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.


Willow said...

I am so sorry. I'm not a member of your community (California or GBLT), and I will probably never meet you, but the injustice of Prop 8 affects us all. Injustice toward any one group degrades the quality of society and justice for us all.

It was not so long ago that laws would have kept families like mine, (made up of a loving multi-ethnic and racial couple) from having legal status and protections.

No, these laws could never keep us from loving each other, but they could deny us, and our children, the dignity that comes from being recognized as equal and whole under the eyes of both God and the LAW.

My sister and her wife are two of the jewels of my life. They are beloved Aunties to my sons, and they teach me everyday about the meaning of love, dignity and healthy relationships.

Do not despair. All dark hours must eventually succumb to light. Time is moving more quickly than ever, and minds are evolving in this new paradigm. Work for change, and know, with the deepest certainty that your soul can muster, that GBLT's are loved, understood and RESPECTED by more people each day.

Your Sister,

Sonja said...

Maggie. I'm so angry right now I could break something. I've been angry since Wednesday. When everybody was out celebrating, I was waiting desperately to hear the news on Prop 8... and it was all for nothing.

I just... I want to... I don't know. I just have all of this pent up rage in me after this, and all of this unwavering sorrow. There was this pride that seemed to swell in me when Obama became our President Elect. But... it seemed to deflate just as quickly when this new law that passed.

How could people let this happen? I just... I don't understand. And it's a rhetorical question, of course... I don't see how anybody - even those who voted yes on this fucking law - can even answer that question.

And I think that's what pisses me off the most. If only the people who voted Yes would sit down with a well spoken LGBT supporter, I'm sure they could see that what they're doing is wrong. I've done it before. I've swayed conservatives to second guess even admit that their thoughts are wrong.

I hate Prop 8. I'm still gonna work against it. Passed or not passed. If Texas can finally get off its high horse and say that committing the act of homosexuality is no longer illegal, then we can freaking change this country's mind about marriage too.