diverting from our main discussion to Rick Warren

Link first: "It's not Obama I'm mad at; it's way too many of you."

There're a lot of people, including some quite close to me, who don't get why this Rick Warren thing is a big deal. Or they argue that it's about bringing together diverse views, or reaching out to the right, and that it's somehow admirable for this. Here're my two cents:

Bull-fucking-shit. Hem. This isn't just one isolated event; it's yet another in a long line of occasions where the Democratic Party has reached out to the right at the expense of the GLBT community, thrown us under the bus in the name of unity. This isn't about diversity; this is validation of hate speech, a signal that it is somehow acceptable to, as Warren has, compare gay marriage to incest. This isn't outreach; we're not communicating anything to the guy or his supporters except that Obama & co. care about them. And if he'd spoken of another minority -- say, Jews, or Asian-Americans, or African-Americans -- as hatefully as he has of gay people, nobody would consider it an acceptable form of outreach or diversifying.

The thing is, quite simply, that GLBT issues are not abstract. I've said it before; I'll keep saying it. GLBT issues are not abstract. People die because of anti-GLBT discrimination. People are brutally attacked because homophobia is still accepted -- nay, encouraged -- in our society. I could go on -- that's just this last week -- but I shouldn't have to. It should be bleeding obvious that GLBT people need protection and active support and that no, we can't wait. We have waited too long. We can't go on taking scraps from the table of justice, watching as hate speech is accepted and affirmed while we are told to sit down and shut up until the mainstream is "ready" for us, following along like good little sheep after leaders who openly oppose full equality and justify it with religious beliefs that aren't even validated by the holy texts they draw from. As the famous quote/paraphrase whose origins appear to be lost in the mists of time says, "justice too long delayed is justice denied" and we cannot allow ourselves to be denied justice. Neither can any supposed ally allow us to, without admitting that they don't really care about us.

We can't let ourselves be thrown under the bus by the Democratic Party or anyone else. We can't let ourselves be put at the bottom of the priority list, to wait until America is ready for us. We need justice today, and if America is not ready then it must be dragged kicking and screaming into a place of justice, as it has been so many times before in the history of our nation, because the majority's opinion is so wildly unimportant in comparison to the needs of the minority that it should never even register.

Enough is enough is enough, already.


18000 marriages need to end to protect marriage

Yes On 8 wants to annul all the same-sex marriages performed in the state to date. I am completely unsurprised.

I just don't get it, friends. I don't understand how other people living their lives can be so offensive to anyone that they're willing to put their time and money into tearing us down. The nearest I can figure is that there's some severe difference in word definitions between us and them.

My hypothesis is that it comes down to the definition of homosexuality. From the point of view of a GLBA person, homosexuality is the state of being attracted to/falling in love exclusively or almost exclusively with people of the same sex/gender as oneself. It's innate, it's immutable -- who chooses who they love? -- and it's a part of who you are regardless of what you do.

The thing about this understanding of sexual orientation -- supported by science and backed by the APA -- is that it makes "homosexuality is a sin" gibberish. It's a trait. Redheadedness isn't a sin, or autism, or being black, or being left-handed. And therefore we don't push redheads to dye their hair, mandate drugging of autistic people, force black people to bleach their skin and straighten their hair, or prohibit the use of the left hand for writing. In the present, I mean. So it's illogical to discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation, just as laws against left-handedness would be illogical.

Therefore, I don't think that our opponents can possibly define homosexuality this way. The party line for a lot of conservatives is that it's a "lifestyle choice," right? So what I eventually realized is that homosexuality to them means gay sex. A gay person is someone who has sex with people of the same sex -- bisexuals I think must be seen as incredibly promiscuous, because otherwise there would be no way of giving meaning to the term -- and therefore, logically, if they stop having sex with people of the same sex, they are no longer gay.

Now, there are a few flaws with this, and the first is that it's completely and demonstrably false. Well, that can be dodged by simply not believing the overwhelming scientific evidence or any individual gay person who has relevant personal experience. The second is that only a total idiot with a persecution complex would ever choose to be a member of an unpopular minority group. The counter to this that I've seen is the suggestion that gay sex is addictive, sort of like tobacco I suppose, and to try it once is to risk getting hooked for life. Alternately, there's the Freudian idea that gay people have some childhood trauma that makes us afraid of relationships with people of the opposite sex, so that same-sex relationships seem better somehow even with every disadvantage that goes with them.

