but whatever the political postmortems on strategy turn up, there's no denying that tens of thousands of Californians mobilized to give their time for marriage equality. Millions of dollars were raised to counter the LDS-led donations for the other side. And we came close, so very close, to fending it all off.
The world I want for my child is a world in which all our marriages are legally recognized (hell, that's the world I want for me!). The world I want for my child is one that will be shaped by Lesbian Dad and countless others like her: articulate, loving activists who will fight for equality. Our families are built on love, and some day, that love will be legally recognized as creating a family. Someday.
Today, to Lesbian Dad and to the countless others who worked in California, I say, simply: Thank you. You did good. You make my world better. We stand together, and together we will do the work that remains. Together, we will make it better still.
From Half-Changed World, lines from Marge Piercy:
This is the blessing for a political victory:From Elswhere:
Although I shall not forget that things
work in increments and epicycles and sometime
leaps that half the time fall back down,
let's not relinquish dancing while the music
fits into our hips and bounces our heels.
We must never forget, pleasure is real as pain
The arc of the moral universe bends towards justice. Like Anne Frank's quote about people being basically good at heart, I'm not even sure if that's true. But I can only hope so. It makes a good prayer, anyway, if one were a praying person: Please, Spirit of the Universe, if there is such a thing, or if not, then combined spirits of all of us together: Make the arc of history match that of the moral universe, and bend towards justice.From Equality California:
And bend it as soon as you, or we, can.
Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for equality is not over.From Andrew Sullivan:
Because of the struggle fought here in California — fought so incredibly well by the people in this state who love freedom and justice — our fight for full civil rights will continue.
Activist and writer Anne Lamott writes, “Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up.”
We stand together, knowing… our dawn will come.
If we had won this, this civil rights battle would be all but over. Now, it isn't. So we get back to work, arguing, talking. speaking, debating, writing, blogging, and struggling to change more minds. The hope for equality can never be extinguished, however hard our opponents try. And in the unlikely history of America, there has never been anything false about hope.