For the record

An actual content-based post, for a change! But a quick one (the only way they’re gonna happen these days).

Equality California is polling folks in my fair state about their attitudes regarding a return to the ballot to repair the damage Proposition 8 wreaked upon our civil liberties.  Here’s how they put it:

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that they will not permit same-sex couples to marry while we wait for the California Supreme Court and the Court of Appeals to hear and consider the case. This announcement has sparked conversations about whether or not our state should wait for the courts to restore the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, or if we should overturn Prop. 8 at the ballot box.

Equality California is seeking input from the community and about the wisdom of moving forward with a ballot initiative. This survey is a first step in a process that will include research, conversations with coalition partners, town halls and further chances for input.

I have strong opinions about this matter, as longtime readers of this blog would know. The rest of youse: suffice to say that I wore the print off my fingertips over the battle to preserve marriage equality in CA in 2008, but also am NOT and, since Prop 13 gutted public funding for education when I was a youngster, never have been a fan of California’s proposition system to do anything besides inflame and exploit folks over inflammatory and exploitative issues.

Until faced with the wall of homophobia that all such battles bring with them (and with nauseating predictability), I did not prioritize marriage rights over others in the ongoing LGBT liberation and civil rights battle.  Since having kids, that issue has become muddled for me, because marriage rights for us empower our kids extremely efficiently (to vastly oversimplify, it’s a fast track to enabling us to pass to them our fiscal and legal protections).  Also: I’ve found it consistently unsatisfying (i.e., only fitfully effective) trying to explain “laws” to kids, and to distinguish our family’s differentiated treatment under them.  They totally get the majority/minority stuff, the distinction that “many” families or even “most” look one way, parent-wise, and “some” (like ours) look another. They get it that we’re a left-handed family in a right-handed world. The law part? The unfair treatment part? Blurry. Perhaps because here the power lies way, way outside Mama’s and Baba’s hands, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow.

I continue to harbor my same ol’ feminist critique of the cynical history of the institution, but with each passing parental year, I recognize the vertiginousness of the climb up over and ultimately past this institution as central and defining. My 6-year-old daughter just the other day learned the “first comes love, then comes marriage, then comes the baby in the baby carriage” chant. She chuckled at it (her version included the baby wearing underpants and doing the “hootchie coochie dance,” and yes, she got it from a book she was reading).  This chant rhymes nicely and appears elsewhere in culture. Before she left preschool she understood, from all the books and fairy tales she’d read, that “marriage” signified the culminating punctuation mark on committed love. Even when she knew nothing about what it was, exactly, she knew what it meant.  Its magnetic capacity to accrue gestalt-y symbolic meaning began for her circa age 3 or 4.

Don’t get me wrong: I got no problem shading that for the kids each time — commitment is commitment, ritualized; this word is about a legal contract that brings with it all sorts of financial and legal protections, etc.  I’m just saying it’s  a large sandhill we’re trying to climb up here.

So when EQ CA asked me, mailing list recipient, what I thought about going back to the ballot in 2012 to rectify the damage of Prop 8, here’s what I said, after checking every HELL NO radio button I could find:

I blogged and organized my guts out over the 2008 campaign (cf: http://www.lesbiandad.net/links/no-on-8/#meseries). Blog readers, allies, and I raised over $16,700 and am fairly sure I raised awareness and helped sway some of the swayable. And I felt totally swindled by the campaign. In retrospect feel I owe an apology to those who donated money toward it. LGBT families were inexcusably invisible, and our kids, who stand to gain the most protections, were totally shredded by the opposition with nearly nonexistent protections/ counterattacks. I was on a statewide con.call over family invisibility and the rationale was utterly unconvincing (focus group-based). Civil rights protections should never be voted upon: I believe that includes those voted IN as well as those voted OUT.  This is a JUDICIAL matter, first and last. Though I would never pick this fight, I would defend myself, my community, and my kids, every time someone else did. However I would NOT fundraise for EQ if it picked it.

So there. I’d have written buttloads more but lucky for them, they put a word count limit on the text box. [Ed note: I did write more in an account of the campaign's San Francisco debrief in March, 2009.]

You who donated through this site to that battle waged by that committee against the Yes on 8 folks: I am sorry it was waged the way it was. Only thing I’m sorrier about was that it was unsuccessful. Or, perhaps, that now Minnesota is facing it.

Want to share your thoughts with Equality California on whether they should mount this horse? Here you go.

2 Responses to For the record

  1. Shane June 8, 2011 at #

    No apologies required … I for certain, and I suspect most if not all of your readers will agree with your stance both on the way that battle was waged, and on the sorrow of both how it turned out and that it was not the last of its kind.

    I currently live in a state who chose long ago to enshrine discrimination in our state constitution, and I remember the sting of that battle well. I hope to one day watch those laws crumble as DOMA is repealed and the federal lawmakers step in to undo what should never have been allowed to happen in the first place. I won’t hold my breath that it will happen in my lifetime, nor that of my nieces and nephews who range in age form 1 to 10. It seems that every step forward we make, we find ourselves retreating two or three on another front. Progress has been made, and change will continue to happen, but this kind of change is painfully slow and requires that those currently making decisions for our futures retire.

  2. Lesbian Dad June 8, 2011 at #

    Thank you, friend. If Pres. Obama gets his second term, as I do hope he does, I hope that with it comes the huevos to do for this movement what Johnson provided his predecessors’ mov’t. There’s a reason all civil rights battles are ultimately won with federal intervention. We’ve always needed the biggest proverbial stick to protect the rights of the minority.

    I know that even before Prop 8 slammed shut the oh-so-temporarily-open door to full marriage rights, CA’s suped-up domestic partner protections were the polar opposite of the “Defense of Marriage Acts” (aka “DOMAs” and, in the case of particularly restrictive & virulent ones, “super-DOMAs”) doing the devil’s work in most of the states of the union.

    For those who like a good graphic: here’s the most recent map from the Task Force indicating “State Laws Prohibiting Recognition of Same Sex Relationships”, aka DOMAs and super-DOMAs under which Shane lives in her family’s home state. And here’s the current (April 21, 2011) “Relationship Recognition Map” from the Task Force.

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