So assuming that the addiction view is accepted, the logic runs the opposite way. You want to make it harder for people to become addicted to harmful things, so you pass laws to discourage use and encourage rehabilitation. Therefore, banning same-sex marriage (and ideally civil unions) is a way of discouraging gay people from committing to relationships, making stable commitment harder and forcing us to see opposite-sex relationships as preferable alternatives. Similarly, with the Freudian model, the idea is that making same-sex relationships less appealing will lead people back to heterosexuality.

The problem, of course, is that they're so completely wrong about every aspect of this that it's absurd. And here we get to the part I don't understand, and will never be able to understand: why don't they figure this out? Why is it so hard to realize that the sex-addiction model of homosexuality completely fails to account for monogamous same-sex couples, gay virgins/happily single gay people like yours truly, heterosexually monogamous bisexual-identified people, and indeed most of the gay/bi community because most people aren't awfully promiscuous actually? Or that the Freudian model, besides being rejected by the psychiatric community, fails to explain any variety of bisexual? It doesn't compute, for me.


so sick of this all

We've got a long haul until March. Let's have analysis to fill it up!

Someone was talking about the importance of communication and understanding and how the other side had their reasons today, and that got me thinking. It's hard for me, because on the one hand, I hate having to do this. We shouldn't have to fight this one. We have a society that, by and large, recognizes the importance of equality. Legally, at any rate, we recognize that racial inequality is wrong, that people with disabilities need accommodations, that men and women deserve equal respect. (Socially, we often don't recognize areas where these ideals are not applied, but they are embedded in our laws now.) And it took so long, and so much heartbreak and struggle, that it is unthinkable to me that we could now ignore that legacy. How can a society full of people who have lived through the civil rights movement and the women's movement, or been taught about them in their history classes, fail to recognize the same story with a simple search-and-replace? How can I possibly have to fight this battle as though it were new? It's completely unfair.

On the other hand, as my dad always used to tell me when I complained about some unjust family rule, life isn't fair. Whether we like it or not, we have to fight this, and we have to give it our all, and we have to be better than the best people if we want to stand a chance of winning. So I suppose I recognize that feeling how unfair it is doesn't really help, at all.

I do find myself increasingly frustrated by the call for dialog, though. I think we've got a cultural fallacy, brought about by "fair" press coverage of everything, that says that if there are two different views on a subject, they must be afforded equal respect. This is bullshit. The two sides of the "debate" on global warming are not equally valid -- one is supported by the overwhelming majority of the scientific community, and the other by a small fringe group. The two sides of the "debate" on whether same-sex couples make good parents are not equal -- scientific evidence firmly supports the affirmative position. Ditto, well, most gay stuff. It is biologically caused, neither a mental illness nor a cause of mental illness, and immutable. These are what we call facts and they are supported by scientific evidence, so they're not at all equal to the beliefs supported by people's personal beliefs and discredited studies conducted by wingnuts like this guy. And these and other facts clearly show that being gay is, yes, a status equally worthy of the law's protection as race, gender, national origin, disability, etc.

The Yes side deceived the people, used low-down tricks, and is now hiding behind faith and so-called democracy all to justify subverting the American system to attack a vulnerable minority. They do not deserve equal respect to the people they hurt, and their opinions do not deserve to be heard in "civilized discourse" as though they were legitimate, because while they may be valid opinions for individuals to hold, they aren't legitimate parts of any political or even philosophical debate. There is a wrong and a right here, and they're in the wrong.

I'll probably still end up debating them and trying to listen to them, because as I said before, we have to do things that we shouldn't even have to consider doing if we're going to win this. Which is why, today, I hate the world.

P. S. Oh, here, have a link: antigay campaigns cause depression in LGBT people. Gosh, really? I only came the closest I've ever been to suicidal in November, so I am of course totally shocked by this.


the latest and a moment for other people

An interesting look at how various hypothetical votes from the African-American community would have affected Prop. 8.

You've probably heard by now that the Supreme Court is going to review the challenges to Prop. 8, but won't be staying it. We probably won't know the outcome until at least March, so while we're waiting I suggest we continue to fight where we can.

