Thursday, October 9, 2008

Please vote NO on California Proposition 8

I wasn't going to use this blog for campaign purposes, other than those related to energy and the environment, but this is a matter too important and close to my heart.

California Proposition 8 is purposely misleading. It intends to take away the rights of some of our citizens to marry, a constitutional right that was established by the California Supreme Court last spring. The video below tells what marriage in California might be like if you vote "yes" - and being Californians, they've used humor to present the message:

Vote NO on Prop 8 if you live in California!
But that was too late for my very dear colleague and friend, Michael Stern, who died alone of an aneurism, without his partner of many years, Jim, whose daughters he helped raise, because they were not "related."

In memory of Michael or your own friends,
please vote NO on Prop 8 if you live in California.


bonbayel said...

I have gotten some interesting emails about No on Proposition 8.

Here are some of them:

From Jim Miller at Brave New Foundation:

Our friend Anthony Romero, the Executive Director of ACLU, sent us a letter recently asking for our help in pushing defeat of Proposition 8 which asks the citizens of California to deny marriage to same sex couples. He wrote an emotional and highly personal letter which we are sharing with you below.

Although I am not known for sharing my own personal life, I wanted to add a few words of my own regarding this Proposition.

I grew up in New York in a Catholic family going to church every Sunday (okay, sometimes we went to the 5pm Saturday mass) and believing in my heart that God loved everyone equally. As I grew older, I learned that although God may love everyone equally, the people made in his image had other thoughts about the issue. My family and the morals they taught me growing up shaped me to be who I am today. It is the reason why I ended up in the career I have now, helping to shine a light on social justice issues to fight injustices and hopefully make the world a better place for everyone.

It is also the reason why I wanted to have a family of my own, but I wasn't allowed to because I am gay. Instead of fighting for my rights, I denied my sexuality and thought it easier, no BETTER, to conform to acceptable society. I was wrong. I made the mistake of getting married to a woman to satisfy my need to have a family.

Luckily I met someone with a good heart and although we are no longer married, we are still close friends. From that experience I was able to confront my own shame for being who I am and to realize that the only thing 'wrong' with being gay is the stigma placed on a person's personal sexuality by the Government's refusal to treat gays equally under the law.

Now, better people than me have been fighting for all of us, and there is a chance that we can get closer to equal rights. There is an opportunity here to allow men and women to fulfill the simple dream of being together in the state of matrimony for as long as they both shall live. When you think about it, the vows should be the easy part. The hard part is finding the person you want to be with for that damn long!

I hope that you all vote NO on Proposition 8 this Tuesday, and that you go one step further by sending a personal e-mail to 10 of your friends letting them know why you are voting NO.

Thank you for reading and as always, thanks for your support.
Jim Miller
Executive Director
Brave New Foundation
Brave New Foundation

bonbayel said...

And this is the letter Jim Miller refered to:

From ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero:

I'm angry and heartsick about what may happen in California on November 4th.

In the most personal way possible, I'm writing to ask you for a favor: help us ensure that gay couples all across California keep their fundamental right to marriage -- the basic right to be treated just like anybody else.

Anthony Romero, ACLU

I hope you will forgive the indulgence when I speak from the heart and tell you my personal story.

You see, I grew up in a loving and supportive household, where my family believed I could be anything I chose -- anything except being an openly gay man. Neither of my parents finished high school, and yet, they believed I could accomplish all I set out to do as I went off to Princeton University and Stanford Law School.

They got me through the toughest of times, scrimped and saved, and always believed that failure wasn't in the cards for me. They had more faith in me than I often had in myself. Whenever my parents visited me at Princeton, my Dad would slip a $20 bill in my pocket when my Mom wasn't looking. I never had the courage to tell him that the $20 wouldn't go very far towards my bills, books and tuition. But, it was his support and belief in me that sustained me more than the tens of thousands of dollars I received in scholarships.

When I finished college, they were hugely proud of my -- and their -- accomplishments. That was until I told them I was gay and wanted to live life as an openly gay man.

Though I always knew I was gay, I didn't come out to them for many years, as I was afraid of losing the love and support that had allowed me to succeed against all odds. When I did tell them, they cried and even shouted. I ended up leaving their home that night to spend a sleepless night on a friend's sofa. We were all heartbroken.

When my Mom and I spoke later, my Mom said, "But, Antonio (that's the name she uses with me), hasn't your life been hard enough? People will hurt you and hate you because of this." She, of course, was right -- as gay and lesbian people didn't only suffer discrimination from working class, Puerto Rican Catholics, but from the broader society. She felt that I had escaped the public housing projects in the Bronx, only to suffer another prejudice -- one that might be harder to beat -- as the law wasn't on my side. At the time, it felt like her own homophobia. Now I see there was also a mother's love and a real desire to protect her son. She was not wrong at a very fundamental level. She knew that treating gay and lesbian people like second class citizens -- people who may be worthy of "tolerance, " as Sarah Palin asserts, but not of equality -- was and still is the last socially-acceptable prejudice.

