Last night we as Californians gave more rights to animals and fewer to same-sex couples. It's mind-baffling.
I have never believed in the idea of gay marriage -- mostly for the icky visual. @LaGringa and I fighting over who had the better dress, nudging our way down the aisle, who would walk first? We've laughed about what a wedding to us would look like, and for both of us, it wouldn't look like anything. We've got our families, the bling, the house and, almost weekly, get the giggles after 11 years of friendship.
But what I've learned through this process is that I *do* believe in gay marriage for one single reason: I believe in the civil rights afforded to every person, irregardless of who they go to bed with at night. On Sunday night, I started to panic -- what if Prop 8 passes and we didn't do anything to help? Are we hypocrites? Are we failing a community we've so deliberately shied away from? Would people I know ever vote to take away my basic civil rights they themselves are afforded?
On Monday I Twittered about where to dig up a 'No on Prop 8' sign and I was directed to the Democratic HQ in San Jose. As I walked in, a group of people were leaving to go hold signs at the main train station. I grabbed two signs and ran home to change clothes. If I was going to stand up publicly, I wanted to look as girly as possible.
At the train station I was surrounded by other No on Prop 8 sign holders. Many of them were from my town, several had their kids in tow. These folks weren't some radical freaks, they were moms and dads giving an hour of their own time. An hour to a parent is so precious. Not even one person I demonstrated with was in a same-sex relationship. NOT ONE. These were parents of young children, smart, educated, friendly, kind people who stood by me on a rainy Monday night to fight for MY rights, not theirs. I have rarely been so humbled.
I carried my sign around all day on Tuesday, stopping at random places where Yes on Prop 8 folks gathered. I did not speak (and you know for me, that's a feat), instead, I smiled. I held my little sign that said, "Equality for All" on major street corners in San Jose and Campbell. I got waves and honks and smiles and thumbs up. Once I got a "boo!" and twice someone screaming out their car, "Yes on 8!", but hey, I was good a good target. A buddy of mine saw me and pulled over, came to the median to chat with me while I held my sign. He's a die-hard Republican. He told me not to worry, that all his Red friends were voting No on 8. His words, "Everyone knows that that's ridiculous."
Somewhere in the middle of this, I started to think about Portia and Ellen deGeneres. Were they freaking out? Calling their lawyers? Standing on street corners like me? I decided to txt @laGringa and call our tax accountant. If we were going to get enough of a tax break, that would be reason enough to head down to the courthouse. We agreed to go, made an appointment for 4 p.m. when a mass marriage was being held for folks that had the same idea we did. I drove to the courthouse and... well, that's as far as we got. I chickened out.
As the polls unfolded last night, @laGringa and I were profoundly sad. Were we such bad people that we should give more rights to animals and less to us? How do we explain that to our children?
Today, we have gotten condolence calls, hugs, txts, voicemails and emails. I sat on a bench rewinding the last few days and came away with this: I live in a community that stands by me, for me and grieves with me. I live where I am free, treated with respect and dignity. There is not one same-sex couple on my street, yet there are multiple "No on 8" lawn signs up and down the little suburban nook I live in. I am blessed.
Indeed, we lost basic civil rights last night. It is serious and grotesque and it's not over yet. But that was last night. The fallout for me has been profound: I gained a reminder of how lucky I am, how honored we are to live amongst such an extraordinary community. And further reminded how deeply I adore and respect my spouse.