The latest I've been seeing is people saying we shouldn't be protesting churches, or we shouldn't be protesting at all. The idea is that we've got to show everyone how nice we are so they'll get around to giving us our rights. The trouble with this idea is that a) GLBT people are an "invisible" minority, meaning unless we consciously put ourselves out there nobody knows it's us being nice, and b) everybody else is too busy taking care of their own needs to worry about minorities (or other minorities.) We need to be loud to get dialog going. If I may quote Martin Luther King Jr.'s Letter From Birmingham Jail here, he makes my point:
You may well ask: "Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches and so forth? Isn't negotiation a better path?" You are quite right in calling, for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused to negotiate is forced to confront the issue. It seeks so to dramatize the issue that it can no longer be ignored. My citing the creation of tension as part of the work of the nonviolent-resister may sound rather shocking. But I must confess that I am not afraid of the word "tension." I have earnestly opposed violent tension, but there is a type of constructive, nonviolent tension which is necessary for growth.

In short, you have to start the conversation first.

Today is the 10th annual International Transgender Day of Remembrance, so I'd like to take a moment to address someone else's fight here. Because transpeople get treated like shit by the general population, even gay/bi people who really ought to know better, and far too often people brutally murder them in cold blood and get away with it, and it's wrong. So take a moment -- read this year's names and think about what you can do to stop the hate, because we all should do something.


don't forget:

Tomorrow, 10:30 AM PST.

Join The Impact is, not surprisingly, planning more actions. Check out their ideas.

This is pretty awesome. I have to say I love those Mormons, whether they're acting for themselves or for their friends or just because they know it's right.

An interesting side-note about that latter link: during the campaign, my father got a call from someone claiming to be doing a poll about Prop. 8, wanting to know how he felt about, and I quote, "the fact that gay marriage will be taught in schools." My father, annoyed at the biased way the question was formed, questioned the neutrality of the poll, but the pollster denied supporting one side or the other. The organization he said was conducting the poll? "Lawrence Research." Now we're hearing about the son of "Gary Lawrence, 67, who is the 'State LDS Grassroots Director' for the state of California. [...] the President of Lawrence Research." I'm going to go ahead and say it: the Yes On 8 side lied. In other news, the Pope is still believed to be Catholic.

I can't help wondering. Shouldn't having to lie to advocate your cause be a pretty good indicator that you're on the wrong side?


links, and tolerating intolerance

(This unobligingly posted with only part of the subject line written. Crossing my fingers that it doesn't do so again.)

This article talks about the abstraction of the No campaign, and of course the fallout in terms of blame.

Here's an awesome analysis of the term "traditional marriage" and how it's misleading.

We can expect a ruling on Prop. 8's legality any day now, according to the Sacramento Bee.

I've been reading a lot more articles about the gay vs. Mormon clashes than I've been posting, and I've been seeing a theme in them. The Mormons interviewed complain that we're being unreasonable, intolerant, and unChristlike. I would like to address those things, not because I think any Mormons are reading this but because I need to talk about this:

1) Unreasonable. Calls for "civility" and complaints that we're, in effect, overreacting. I'm going to have to go pure Californian here and say: dude, your actions regulated how I can live my life. Your actions made me a second-class citizen, a special exemption to the constitutional guarantee of equality. There is no such thing as an overreaction to something like this. There are imprudent reactions, like hateful words and violence, but they're understandable, and arise from the perfectly logical state of being really fucking hurt and angry.

2) Intolerant. A common claim is that nobody who claims to value "tolerance" can actually complain about other people's lack thereof, because that would be intolerant of their intolerance. Quite apart from the odiousness of the word "tolerance," which implies that we should be damn' grateful we're not being lynched, that's a load of poppycock. I do not have to put up with having my rights trampled on, being insulted or attacked, or otherwise being hurt just because I don't want those things to happen. That would make no sense whatsoever. Look, you live your life however you want to, say and do what you want in private, work for your interests, no problem. But your right to swing your fist stops at my nose, and if you don't recognize that and decide to hit me I can complain or take action against you without, in any way, challenging your right to swing your fist in general. Accepting our differences is quite different from accepting other people's attempts to crush them out of us.

