Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A sad day

The protests that followed the passage of Proposition 8 last November seem like a lifetime ago to me.

I rode my bike to all of the rallies and marches I attended: in West Hollywood, Hollywood, Silver Lake and in downtown L.A. I wasn't able to yell like most of the other marchers –my voice was already faltering– but just showing up in the streets in those days and weeks after Prop. 8 passed made a loud statement in its own way.

Like millions of other people, I was logged on to the California State Supreme Court's website on Tuesday morning as 10 o'clock approached, nervously refreshing my browser so I would see the court ruling the instant it was posted. In my gut, I knew that the court would uphold Prop. 8, but in my heart I was hoping against reason that Prop. 8 somehow would be overturned.

It reminded me of September 2005, when a bill legalizing same-sex marriage landed on Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk, and he faced the choice of vetoing it or signing it into law. I was working with an advocacy group fighting for marriage equality at the time, and I thought the governor just might decide to stun everyone and sign the legislation. We had news releases prepared in the event of either outcome.

Gov. Schwarzenegger didn't sign the marriage equality bill in 2005, and he didn't make marriage equality a reality in 2007, either, when the state Legislature sent a similar bill to the governor's desk.

That step forward was taken by the State Supreme Court last May.

Now the court has taken a step backward by upholding Prop. 8. The governor tweeted his reaction –"I believe one day CA will recognize gay marriage but I will uphold decision. Made right choice allowing 18K marriages before vote to stand"– and then went on the Tonight Show, while outraged Californians marched in cities across the state.

I decided to sit out Tuesday's demonstrations. Some days, by the time I get home from work and pour dinner down my tube, my energy is depleted, and Tuesday was one of those days.

The news on Tuesday wasn't all bad. The court did state that the 18,000 same-sex unions that took place last year between June and Election Day remain legal.

I'm happy for those 18,000 couples. I know a bunch of 'em and believe they have just as much of a right to remain married as anyone.

As for the rest of us, well, Tuesday's ruling is a sad moment for California. In the eyes of six justices of the California Supreme Court and 52 percent of California voters who approved Prop. 8 last November, gay men and lesbians are second-class citizens who don't enjoy the same rights as everyone else.

Despite what the governor may tweet, marriage equality in California isn't inevitable. There's a lot more ground to cover in this fight, and there's too much at stake for people who care about their rights to sit on the sidelines.

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