Atlantis Alumni

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Proposition 8: What The Gay Community Must Do Now

Yesterday was not a good day for me. I felt as though I had been punched in the stomach.

While so many people were celebrating the results of the election, many of us in the gay community were sickened and outraged at the outcome in California. Proposition 2, which protects farm animals from abuse, passed handily, while Proposition 8, which strips gay people of a fundamental right under the California constitution, also passed. It appears that farm animals have more rights in California than do gay people.

There's plenty of blame for this to go around starting with President-elect Obama, who stated his opposition to gay marriage in an interview with MTV just a few days before the election. African-Americans voted overwhelmingly in favor of Proposition 8. Obama could have spoken out forcefully to members of the Black community against Prop 8 but he did not. Then there's the governor of California, Mr. Schwarzenegger, who promised gays he'd be there for them in this battle but did nothing. Some criticism of the tactics of the "No On 8" campaign appears to be valid. Finally, I think the gay community nationwide failed to mobilize so as to counteract the activities of the Catholic Church and its supporters, and the Mormons.

On a day when history was made with the election of our first African-American president, another kind of history was also made in California. For the first time, the right of gay and lesbian couples to legally marry was stripped away from us. This is a black day for our nation. Gay people remain the only minority without legal protections, the only minority that it's OK to verbally bash, physically harm, to hate, and to take rights away from.

The anger in some quarters of the gay community is palpable. Hopefully, this will translate into a re-energizing within our community that is long overdue. The victories won by the religious right and other gay haters might very well embolden them to seek to further marginalize gay people in this country.

We must fight back. We must demand that politicians take principled stands on our behalf in exchange for our votes. We need to detach our fight for our civil rights from a reliance on politicians from any one political party. It's not too late to turn the tide on those who hate us but we must act on our own behalf. This is no time for complacency. There should be a renewed national gay rights mobilization. We must act now.


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