3) UnChristlike. Let's review: Jesus sat with the prostitutes and the tax collectors, cured the Roman centurion's servant (or, probably, lover,) told people not to judge each other, and specifically said that you go to heaven by being kind and helping people, not by being faithful necessarily. The question, then, is: would Christ a) condemn gays and go out of His way to make our lives harder, b) condemn gays but "tolerate" us, or c) sit down with us and show His love and acceptance as He did with the prostitutes? Two other texts to consider: John 8:7 and especially Matthew 23:13. And on that latter:

Force does not produce faith. You save no souls by hatred, condemnation, judgment, and oppression. Nobody wants to join you because you tell them, "you're a bad person and doomed to hellfire." Rather, that condemnation drives people away. It has taken me years to accept that Christianity does not mean hate, because when I look at the way self-labeled Christians behave I see too often arrogance, judgment, and lack of compassion. It took me years, with a church full of people who really were loving and non-judgmental supporting me, to hear the word "God" without a stab of fear. You're damaging your church, and making it poorer, with this lawmaking attempt, and it's not going to make people more moral by any standard. Morality cannot be imposed; it must come from the individual's choice, or it is not morality, just meaningless obedience.


just a quickie

I know I do go on dreadfully about the importance of not being racist, but here, have an analysis of why Obama's getting out the black vote didn't pass Prop. 8.

And, you guys, I have to say, I'm less and less thrilled with the Mormons all the time. I love the ones who are sticking their necks out, though, in the face of excommunication threats and goodness only knows what else. Thank you, supportive Mormons.


link roundup

It's always the same -- no sooner do I post a round of links than I find new ones to add. Here we go:

Coverage on Pam's House Blend and The Advocate of how 43 California Legislators have filed a friend-of-court brief in the case to overturn Prop. 8 on constitutional grounds. They're in favor of constitutional changes of this magnitude going through them, not just directly to the people.

Shame On LDS is a site from "ex-Mormons, Reform Mormons, members of the LDS Church itself, and non-Mormons" who are opposed to Prop. 8 and want to apologize to California's GLB community for the LDS Church's behavior in this. Thank you, friends.

News story about vandalism of Mormon churches. While I do not support the destruction of others' property, as it is both legally and morally wrong and makes us look bad, I got a certain level of twisted amusement out of the quote from a Mormon about her church being vandalized:

"Seeing my church where I come every Sunday... it kind of just hurt in a way. I feel badly for those people that have such anger within them that they would do something like this... I just hope that people’s hearts will be softened, that they will realize the Gospel... teaches us to love one another and not do things like this."

Hey, Pot? Meet Kettle. I think you two have something in common.

Finally, a couple from Orange County is skipping the state level and going to the federal court system to challenge Prop. 8. (WARNING: do not read the comments, you will hurt yourself.) I am very wary of taking gay rights to the current US Supreme Court, so I don't think it's a good idea, but we'll have to see.

I'd like to remind you all that Join The Impact (now on a faster, better server!) is still organizing, around the country, protests for this Saturday, November 15th.


link, don't be racist idiots

Arnold Schwarzenegger has had an up-and-down relationship with the gay community. He's officially opposed marriage equality, favoring civil unions; he has vetoed two bills to legalize same-sex marriage, claiming that the courts should settle the constitutionality first; he has spoken out against Prop. 8 and for maintaining the right to marry; and he is now telling us not to give up. Basically, he's always been on the side of the status quo. But it's nice to have him publicly with us, this time, especially because I wrote to him the other day asking for just that -- the Governor of California is not, evidently, blind to his people's pain.

Here's an interesting look at the race statistics that are being bandied around, and why they might be completely misleading. It addresses the "blame the blacks" strategy, so I'd like to say something about the blame for the Latin@ and Asian communities.

I don't remember when the first Yes On 8 ad came out in Spanish, but it was a month or two before the election. The first Spanish-language No ad came out... a week before the election. Basically, Latin@s had lies pouring in, unchallenged, for weeks there, and probably by the time we got around to remembering their existence they'd mostly made up their minds. So isn't it an amazingly good sign that they were, by the available data, pretty evenly split on the issue?

Then there's the Asian community. I see people tossing in "Asians" with Latin@s and African-Americans in their discussion, which I think shows where they really come from because the Asian community, according to polls conducted before the election, overwhelmingly opposed Prop. 8. And I trust those polls a little more.

And the moral of this blog post, ladies and gentlemen and others, is "don't be racist -- it's stupid."


link of the day and about the court system

First I'd like to point out "Join The Impact," which is organizing national protests, at the moment for November 15th but I expect other dates will emerge if nothing changes.

