We have a long fight ahead of us.
Not just here in California but nation-wide. Rallies and marches, though great for an initial response and getting the nation’s attention to a horrific injustice, will only get us so far. So what do we do next? How do we harness our raw emotional response to motivate us to the finish line – equal rights for all? First, we need to know who ACTUALLY voted Yes for Prop 8, our opposition. Second, we need to educate ourselves on our opposition. Last, we need to organize!
KNOW YOUR OPPOSITION!!
People use the phrase, “Know your enemy.” But these people who voted Yes for Prop 8 are not our enemies. They are our fellow citizens. However, they are our opposition. Yet, who are they?
How many Mormons actually make up the population of California? According to Wikipedia, 2.12%. (Mormon Population.)
California’s Population: 36,553,215 (2007)
Mormon Population: 773,800
Out of 773,800 Mormons living in California, how many of them were eligible to vote (that number includes kids, the unregistered, etc)? And of these, how many actually voted Yes? I can guarantee you, not all. The number gets smaller and smaller.
Here is a link of the Prop 8 exit polls from CNN. Look at them closely:
CNN Exit Polls
These people, the Yes votes, are the true opposition. So out of the roughly 5.5 million who voted Yes, that’s an awfully small amount of Mormons.
Here, I want to state my objection of the gay community’s focus on the Mormon Church and its role in the passing of Prop 8. This focus of hate needs to stop!
We are angry. We are hurt. But above all, we are motivated to speak out against this injustice. And in this trying, emotional time, we are looking for someone to blame, someone to point a finger at and yell, “Shame on you!” I don’t blame any of us for doing this because after years and years of discrimination, we have experienced an enormous injustice of having been granted rights just to have them ripped away. But is this a productive, healthy response? Will it do us more harm than good? I believe it will do harm.
I understand that the Mormon Church donated millions of dollars to the passage of Prop 8, but many of them didn’t vote. They don’t live here in California! The best we can do is report them to the IRS and shift our focus to those who actually voted. So with this in mind, look at the exit polls again. Those are the people we need to focus on peacefully and with respect, reach out to them and educate them on who we are as a community, show them who we are, something we and the No on Prop 8 campaign failed to do before the vote.
A quote from Martin Luther King, Jr. from his famous, “I Have a Dream” speech:
"The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people. For many of our white brothers as evidenced by their presence here today have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny and they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We can not walk alone."
MLK stood for non-violence. After reading the quote above, we can consider our present situation and realize, as not all “white brothers” of MLK’s time were not against the Negro community, not all Mormons are against the gay community. Though I’m not accusing us of physical violence (though it came close, having witnessed a few scuffles at the protests), I believe our words, such as “bigots” tossed at the Mormon Church expresses a hate that feels awfully close to verbal violence.
In this historic moment, with our first African American president gearing to take charge, change is in the air. I say we take advantage of this change and fight for our rights. But how do we do this? What is our next step?
WE EDUCATE OURSELVES!!
First, we educate ourselves on civil rights history and our constitution, and we educate ourselves on who our opposition is and what they believe.
Our great nation is based on freedom and democracy, statutes found in our nation’s (and state’s) constitution. And I will fight until my dying breath to protect the rights of everyone the freedom of their opinion and their religion, including those who voted Yes. However, the crux of my argument is that these same people, who made up a slim majority, should have never had the right to vote on our marriage in the first place. Nor for that matter, we should have never been forced to protect our marriages through a vote!
JFK fought for civil rights and desegregation. But did he put it up to a popular vote? No. If he had, do you think it would’ve passed? Hardly. He fought through the courts. And why? Because the constitution (both our nation’s and our state’s) was written to protect not only the majority, but the minority as well, and the law is enforced through the judicial branch, not by the majority. The constitution was written to protect the little people from majority (or Mob) rule. This is where our focus should be. This is where we learn from history. We focus our attention on the constitution and the courts and not a moral debate with the majority who don’t have the right to overrule the law.
There is a flip side to this, however. No matter how much we don’t like it, and whether all this is decided by it, this is a battle of public opinion. The nation is watching! This does, believe it or not, affect judges’ decisions. Keeping this in mind, how should we present ourselves to the nation? As one minority treating another minority (as the Mormons see themselves, or the Latino and African-American communities?) as they have treated us? Shouting slurs at them and defacing their property? No! We should rise above it. Show the nation that we are worthy of their respect. Yes, we are angry. We are frustrated. We have had enough! But use this amazing motivation to win the war and not fight battles that get us nowhere. Let us lead by example. Let us educate ourselves about our opposition and address their concerns and why they voted Yes in the first place.
How do we educate ourselves on our opposition?
- Know who the opposition is (see the exit polls) and what their concerns are about gay marriage. Don’t focus on just the Mormons! (Stop the harassment!) Many of those who voted Yes were Judeo-Christian.
- Know what they actually believe in. Study their religion! The religion’s history. Show that you respect them enough to not just toss their beliefs aside but that you have taken the time to learn and engage them. A good book to read by Christians who don’t believe homosexuality is immoral, “Is the Homosexual My Neighbor?” (Buy the Book) It’s a short read but loaded with great information, all derived from the study of the Bible.)
- Know why they voted as they did.
Then what? Engage the opposition! Inform those who voted Yes that we respect their religion, beliefs and morals, and that we are not taking away their beliefs or violating them, but we are demanding the rights that are guaranteed us. Let's show them we can have differing opinions, different religions and ideas of “morality”, and still live side-by-side with mutual respect. Yet remind them that the country that they live in also has one civil moral code. The constitution. We must abide by it.
WE ORGANIZE OURSELVES!!
It is AMAZING and wonderful that so many of us are taking action, but unless we organize as one voice and combine our strength, confusion amongst our community will cause this raging fire to burn out. We also need clear next steps!
Several websites exists about repealing Prop 8:
Combine your forces! Give the community ONE place to combine our support to get rid of Prop 8!
Several groups on Facebook exist.
Californians Ready to Repeal Prop 8
Repeal the CA Ban on Marriage Equality - 2010
Repeal CA Proposition 8
1,000,000 Strong to Overturn Prop 8
Combine your forces!
MY CALL TO ACTION!I call that as our next step, we hold a town hall meeting. We discuss our next steps. We talk about what we have learned, not only about our opposition and how to reach out to them, but what we learned from the mistakes we’ve made before the vote. Prop 8 passed! What did we do wrong?
I call out to the leaders of No on Prop 8 campaign: Lorri L. Jean, Kate Kendell, Geoff Kors, Dr. Delores A. Jacobs, and I call out to Rodney Scott, president of LA Pride, to continue to lead. Hold a town hall! Educate! Give us our next steps! Reach out to your community! Lead by example! Stop calling Mormons “bigots” and stop leading the harassment and help us respectfully reach out to those who actually voted Yes! If not, we will move on without your leadership, just as we marched on this past week without your presence. (LA Weekly Article on the Nov. 6th March)
I call out to the gay and straight community, those who have marched and those who have yet to act. Do something! This is about you and your family! The nation is watching. And amazingly, amongst all of our nation’s troubles, we have their attention. What will you do now?
Don't let the passion die. This is the perfect storm. Ride the wave. Take action. The nation is watching. Let's take it to them! Let’s take it to Washington!