Don't let your schooling interfere with your education.
~ Pete Seeger

Friday, November 7, 2008

I'm Not Really Breaking Sabbatical, but...

it's true that I didn't provide closure on this blog for the election, and I feel compelled to do so before really taking a break.

I am absolutely thrilled with the victories of President-elect Obama and our Mayor, Kitty Piercy. These are the two most important candidate races to me.

Everyone who cast a vote for Mr. Obama made a political act of great significance, and I'm proud to say I was one of them. We stood up and made plain that we are ready to stake the fortune of our nation on the principle that a man's character is more important than his skin color. This is not the real culmination of Mr. King's dream, but it is the symbolic culmination of that dream. And I am so proud of our nation for making this real.

Besides, I truly believe that Barack Obama is the right man for this job in this time.

Ms. Piercy has been an outstanding mayor for the last four years, cleaning up the mess that her opponent, Mr. Torrey, left behind, while simultaneously bringing national attention to our small city for our innovative environmentalism and warm climate for sustainable business. In addition, she is truly a mayor for all - the minorities and the downtrodden, as well as the business leaders. It is astounding to me that so many of our citizens would cast their votes for a man who represents so few of our interests, while excluding so many. But maybe I just take it personally, since I'm in one of the groups he would exclude.

And then there's Prop 8.

I have cried so many tears since it passed. My own heart breaking, for all those others whose hearts are breaking. My anger and rage at the injustice of it. My sadness at the pain.

So I will close with this piece from Joe Solomonese, of the Human Rights Campaign:

You can’t take this away from me: Proposition 8 broke our hearts, but it did not end our fight.

Like many in our movement, I found myself in Southern California last weekend. There, I had the opportunity to speak with a man who said that Proposition 8 completely changed the way he saw his own neighborhood. Every “Yes on 8” sign was a slap. For this man, for me, for the 18,000 couples who married in California, to LGBT people and the people who love us, its passage was worse than a slap in the face. It was nothing short of heartbreaking.

But it is not the end. Fifty-two percent of the voters of California voted to deny us our equality on Tuesday, but they did not vote our families or the power of our love out of existence; they did not vote us away.

As free and equal human beings, we were born with the right to equal families. The courts did not give us this right—they simply recognized it. And although California has ceased to grant us marriage licenses, our rights are not subject to anyone’s approval. We will keep fighting for them. They are as real and as enduring as the love that moves us to form families in the first place. There are many roads to marriage equality, and no single roadblock will prevent us from ultimately getting there.

And yet there is no denying, as we pick ourselves up after losing this most recent, hard-fought battle, that we’ve been injured, many of us by neighbors who claim to respect us. We see them in the supermarkets, on the sidewalk, and think “how could you?”

By the same token, we know that we are moving in the right direction. In 2000, California voters passed Proposition 22 by a margin of 61.4% to 38.6%. On Tuesday, fully 48% of Californians rejected Proposition 8. It wasn’t enough, but it was a massive shift. Nationally, although two other anti-marriage ballot measures won, Connecticut defeated an effort to hold a constitutional convention ending marriage, New York’s state legislature gained the seats necessary to consider a marriage law, and FMA architect Marilyn Musgrave lost her seat in Congress. We also elected a president who supports protecting the entire community from discrimination and who opposes discriminatory amendments.

Yet on Proposition 8 we lost at the ballot box, and I think that says something about this middle place where we find ourselves at this moment. In 2003, twelve states still had sodomy laws on the books, and only one state had civil unions. Four years ago, marriage was used to rile up a right-wing base, and we were branded as a bigger threat than terrorism. In 2008, most people know that we are not a threat. Proposition 8 did not result from a popular groundswell of opposition to our rights, but was the work of a small core of people who fought to get it on the ballot. The anti-LGBT message didn’t rally people to the polls, but unfortunately when people got to the polls, too many of them had no problem with hurting us. Faced with an economy in turmoil and two wars, most Californians didn’t choose the culture war. But faced with the question—brought to them by a small cadre of anti-LGBT hardliners – of whether our families should be treated differently from theirs, too many said yes.

But even before we do the hard work of deconstructing this campaign and readying for the future, it’s clear to me that our continuing mandate is to show our neighbors who we are.
Justice Lewis Powell was the swing vote in Bowers, the case that upheld Georgia’s sodomy law and that was reversed by Lawrence v. Texas five years ago. When Bowers was pending, Powell told one of his clerks “I don’t believe I’ve ever met a homosexual.” Ironically, that clerk was gay, and had never come out to the Justice. A decade later, Powell admitted his vote to uphold Georgia’s sodomy law was a mistake.

Everything we’ve learned points to one simple fact: people who know us are more likely to support our equality.

In recent years, I’ve been delivering this positive message: tell your story. Share who you are. And in fact, as our families become more familiar, support for us increases. But make no mistake: I do not think we have to audition for equality. Rather, I believe that each and every one of us who has been hurt by this hateful ballot measure, and each and every one of us who is still fighting to be equal, has to confront the neighbors who hurt us. We have to say to the man with the Yes on 8 sign—you disrespected my humanity, and I am not giving you a pass. I am not giving you a pass for explaining that you tolerate me, while at the same time denying that my family has a right to exist. I do not give you permission to say you have me as a “gay friend” when you cast a vote against my family, and my rights.

Wherever you are, tell a neighbor what the California Supreme Court so wisely affirmed: that you are equal, you are human, and that being denied equality harms you materially. Although I, like our whole community, am shaken by Prop 8’s passage, I am not yet ready to believe that anyone who knows us as human beings and understands what is at stake would consciously vote to harm us.

This is not over. In California, our legal rights have been lost, but our human rights endure, and we will continue to fight for them.