Second, I've been reading the text of the ACLU's writ petition (PDF format) which they've submitted to the Supreme Court, and I feel comfortable saying that their argument is convincing. I'd like to, for the benefit of those who are allergic to legalese, try to explain what it's about.

Turns out -- and I didn't realize this before -- there are two different ways to change the California Constitution. One is amendment, which may be done through the initiative process that was used to pass Prop. 8. The other is revision, in which the proposed change must go through the legislature before being submitted to the people for their vote. The key distinction is that an amendment adds something new that does not conflict with the current constitution, the principles underlying it, or the principles underlying the system of government. You can't reintroduce segregation by amendment (even if that weren't covered by the US Constitution as well) because it's in conflict with the principles underlying the constitution. You can't declare a dictatorship because it conflicts with the principles underlying the system of government. Etc.

Now, at the time that Prop. 8 was first being drafted, it would have been an amendment. There was no actual understanding that same-sex couples possessed the right to marry, though marriage (to the person of one's choice) has been known to be a fundamental right in California since 1948. That changed when the court ruled. Suddenly, the law officially recognized that the fundamental right of marriage belonged to gay, lesbian, and bisexual Californians too, under the principles underlying the California Constitution.

Thus, Prop. 8 is no longer a legitimate amendment. It is now officially in conflict with the principles underlying the constitution, and as such, counts as a revision. So it can't be valid law, they argue, because it wasn't passed in the appropriate manner.

A bigger problem, and one that they touched on, is this: we have three branches of government in the US, and in the state of California. The legislative branch makes law, generally only if it has the cooperation of the executive branch, and then the judicial branch makes sure that the law is consistent and just. The judicial branch's chief purpose is to ensure that the majority, through their representatives in the legislature or directly through the popular vote, doesn't abuse its power and the minority. If the majority thinks that a minority shouldn't be allowed to vote, or own land, or live in the nice part of town, or marry who they choose, it's the courts' job to prevent them from just making it so because they can.

Thus, the court acted properly in overturning the majority opinion that banned same-sex marriage the first time. They were protecting a minority from the tyranny of the majority. Now, what Prop. 8 did was basically say "no, the majority really wants this so you can't stop it." And if you think about that, that destroys the purpose of the court system completely if allowed to stand, and thus ruins minority protections. Suddenly, hey, if the majority wants to take your rights away, they'll do it. Doesn't matter if you know you're constitutionally guaranteed them -- if the majority dislikes you, they can override anything they want. It's a very dangerous thing for all minorities.

I don't think there's any question what the Supreme Court will say. The question is, will the people understand? Will they remember their education, all those years ago, about the branches of government? Or have we, as I fear is true, lost our reverence for the courts in our fear of "activist judges"? I'm afraid of backlash, when the court speaks. One way or another, this is getting uglier.


end-of-day links-I've-found roundup

I thought people should read this opinion piece from the Advocate which highlights what I suppose might be called the positive effect of Prop. 8.

This piece in the Huffington Post talks about why the decisions in California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas are particularly crushing in light of Obama's victory.

Finally, a petition to revoke the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' tax-exempt status. I confess to mixed feelings about this.

On the one hand, Mormons funded a huge percentage of the Yes On 8 campaign. The church leaders commanded their members to donate, and those who opposed the measure were threatened with excommunication. For an organization to attempt to force its members to vote a certain way or fund a certain political cause is morally wrong and legally dubious, especially for a nonprofit. For a church to go to such levels to put its values into law is contrary to the American value of separation of church and state, and should not be encouraged. So I would say there's a very good argument to be made for taking away the Mormons' tax-exempt status, since they're abusing it.

On the other hand, it feels like a waste of effort. We need to be fighting for ourselves right now, not against them. We need to be doing our damnedest to get our rights back, to get the people on our side. And I recognize that crippling our opponents financially might be part of that, if it comes down to putting a new law on the ballot, and in that sense one could say that stripping the Mormons of their tax-exempt status would be somewhat helpful, but would it really be more useful than working extra hard on our own fundraising? Is this really a productive action, or is it just vengeance?

In the interest of full disclosure, I signed the petition, because I do believe it's justified and since there is a movement I want it to be a strong one, but I did so in haste and I still am not sure it was the right thing to do. I advise you to think about it carefully before deciding what to do.

day 3: enough is enough

Links of the day:

-Anti-8 protesters were allegedly beaten and arrested in West Hollywood. I say "alleged" because I don't know the details, but there is photographic evidence.

