Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Goin' to California with an achin' in my heart

As a straight ally who works for the ACLU, I try to keep in touch with what's going on in the LGBT community. I regularly tune in to OutQ, Sirius Satellite Radio's 24-7 gay channel, and of course, my gay friends give me good perspective.

The reality of what happened last week in California on Prop 8 set in for me over the last few days. Until the final results came in on Thursday, I held out hope that discrimination would be rejected. On my ride home from work on Friday, I tuned in Michelangelo Signorile, and the outrage from his listeners was clear. And it was righteous.

Other anti-LGBT measures passed in Arizona, Florida, and Arkansas, but California clearly touches a nerve. We expect California to be a leader in civil rights. The Cali Supreme Court overturned the state ban on interracial marriage 20 years before the US Supreme Court did it.

Based on the first week's reaction, though, it appears that this could be a galvanizing moment. Protests are popping up throughout California and in other states, and a nationwide action is planned for Saturday. There's even chatter of a march on Washington.

Matt Coles of our LGBT & AIDS Project puts things in perspective, though, giving us all an opportunity to take a deep breath:
Even in famously liberal San Francisco, we had to go through the process of trying to pass a simple domestic partnership law five times, and we lost twice. If you run up an unbroken string of victories in any battle for civil rights, that simply means you waited too long to get to work. Change that matters is never smooth or easy.

Meanwhile, the ACLU has sued, with others, saying that the initiative was passed improperly.

Finally, I found Keith Olbermann's "special comment" last night quite moving. I know his special comment's have fired me up in the past, but I can't recall one nearly moving me to tears. This one did.
If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Andy in Harrisburg

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