Daily Archive for November 22nd, 2008

The wedding we’re attending this weekend (and my post-election thoughts on Prop 8)*

The passage of Prop 8 crushed something inside me.

On the night of the election, I cried tears of joy to see Barack Obama elected as the 44th President of the United States. I remember being in grade school and asking “Will a woman ever be President? Will a black man ever be President?” My teacher said, “Someday, maybe.” Until recently, I didn’t dare to dream that “someday” could possibly be now.

Then I made the mistake of watching the returns on Prop 8 and saw that YES was winning.

I had been keeping my friends updated on the latest results over Twitter and the tide wasn’t turning in our favor. I was a mess by the time midnight rolled around and I forced myself to get ready for bed.

When I woke up in the morning, the worst had (pretty much) been confirmed. I literally burst into tears at the news.

We had lost. With the passage of Prop 8, what was crushed inside me was the belief that our state was ready to wipe out inequality for gays and lesbians. I thought that if it could happen in Massachusetts, if it could happen in Connecticut, if it could happen in half a dozen countries around the world, then our state of California could be tolerant enough to acknowledge that same-sex couples deserve to have the same rights are opposite-sex couples.

Over this summer, I had the honor of attending several same-sex weddings. Although these weddings weren’t the first gay/lesbian weddings that I had ever attended, they were the first that I’d attended here in Los Angeles. (In 2004, I had been lucky enough to witness TWO lesbian weddings of dear friends who had gotten married in Quebec, on a side trip we took while on a tour to Montreal.)

When we gathered to celebrate Doreen & Mona’s** wedding this past July, I got literally chills (even though it was about 95 degrees that day) when I heard the words, “…by the power vested in me by the State of California, I now pronounce you partners for life.” I had hoped that this “someday” for this would come to us in California, and when it came earlier this year, I was ecstatic.

I was overjoyed to see Doreen & Mona celebrate their 30th anniversary of being together AND get legally married at the same occasion.

I was overjoyed to see Heidi & Paula recite their vows with their daughter and son standing beside them; this loving family finally legally bound by renewing the vows they had previous cited to each other 11 years ago; only that time the vows were symbolic, but not legally binding.

I was overjoyed to hear the news that so many of our gay and lesbian friends were getting married; now they could finally have the same rights that everyone else had.

But now, with Prop 8, the following words have been added to our state constitution:
“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

These words not only disallow gay and lesbian couples from getting married in the future, but also throws into doubt the standings of thousands of unions which were legalized earlier this year.

So this weekend, we will happily attend the wedding of Dani & Neal, but it serves as a stark reminder of how unfair those 14 words in our constitution are. Dani was a classmate of mine in business school; she met Neal around the time that our program started and by the time we graduated, they were engaged. Dani & Neal are a beautiful couple (who, for the record, oppose Prop 8). But they are lucky because they are a straight couple.

They had the luxury of having an engagement that lasted for well over a year because it was legal for them to get married at any time.

They didn’t have to plan their wedding before November 4, just in case that right was going to get snatched away from them.

And once they get married this weekend, they don’t have to worry if the state will invalidate their union.

I want Dani & Neal to have a wonderful life together. I am so excited for them as they embark on this next chapter of their shared lives.

So, I don’t understand why it should be different for my friends who love people of the same gender as themselves.

I don’t understand why equal protection applies to everyone but gays and lesbians.

I don’t understand why gays and lesbians threaten “the sanctity of marriage” when many same-sex relationships are happier and healthier than straight ones.

So while I will have outwardly be having a wonderful time at what I’m sure will be a beautiful wedding, and be happy to be reunited with my old business school friends, I will be privately harboring some deep pain over this inequity. If those 14 words are not stricken from our constitution, I will never be able to fully enjoy a wedding knowing that so many of my friends and loved ones legally cannot have the same joy.

While we’ve taken some punches in the last couple of weeks, I am not going to let hate win. I want love to win.

So if you believe in love, join us.

Join us… in fighting inequality with tolerance, not by blaming the other side or those who are perceived to be at fault for passing Prop 8. The fight to defeat Prop 8 failed, but we don’t have to fail again if we come together, stand together, fight together. The only way we will win is by gathering more people on our side.

Join us… by voting with your pocketbooks, by supporting businesses and companies (like Google and Apple) which stood up for equal rights and by not supporting businesses which paid to take rights away from people. Companies which supported Prop 8 will not get my support until they stand on the side of equality for all. Protest if you feel that this is the way to express yourself, but remember, if they do come our way, then they have joined us and we should support them again.

Join us… by not allowing our government treat certain groups of people differently in the eyes of the law. Pick up a pen or get on your keyboard and exercise your freedom of speech by writing to the politicians who represent you and ask them to fight for those who have had their rights taken away.

Prop 8 may have crushed something in me, but only temporarily so.

Love will heal us. Love will bring us together. Love will guide us. And when we win equality for all, we will give back by honoring love in all its shapes and forms.

If I have learned anything since grade school, it is that I can dare to dream that “someday” could possibly be now. Will you dare to join us in this dream?

*This post was actually written Friday, November 14, 2008 and the wedding we attended was on Saturday night, November 15, 2008. It was indeed beautiful. Congratulations to Mr & Mrs. M! I held off on publishing this to see if I had any second thoughts on anything I wrote. It turns out I don’t.

**Names have been changed.

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