-The Bilerico Project has a collection of links, including Melissa Etheridge's refusal to pay state taxes and accounts of racism at anti-8 protests.

-Wayne Besen of Truth Wins Out has written an excellent column about that racism.

In another Bilerico Project post, the question of why gay Americans apparently were more supportive of John Kerry than of Barack Obama led me to write this letter, which I sent to the Democratic Party:
I'm leaving the party for a third party shortly, and I wanted to comment as to why.

I'm gay, and as long as I have been involved in politics, every election, one theme has been consistent: the party leadership and the mainstream candidates have been careful to avoid fully supporting my rights. They say that supporting gay rights is political suicide, that we'll just have to wait our turn.

Last night I read a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: "This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.'" And looking at how the only major area of failure for progressive values this election was gay issues, it's become clear to me that his words hold true for my struggle as well.

I will no longer wait.

I know that this message will never reach the leaders of what I once considered my party, but I need to write it. Because it's important that it be recorded why I've jumped ship.

EDIT TO ADD one more link: EQCA wants people to sign a petition saying "I demand my equality back. I commit to getting marriage equality back on the ballot if we don't win in court." Pass the word.


news and the calm

Today the No On 8 campaign officially admitted defeat. I am not surprised. There are, I understand, two challenges to the method by which the constitution was changed. The legal impact, thus, may not be significant, but the psychological impact on both sides of the battle is likely to be huge, as the GLB community is demoralized by popular opposition, particularly from liberals and members of other minorities, and the general population is likely to resent being overruled. (The job of the courts is and has always been to protect the minority from the majority's will where that will hurts the minority, and thus it is perfectly appropriate for them to act to defend gays; more on this later.)

I've been seeing a lot of discussion on the internet, and specifically I think people should see this post about race and the election and this article from the Advocate. I emphasize the first, because it and its comments highlight a significant problem: people are responding to hate with hate, to bigotry with bigotry. That's wrong and ineffective. I know I'm angry, have been angry, have voiced my anger. I know for a lot of people, blaming the African-American community or the Latino community or even President-Elect Obama is a manifestation of anger, but it is the kind of manifestation that we must avoid at all costs. If we attack anyone, let it be the people who invented lies and twisted the truth to convince California voters to rob same-sex couples of their legal recognition. But passing a blanket judgment on a fellow minority is hypocrisy of the highest order and white gay people who even think for a moment that it is acceptable should be truly ashamed of themselves.

You don't win battles like this by violent means -- actions or words. You have to rise above, be better than human, before being recognized as human. The gay community needs to look, appropriately, to Martin Luther King Jr., and remember that what allowed him to have the impact he had, to touch the lives he touched, is that he met hate with love and violence with nonviolence. And he believed in equality for all. That's how you do it. You don't back down and you don't let yourself be walked on, but you hold your moral high ground and you hold your truth and you open yourself up for attack and don't fight back. It sucks, but it's true. We need to stay above the personal attacks, stay above the rude words and sweeping generalizations. And we absolutely cannot claim to advocate for equality unless we stand also against all other forms of discrimination -- if we embrace racism, we become the oppressor.

Last night I was contemplating how a lot of people have suggested that the reason Prop. 8 could pass was that people think they don't know any gay people, so they abstract us and don't think about us as people. And it seemed to me, well, if that's true, the way to win the battle in the hearts and minds of the people is to be really definitely and unavoidably out. We need to let them know that gay people are their relatives, their friends, their neighbors and coworkers, the people they pass on the street. So this morning, I got up and I wrote "Victim of Prop. 8" on a piece of paper which I then pinned to my chest, and I went to school.

My first class was canceled -- the teacher showed up to tell us, then bolted. No sooner had we gotten out of the classroom than I found myself surrounded by classmates. A boy I had never made eye contact with before read the sign, offered up a high-five, and then abruptly decided that that wasn't right and changed it to a hug. About ten people offered sympathy, boggled over what had happened, and promised that it would be all right. After a while we disbanded and I crossed the campus to my other class, stopped along the way by a young woman who let out a horrified "it PASSED?" and seemed totally shattered when I confirmed it.

