This morning's Chronicle ran a story about how the voting on Prop 8 went within the city of San Francisco, and, as has been suggested over the past week and a half, it does appear heavily Asian and African-American districts went in favor of Prop 8. The finger-pointing has commenced, and many of us who were against Prop 8 feel betrayed. The thinking goes: WTF?! We (white gays) have supported you in your struggles for civil rights, and now you turn your backs on us? Or, WTF?! You of all people know what it's like to be discriminated against; how, then, do you find it so easy to turn around and discriminate against someone else?
These feelings are understandable--because we've been knocked to the ground, and that doesn't feel very good. But, it's exactly what the Yes on 8 people want. Divide and conquer. If we're all busy arguing and pushing blame onto others, we're not focusing on the important work that needs to be done. Let's not create divisions; rather, let's reach out, dialogue calmly, EDUCATE. What's that old saying? You catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Besides, honey's much better for the soul. And trust me when I say I know a number of African American and Asian honeys, male and female, who are most definitely on our side.
Here's a letter from our local movers and shakers. I'm taking it to heart.
We are on the cusp of a new era as our country has elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama. We hope this unprecedented event will usher in a new chapter in our nation’s history.
This past week has been a difficult time. With the passage of Proposition 8 in California to change the state constitution to eliminate the right to marry, our community has experienced a difficult defeat. We are angry and upset by the passage of Proposition 8 and the betrayal of the promise of equality that has been the hallmark of the Golden State. Yet, we know that this is only a setback in—not the end of—our journey toward full equality for the LGBT community.
It is natural to analyze what went wrong. But in recent days there has been a tendency to assign blame to specific communities, in particular, the African American community. The fact is, 52 percent of all Californians, the vast majority of whom were not African Americans, voted against us. In addition, the most recent analysis of the exit poll that drove much of this speculation determined that it was too small to draw any conclusion on the African American vote, and further polling shows that the margin was much closer than first reported. Most importantly, though, none of this discourse changes the outcome of the vote. It only serves to divide our community and hinder our ability to create a stronger and more diverse coalition to help us overturn Proposition 8 and restore full equality and human rights to LGBT people. It also deflects responsibility from the group that is responsible for this miscarriage of justice: The Yes on 8 campaign. They waged a deceitful and immoral campaign that brought about this violation of our human rights and dignity.
We as a community have come so far. Let’s not lose sight of this. Since Proposition 22 passed eight years ago by 22 percentage points, we have made our case to the people of California. We have talked to our families, co-workers and friends about what true equality looks like. In so doing, we have narrowed the gap substantially since that time. And, in the last week, we have continued to move forward with a great wave of non-violent protest and a strong and powerful legal case put together by some of the keenest legal minds, supported by the governor, our senators and many other elected officials in our state. Moreover, we have seen a great national movement growing in support of equal rights for the LGBT community as a result of our actions in California.
We are hopeful the election of Barack Obama signals a new spirit of collaboration among diverse groups of people. There are many allied communities—straight, African-American, Latino, Asian Pacific Islander, people of faith, and secular people—who are energized to join with us as never before. This is progress! LGBT people are a part of all those communities, and with the support of our straight allies, we know that justice will prevail.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said it best: “The arc of moral justice is long, but it bends toward justice.” Now is the time to come together as one community working together toward human rights and full equality. We are confident that with our growing coalition we will ultimately win this fight.
Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition
Executive Director, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Executive Director, Family Equality Council
Oscar De La O
President & CEO, Bienestar
Member, West Hollywood City Council
Rabbi Denise L. Eger
Congregation Kol Ami
Lorri L. Jean
CEO, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center
Executive Director, National Center for Lesbian Rights
Executive Director, Equality California
Executive Director, Zuna Institute
Rev. Susan Russell and Rev. Ed Bacon
All Saints Episcopal Church, Pasadena
President, Christopher Street West/LA Pride
President, Human Rights Campaign
Rev. Dr. Neil G. Thomas
Metropolitan Community Church/LA
Vallerie D. Wagner
National Black Justice Coalition
Co-Chair, API Equality—L.A.