Editors' Note: Guest blogger Carlos Mock has published three books and is the Floricanto Press editor for its GLBT series. He was inducted in the Chicago Gay & Lesbian Hall of Fame in October of 2007. He grew up middle-class in the suburbs of San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Four years ago we were used as a punching bag. Twenty referenda were added in twenty states singling out gay rights so as to turn out the Republican base. It worked: George W Bush was re-elected and we lost all but one if the referenda.
This year, an unprecedented turnout of voters went to the polls and elected the first African American President, however, gay rights were defeated in every ballot but one in the country.
We do not view these results as reason for despair. Struggles over civil rights never follow a straight trajectory, and the outcome of these ballot fights should not obscure the building momentum for full equality for gay people, including acceptance of marriage between gay men and women. But the votes remind us of how much remains to be done.
While Americans received a strong dose of positive change this week, it was not to be for gays and lesbians in four states. They got more of the same--the same discrimination and nonsense they've dealt with for far too long.
Not all the results for same-sex marriage were negative. In Connecticut, voters rejected a proposed constitutional convention through which opponents of same-sex marriage wanted to overturn a recent decision by the Connecticut Supreme Court, on sound equal protection grounds, allowing same-sex couples to marry.
Far from showing that California's Supreme Court was wrong to extend the right of marriage to gay people, the passage of Proposition 8 is a reminder of the crucial role that the courts play in protecting vulnerable groups from unfair treatment.
Apart from creating legal uncertainty about the thousands of same-sex marriages that have been performed in California and giving rise to lawsuits challenging whether the rules governing ballot measures were properly followed, the immediate impact of Tuesday's rights-shredding exercise is to underscore the danger of allowing the ballot box to be used to take away people's fundamental rights.
No matter That the first African American won Tuesday night, it will be up to the GLBT community to fight its own battles. While Barack Obama had said that he supports dropping the Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy, and is in favor of civil unions, he still seems to be following the Republican Party line that marriage was crafted as an institution that only a man and woman should have access to.
We must all fight our fights: these next four years need to be when the rights of GLBTs become as inalienable as anyone else's. When our life, liberty and pursuit of happiness are as indisputable as anyone else's.
Whether we have access to the cultural and economic advantages of marriage should not be up for debate. Whether we can be fired from our jobs, lose our kids or be thrown out of our apartments should not be up for debate.
The time has come for The Bill of Rights' Fourteenth Amendment: "All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." to be applied to every citizen in spite of their sexual or gender orientation.