As I have said, I am not for Gay marriage; but then, I am against marriage for everyone. I do not understand why people need to cling to Dark Age traditions and then want to know why there is so much misery in new millenium. Having said that, the fact that I do not believe in marriage for anyone means the opposite is also true: I believe that marriage should be legal for everyone as long as we keep this travesty around. In California, Proposition 8, the definition of marriage as one man and one woman, passed by a fairly narrow margin when you consider how wide the margin was with the Knight Initiative. On Saturday November 15th, there was a rally of at least 10,000 people protesting the passage of the proposition in downtown Los Angeles and I attended that rally.
The day was clear and hot under Santa Ana conditions in Southern California. I took up position under two very large trees at the corner of 1st and Spring Streets. Luckily, T.R. Knight, his other, and a bunch of their friends were close by and I got to meet him in addition to getting his autograph, what a nice young man. The speakers started and the mayor flew in by helicopter, taking time from the massive fires to address the crowd. The City Attorney filed a lawsuit with the California Supreme Court to overturn the proposition and came to explain the merits of the case to those amassed. Ricki Lake, Marissa Jaret Winokur, Lucy Lawless, and many others took the podium to express their support.
The speaker I want to address here though is Lorri Jean, the Executive Director of the LA Gay and Lesbian Center. In full disclosure, I used to volunteer at the Center and even took a temporary position there a couple of times. I am not a disgruntled employee. There are reasons I left which will be explained if they do not become apparent during the course of this discussion.
Lorri Jean gave a rousing speech as one might expect given her position. She definitely knew her audience and played to their emotions as any good orator would. She assured them that the fight was not over, that there were other avenues to equality, and that we would win the war if not the battle. However, when it came to the subject of blame, she laid the blame squarely at the feet of the supporters of Proposition 8 and it is here that I must take exception. Jean stated that the proposition passed because the supporters scared the electorate with a bunch of blatant lies. She even evoked one of the commandments by asking "whatever happened to 'Thou shalt not lie?'" The problem with Jean's argument is that she did not and does not accept any of the blame for herself or for the No on 8 supporters. As a Californian and a Gay man, I assure you that there is plenty of blame to go around and quite a lot if not most of it lies at Ms. Jean and her cohort's feet.
The No on 8 campaign was weak and obscure from the beginning. The initial ads on television were of a heterosexual couple experiencing difficulties such as a broken heel, a missing veil, and a falling bride. What in the Sam Hill did that have to do with the marriages of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Intersexed communities one might ask? Well, the heteros were supposed to find sympathy, possibly empathy, for their LGBTI counterparts by applying the travails of the straight couple. The Yes on 8 campaign had a law professor from Pat Buchanan, I mean Pepperdine, making a rather convincing argument against changing the definition of marriage again. Several celebrities and politicians were supposed to be out campaigning against 8 and the only one who did was Dianne Feinstein. Oh sure, there was a commercial saying that Barack Obama and Arnold Schwartzenegger were against it. However, it did not have the voices of either man and it only came out the last weekend of the election.
The No on 8 campaign got it's ass handed to them. They were lazy and ineffective in presenting their argument. While Ms. Jean is correct in laying blame at the feet of the Yes on 8 folks, she refuses to accept any of the responsibility for herself. This is why I left the Center in the first place. Prop 8 passed because Ms. Jean and her associates dropped the ball and they must face that fact if they are to move forward. People cannot get away with always blaming others anymore than organizations can. The marriages of LGBTI community are in peril because of the No on 8 people as well as the Yes on 8 folks.
The one ray of sunshine at the rally was John Duran. He and I are about the same age. He and I were both involved in ACT UP. I started with ACT UP Seattle and then started the Clean Needle Exchange Program in San Diego and he became a politician in West Hollywood. The fact is that we are not spring chickens anymore. Several of the speakers mentioned that the rally was organized by a blogger in Seattle that spread around the world. The blogosphere is dominated by the younger generations. Mr. Duran gladly passed the torch of activism to the up and coming generations at the rally and I was very relieved. There is a lot of work to do out there and it is time for the young to start fighting for it with help and advice from those who have already proven themselves in this arena. Equality doesn't just happen and it's time for everyone to realize it.