when-2(America Takes One Step Forward and One Back)


We were on the Mall two weekends ago–no, not celebrating the new day in American politics or even scoping out some choice spots for the inauguration.  We were there to demand our rights.  You see the decisive victory for Barak Obama and Democrats nationwide cast the night of November 4 into a kind of blue euphoria that lasted through the evening and into the next day.  But as the morning news broke, it became clear that something was still very wrong in America.  Several amendments to State constitutions prohibiting gays and lesbians from marrying, passed in a handful of States and sadly one that prohibits unmarried couples from fostering or adopting children in the State of Arkansas, a measure admittedly directed at gays and lesbian couples.  These results did not take long to stir indignity and anger.  Protests began shortly after the announcement of the passage of Proposition 8 in California and continued both virtually and on the streets more than a week later. 


The proposition in California which passed by a half million votes was particularly stinging.  As many others have stated, what makes this so disturbing is that it wasn’t just a vote to validate or establish in law what had already been in practice, it was a vote to take away a right that Californians already possessed.  In Maryland where we reside, earlier this year we had already lost the State Supreme Court case challenging the rights of gays and lesbians to marry, so we have never had that right.  I think we have already been through the anger and disgust with our State’s judicial system.  But in California 18,000 marriage licenses had been issued after the State’s courts ruled that barring gays from marrying was unconstitutional.  And if you really want to make someone angry start taking away their basic rights because that is exactly what happened to us–not just to Californians but to all of us.


It seems ironic that the State that sent Obama hurtling over the edge of 270 electoral votes and on into the history book would also send tens of thousands of angry gays and lesbians hurtling into streets with the passage of Proposition 8.  It truly is a blue disgrace.  The response was swift.  Individuals immediately began to target the backers of the initiative including the Mormon Church which prior to the election had urged its members to contribute to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign.  The LDS is now on the defensive, recoiling at the harsh criticism from gays and lesbians.  Now some ingenious person has developed a web site which provides a list of all donors to the Yes on Proposition 8 so that the anger can be directed at those who in part are responsible.  In this age of gotcha, maybe it’s time for us to gotcha back.  I assure anyone who is not gay or doesn’t know someone who is, the scorn of a woman is nothing compared to the fury of a gay man.  Sure, let’s boycott the State of Utah including the Sundance Film Festival.  Let’s identify those business owners who were contributors.  Let’s use our political and economic muscle to scare those responsible.  But those seem like the typical responses.  It is time to use the new tools available to us.  It is time to fight back intelligently, wisely, effectively.  While I don’t condone the attack of individuals over the internet, displaying the contributors names for all the world to see is likely to have a chilling effect on those trying to raise funds for anti-gay causes in other States.  No one wants their name out on the web where hundreds of thousands of angry gays and lesbians can Google them, can boycott them, can express their disgust towards them.  My hope is that the ingenuity within our communities will bring even bigger and more effective actions.


I am torn between those who suggest that we should protest in a spirit of positivity much like we did this weekend–keeping the indignation in check and those who wish to display something militant–marching in the streets, shouting, expressing ourselves in ways that display our anger rather than our patience and perseverance.  I wonder if the polite, upstanding, good citizen approach doesn’t quite capture the severity of the situation and in reality does not seem to be getting the message across.  I am not advocating anything along the order of WTO in Seattle or Stonewall, but maybe the time for harsher language, for larger crowds, for louder voices is upon us.  If not now, when?  When I am dead and gone? 


Now that I am a dad, the urgency of protecting my family has made the indignation in my chest a little stronger, the voice of protest in my head a little louder.  More importantly though, based upon the disgrace of election night November 4, we gays and lesbians now have to begin asking ourselves, if a majority in a State can vote to take away a right of a minority where does it end?  In Arkansas unmarried couples (gays and lesbian couples) will not be able to foster children or to adopt and I assume that those currently fostering will be asked to give up their children and have their certification stripped away.  What’s next?  Can you referendum my rights as a parent?  Will you begin to gather signatures to support a measure to take my children from me simply based upon my sexual orientation?  Is this really so farfetched in back-water States like Florida and Arkansas?


So it is not about Californians or just marriage, it is about our rights and being equal.  It is about the blue disgrace.  That two Saturdays ago we packed up our son and the three of us trotted down to the Mall, just one of many protests nationwide to express our outrage and disgust with being second-classed, once again.  We all have come too far and waited too long.  There are too many of us in all strata of society, unwilling to be treated differently any longer.  So at 1:30 pm in the rain, in the midst of the pandemonium and security lockdown for the G-20 summit that was also taking place in Washington, thousands of us made our way through the city and along the Mall to let it be known that we have had enough.