In front of the next classroom, I met a woman from whom I took a class some semesters back. She offered sympathy and a hug. Another woman joined in the sympathy, though she told me that I shouldn't use the word "victim" because it gives the other side too much power. (My dad told me the same this morning; I hold that the other side does have power, and that I need to convince them to use it responsibly, but I recognize that this may be an uninformed view.) Then, as I was prowling around the building, my teacher noticed me from his office and called me in to tell me how disappointed he had been and to offer support and encouragement for the long term. My classmates were likewise supportive -- one gave me a hug and told me firmly that it would be all right, and others offered a mixture of support and commiseration.

Waiting for the bus, I caught the attention of an older Mexican woman, who said "yes" in heavily accented English and gave me a supportive thumbs-up. On the bus, a young woman nodded and said "me too" and we talked for about fifteen minutes. Later, another young woman told me about going to her friends' wedding and what it meant to her, and we talked about equality and culture, and she told me I was "beautiful" for being out and in this fight. Finally, when I got off the bus another woman turned to me and said simply, "I support your rights."

My county voted, 71.4% to 28.6, against Prop. 8. So I wasn't surprised. But it was a very strengthening, encouraging, faith-in-humanity-restoring thing, to feel their support today.

People tell me sometimes that I'm brave. I don't see it that way. I'm not Martin Luther King Jr., facing death for speaking out about my needs. The worst that will happen to me around here is that someone taunts me. But this is what I can do to strengthen my allies and hopefully win a few new ones in time, so it's what I'm doing. And I hope that my friends -- gay ones, bi ones, and straight ones alike -- will surpass me in their courage and their strength and speak out as loudly.


an open letter to the people of California

Dear people of California:

Do you know what it feels like to have your heart torn out and stomped on?

Because if not, I invite you to spend an hour as me. Specifically, the hour starting when I woke up this morning and checked the Secretary of State's website to find that there was no longer any doubt: Prop. 8 is passing.

That was my life you just legislated. My future. My dreams. It had nothing to do with you.

More than that, I trusted you. I felt safe. California's been the state with the best protections for GLBT people for as long as I've known anything about it. It's been the state I could be proud to belong to even when I was ashamed of my country. Now that's all flipped upside down. I'm proud of my country today, but ashamed of my state. I don't feel safe -- if this could happen now, here, what's next? And I definitely don't trust you. Not with my life. Not with my safety. Not with my basic rights. Because you've shown that I can't.

I'm a Christian. I believe in forgiveness and turning the other cheek. But right now I wish I could package up all the pain and rage and grief in my heart right now and make every person who drew that line on their ballot feel them, so that you could understand what you've done. I wish I could be, right now, on every street corner in the state, saying this for all of you to hear. I want you to know this isn't an abstract issue. This is about real people's real lives. This is about my wedding day, which may never come now. This is about the kids who threw stuff at me on the bus because I wanted them to stop using "gay" as an insult. This is about the fifteen-year-old who was shot through the head at school for being gay and crossdressing. It's about the flash of fear I feel whenever I come out to a stranger, even in my little bubble of gay-friendliness that is Santa Cruz proper. It's about a society that hurts people for being different.

People like me.

I love this state. I love its people. I think it wouldn't hurt so much if I didn't, because being attacked by people you love is the deepest kind of betrayal. And so I'm in great pain right now. Last night for the first time in my life I deliberately got drunk, and it was because of Prop. 8. When I figured out, a week ago, how I would kill myself if I ever were that desperate, the reason I thought about it was Prop. 8. Today when I lay on the floor of my home crying and my family couldn't comfort me, it was because of Prop. 8.

What have you accomplished? Nothing. There was no threat to your religious freedoms -- churches were not, are not and will never be required to marry anyone. There was no danger of "children being taught homosexuality in schools" -- children are already and will still be taught that some of their peers may have two moms or two dads, and sex ed will not be changed. Besides, teaching children that homosexuality exists isn't a bad thing. It will not make them gay, only help keep the gay ones (yes, there are gay children!) and the children of gay couples from being beaten up -- hardly a dangerous result. You see, being gay is not a choice -- or do you seriously think I woke up one morning and went "hey, self, I sure would like to be a member of a hated minority and have to fight for the basic civil rights that everyone else takes for granted"? Prop. 8 accomplished nothing. It just fueled a culture of hate and injustice that I was beginning to hope was dying out. Congratulations, California. I hope you're damn' proud of yourselves.