Reflections on Election Day

posted by Wiggsy Sivertsen

Monday, November 10, 2008, at

An election mixed with great joy and deep sadness. Hard not to be confused by these colliding emotions. On the one hand I want to dance in the streets for joy, not only for "President Obama," but also for us as a nation to have the capacity to "do the right thing." However, with all this joy comes much sadness because of the loss of Proposition 8, the anti-Gay Marriage Initiative.

It is exceedingly hard to realize that we spent 80+ million dollars to campaign for the right to deny or protect a significant number of California's citizens equality. What is more difficult is the realization that this campaign was a religious crusade against the lesbian and gay community led by the Vatican, the Mormon Church and the Religious Right. This fact is perhaps the most frightening and dangerous aspect of this battle. The idea that a vast number of Californians willingly participated in this "crusade" opens the door to the erosion of the line between church and state. Preachers using the Sunday pulpit to command their members to vote for or against Prop. 8. The voice of the Vatican leveraging its power against priests and nuns who openly disagreed with the initiative and were summarily dismissed from their parish positions for disobedience to the Pope.

Add to this the inability of the many of the African American and Latino/a communities to see beyond their own biases, instead voting in significant numbers to support the institutionalization of discrimination in the California State Constitution. It is clear that these communities do not acknowledge the vast numbers of gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered children within their own communities. It is also clear, that we in the GLBT community need to work harder to make room for the many African American and Latino/a members in our community and encourage them to take visible leadership roles.

However, in all of this, there were significant positive gains for the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community. Here in Santa Clara County there was a great demonstration of the friendship and support from our "straight" allies in the Democratic Party, the Labor Movement and regular citizens who campaigned as ardently as we did to defeat this Christian Crusade. It was evident that there were many who truly believe that the GLBT community deserves to be treated as equal citizens and have all the privileges that all citizens in the state of Californians enjoy. It was also clear that the notion of placing discrimination in the California State Constitution is a dangerous precedent that could, in the future, be used against other communities and therefore, needed to be stopped.

But beyond the oblivious political issues in this campaign there were many personal stories. The most heartwarming of these stories was the genuine sadness and disappointment in the hearts of our "straight" allies. The past several years of working together on a variety of issues resulted in the most personal and valuable of all gains. That is the blending of our many communities together as one, fighting side by side to create a better world for everyone.

On June 23, 1994, at a press conference for the introduction of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) Coretta Scott King said the following: "The great promise of American democracy is that no group of people will be forced to suffer discrimination and injustice." We will continue this fight.

One way or another we will win the right to marry the person we love.



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