06 November 2008

For Lesbian Dad, with readings

Even with all the hope in my heart before the election, I never assumed we'd win on Prop 8. Polling always overestimates support for gay rights initiatives (on marriage, on employment, on housing) and when the pre-election polls had the issue at 49% opposed, 44% in favor, I figured we'd lose in the voting booth. So for about a week now, I've had one question rattling around in my head: what am I going to say to Lesbian Dad? As anyone reading last week knows, I've been channeling her words on the California election here. What to say to someone who's been working so hard for equality, whose marriage has just been rejected by a majority of voters, and who's been writing so beautifully?

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:
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
From Elswhere:
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.

And bend it as soon as you, or we, can.
From Equality California:
Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for equality is not over.

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.
From Andrew Sullivan:
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.


Liz Miller said...

I am so saddened that arguably the most liberal big state turned out to be so bigoted.

I hate that they joined my state in having such a horrible amendment. I do so hope that the lawsuits will prevail.

What Now? said...

Thanks for the readings. They were much needed.

Phantom Scribbler said...

Thank you, Susan, for everything that you've done, too.

elswhere said...

You're no slouch with the words there yourself. Thank you for this, and for all the words and thought and energy you gave to this.

Unknown said...

Your words and all the others are a continuing source of hope.

kathy a. said...

susan, you have written such strong and wonderful things, too.

i believe this is a battle that will be won in time. how could it not be?

Magpie said...

Someday this will happen. It will.

Tall Kate said...

What a great post, Susan.

kathy a. said...

a local columnist summed it up for straight suburban parents: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/11/07/BAGD140G16.DTL

Arwen said...

That is a beautiful post to the people of activism; what work it is.

Polly said...

I am definitely at a loss for words (and breath) these days. But I very much want to thank you. Your heartfelt support -- and that of so many like you, and even unlike you -- has been so sustaining.

It feels like right now as if we're in a small room full of gasoline (we Black folk, queer and straight, and we queer folk, of all colors) and way, WAY too many people are pitching lit matches around. I'm just hating it. And the folks who filled the room with gas are chuckling. Worked like a charm.

And liz: sad to say, California has an atrocious, notorious reputation with (a) social issue propositions, and (b) the huge bloc of conservatives here, largely in the Central Valley and most of southern California. The Bay Area and north coastal counties, with the southern exception of Santa Barbara county, were exceptional on this vote. Which of course is why I live here.

But in past years my fellow Californians have passed propositions radically reducing the rights of immigrants (Prop 187), young people of color (21), and the entire social policy of Affirmative Action (209). Not to mention gay marriage in 2000, which the Supreme Court just impotently ruled unconstitiutional.

As a local, I'm heart-sick (disgusted, fed up, fatigued, etc.). But I'm not surprised.

kathy a. said...

the governator just said that he hopes the cal supremes invalidate prop 8.

polly is unfortunately correct about california not living up to its liberal reputation. even the state supreme court has been conservative, ever since chief justice bird and 2 other justices were kicked to the curb during an election 20 years ago.

and still -- that conservative court held that banning gay marriage violates basic constitutional rights. it gives me some hope that they will turn this thing around.

Mom to Baby J said...

Still holding out some hope that this doesn't happen...thanks for educating us on the issues.