Even before I came out to them, I struggled to accept myself as a gay man. I didn't want to lose the love of my family, and I wanted a family of my own -- however I defined it. I ultimately chose to find my own way in life as a gay man. This wasn't as easy as it sounds even though it was the mid-1980s. I watched loved ones and friends die of AIDS. I was convinced I would never see my 40th birthday, much less find a partner whom I could marry.

As years passed, my Mom, Dad and I came to a peace, and they came to love and respect me for who I am. They even came to defend my right to live with equality and dignity -- often fighting against the homophobia they heard among their family and friends and in church.

The right to be equal citizens and to marry whomever we wish -- unimaginable to me when I first came out -- is now ours to lose in California unless we stand up for what's right. All of us must fight against what's wrong. In my 43 short years of life, I have seen gay and lesbian people go from pariahs and objects of legally-sanctioned discrimination to being on the cusp of full equality. The unimaginable comes true in our America if we make it happen. But, it requires effort and struggle.
One of the things I love about the ACLU is that it's an organization that understands we are all in this together. We recognize that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Given what's at stake in the outcome of this election, I am personally appealing to you for help to fight the forces of intolerance from carrying the day in California next Tuesday.

If you have friends and family in California, please contact them right now, and ask them to vote NO on Proposition 8. You can send them a message here.

We need to make sure people keep in mind that gay people are part of every family and every community -- that like everyone else, gay people want the same rights to commit to their partners, to take care of each other and to take responsibility for each other. We shouldn't deny that, and we shouldn't write discrimination into any constitution in any state. Certainly, we can't let that happen in California after the highest court in the state granted gay and lesbian people their full equality.

Unfortunately, due to a vicious, deceitful $30 million advertising blitz, the supporters of Prop 8 may be within days of taking that fundamental right away.

To stop the forces of discrimination from succeeding, we have to win over conflicted voters who aren't sure they're ready for gay marriage but who are also uncomfortable going into a voting booth and stripping away people's rights. With the ACLU contributing time, energy and millions of dollars to the effort, we're working hard to reach those key voters before next Tuesday.

If you have friends and family in California, please contact them right now, and ask them to vote NO on Proposition 8. Share this email with them. Call them. Direct them to our website for more information.

Don't let other young people grow up to be afraid to be who they are because of the discrimination and prejudice they might face. Let them see a future that the generation before them couldn't even dream of -- a future as full and equal citizens of the greatest democracy on earth.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." As we strive to defeat Prop 8 and the injustice it represents, the ACLU is trying to make that arc a little shorter.
On behalf of my Mom and family, and on behalf of all the people who will never face legally-sanctioned discrimination, I thank you for being part of this struggle and for doing everything you can to help.

It is a privilege and honor to have you as allies in this fight for dignity and equality.
With enormous appreciation,

Anthony D. Romero
Executive Director

bonbayel said...

And more emails - this from the The Courage Campaign.
(BTW the link to Jim Miller's Brave New Foundation was wrong in the first comment - I forgot the :.)

"Religious conservatives have cast the campaign in California as the decisive last stand, warning in stunningly apocalyptic terms of dire consequences to the entire nation if Proposition 8 does not pass." -- Laurie Goodstein, New York Times, October 26

The religious right is calling Proposition 8 its "decisive last stand" -- an "Armageddon"-like battle to pass a ballot measure that would "eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry."

We couldn't agree more. This fight for our fundamental rights will shape the future of the progressive movement for decades to come, both in California and across the country.

The Mormon Church is on the front lines of this culture war, having intimidated members into contributing more than $10 million to pass Prop 8. But they are not alone in their rabid devotion to discrimination.

This Saturday, several ultra-right-wing religious groups will be gathering 70,000 evangelicals together in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium for "The Call" -- a mega-church event that will mobilize thousands of out-of-state volunteers to get out the vote in Califonia.

Please watch this shocking promo video for "The Call" right now. This is what we're up against. And we need to respond with a "call" of our own -- a call to volunteer for the "No on 8" campaign across California this weekend and on Election Day.

These religious extremists also want to pass Proposition 4 -- the "parental notification" ballot measure that medical professionals and progressive organizations agree would endanger teen safety.

According to Lou Engel, a leader behind "The Call," the "Lord" has sent "powerful directives" to him to host this unprecedented event on November 1. In a revealing article about the religious right's campaign to dictate public policy to Californians, the New York Times reported that:
"Preachers from other parts of the country have dropped everything and moved to California in recent months. Lou Engle, who leads The Call, a charismatic prayer ministry in Washington and Kansas City, Mo., with a large following among youth, moved with his seven children to California in September. He is holding large prayer rallies up and down the state, urging people to pray and fast for the 40 days leading up to the election. Some people are giving up solid foods; others are giving up clothes shopping or their favorite television shows."

What will you give up in the next 6 days to protect marriage equality and at-risk teenagers? We need to respond with a "call" of our own -- a call to volunteer for the "No on 4" and the "No on 8" campaigns across California.

bonbayel said...

Unfortunately, Prop 8 was passed, but the margin was much smaller than the vote about 2000, so there is an improvement.
If you'd like to get involved in future campains, go to Courage Campaign with Repeal Prop 8 and The Human Rights campaign.