Peace. Be well. Be blessed. And remember, love is all around you.


David Carrel said...

Do you think we could trade the prop 8 decision for the Presidency position?
I understand you all's thoughts on the whole proposition 8 issue. My initial thoughts are that when we vote for proposition 8 or a measure similar (I didn't have a chance to vote for any of those laws), we are not voting against you personally. But after thinking about it for a few minutes, I understand more. I thought of it like this: I believe that soon this country will start passing more laws against me practicing Christianity. I have heard about laws on not being able to read the Bible over radio or television air waves. I have also heard things about President Obama possibly taking away churches tax exempt statuses. (I don't know if those are true, but they would be a significant step towards persecuting Christians). I say this because I would take those laws as personal stabs against me because Christianity is something that I stand for with my life. The same goes for you and marriage equality being something you stand for with your life.
So maybe something to think about on your sabbatical would be if it is possible for someone like me who has always believed in one man one woman marriage as according to the Bible to be able to live in peace with those who do not believe the same without either of us breaking our convictions.
I hope that you know that I do care for you as a person Seda, it is just that under my convictions that I live for, I would feel hypocritical in voting for what you stand for.

Does any of that make sense or am I just a cowardly, hypocritical, fundamental bigot that speaks out of both sides of his mouth?

Have a good sabbatical Seda, we will see you at the other end.

Seda said...

Thank you. I really value that you seem to understand our position so well.

I believe that you and I could live side by side in peace, with our convictions intact. I certainly hope so, for I have no desire to change your convictions or to disrespect them in any way. Wouldn't that be kind of like living by Christian Scientists? I might be convinced that they should immediately seek medical attention for a childhood illness, rather than treat it with prayer. I might feel really scared for the child, and completely confused as to why that family doesn't seek medical help. Yet I could still be their friends, could still be clear about my convictions - perhaps with them, perhaps not - could still live near them with mutual respect.

I do see that you care for me, David, and I value, appreciate, and reciprocate that care. I also understand your conviction, and I would never ask you to vote against it. I might ask that you abstain, at most, as the question affects my family so much more than yours. But I think bringing it to a vote at all is unfair to both of us. I believe that the correct place for this question is the courts, not the ballot box; that it is a question of the rights of a minority, and should not be subject to the whims of public opinion, which one day may wax hot and another day cold, granting the right one year and withholding it the next. Again, sort of like the Christian Scientists. If it were put the vote, I suspect their religious convictions would be sacrificed on the alter of public opinion, regardless of the efficacy of their methods.

You do make sense, David. From where I stand, it looks to me like you are a courageous, thoughtful, sincere, fundamental human.

Take care. Come and see me talk at

Dark Moon said...

Hi Seda. I just wanted to thank you for your uplifiting words and for understanding my points on Field Negro's blog regarding the unfortunate debacle of Prop 8 and Blacks once again being blamed for hypocrisy and somehow impeding the progress of other groups.

I think it would have been helpful if many of those gay black men and women could have heard the kind of support and reach across the aisle.

Take care.

phil_in_ny said...

Great post. I found you on Sara's blog, so I figured I'd stop by and introduce myself.

We have a long way to go on this issue. I've already had disagreements with friends over what should be done.

I take a much more peaceful/"educate the masses" approach to gay rights.

I'll be back.

John Howard said...

Seda, I've been following your debate on Opine Editorials, and it's all been missing the point. Those guys are purposefully making a lousy argument against same-sex marriage. They have deleted my comments in the past when I join in the discussion and try to correct their flawed logic regarding procreation and marriage. And, on the rare occasion when they do decide to leave up a comment of mine, they obscure it under an avalanche of more of their same-old obfuscatory nonsense. And, it works, because their arguments are so much easier to argue against, so people like you tend to ignore my post too. So I will make this argument to you here:

Same-sex couples should not be allowed to attempt to conceive together using their own genes. Society should not approve of the attempted creation of people that are the biological genetic offspring of two people of the same sex. Marriage is and always has been (the "core of marriage" as they say) the right to attempt to conceive a child together with the couple's own genes. People should only be allowed to use their unmodified genes to procreate, which means they should only be allowed to procreate with someone of the other sex. The reasons for this are many, and the safety factor (the only successful experiment in animals had a <.5% success rate, not counting the mice that died in infancy) is only the most obvious. Other issues are cost of research and cost of providing the service, government regulation, and the sheer needlessness of it while so many kids need homes and so many sick people need medical care.

Same-sex marriage would say that people have the same right to conceive with someone of the same sex, which threatens everyone's right to conceive naturally. We should protect everyone's right to conceive in marriage, by prohibiting same-sex marriage and prohibiting genetic engineering of children from modified genes.

By giving up same-sex conception rights, same-sex couples could bargain for federal recognition of civil unions that are defined as marriage minus conception rights. Isn't that more important, Seda?

Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.
~Helen Keller

Reading List for Information about Transpeople

  • Becoming a Visible Man, by Jamison Green
  • Conundrum, by Jan Morris
  • Gender Outlaw, by Kate Bornstein
  • My Husband Betty, by Helen Boyd
  • Right Side Out, by Annah Moore
  • She's Not There, by Jennifer Boylan
  • The Riddle of Gender, by Deborah Rudacille
  • Trans Liberation, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transgender Emergence, by Arlene Istar Lev
  • Transgender Warriors, by Leslie Feinberg
  • Transition and Beyond, by Reid Vanderburgh
  • True Selves, by Mildred Brown
  • What Becomes You, by Aaron Link Raz and Hilda Raz
  • Whipping Girl, by Julia Serano
I have come into this world to see this:
the sword drop from men's hands even at the height
of their arc of anger
because we have finally realized there is just one flesh to wound
and it is His - the Christ's, our