Kate Kendell

Standing Together and Continuing the Conversation

Filed By Kate Kendell | February 27, 2009 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: California, gay marriage, lesbian, LGBT, marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, National Center for Lesbian Rights, NCLR, Prop. 8

Next Thursday, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments in our legal challenge to Proposition 8. As we seek to overturn Prop 8, we have the broadest array of support ever seen on an LGBT issue before any California Court. This support speaks directly to the relationships and coalition work that many in the LGBT, religious, business, and civil rights communities have been doing for years. However, there is another truth motivating the breadth of voices calling on the court to invalidate Prop 8. Prop 8 is an assault on the California Constitution and the most fundamental principal of any functioning democracy: all people will be treated equally under the law.

As a white lesbian leading a national LGBT legal organization and a straight, African-American Christian leading a national civil rights legal organization, we stand side-by-side in common cause. Racism and homophobia undermine and diminish any dream of a just and fair nation. If allowed to stand, Prop 8 would eviscerate equal protection of the law and leave every minority in California vulnerable to majority sentiment and whim. Today it may be same-sex couples and that is unacceptable under any circumstance, but tomorrow any unpopular minority could be next.

In this fight for justice we are sisters, and we ask that every fair-minded Californian join our family in standing against Prop 8. We ask you to join us and engage in conversations about the harms Prop 8 poses to all Californians. Please, talk to your friends and family, attend rallies and marches, post and comment on blogs, and write letters to the editor. Please visit our GET INVOLVED section of our website for tips on how to have these important conversations.

As you talk about the harms of Prop 8, please remember to acknowledge the essential role of the Court in protecting minority rights and remind your audience of the threat that Prop 8 poses to freedom and equality for all Californians. If a bare majority of voters can change our state Constitution to take away rights from a historically targeted minority group, what is the point of having a California Constitution?

It is crucial that our community and allies stand up against this harmful proposition and be visible. It is our chance to show the world that we will not stand for discrimination and intolerance. So make your voice heard today. Click here for some sample letters and blog posts that you can use to draft your own personalized letter.

Our nation is on a new path. A path that makes us all feel a renewed sense of shared values, hope, and humanity. Prop 8 demeans us all and stains our collective vision of a new day. Such a law should not be permitted to stand.

Post co-authored by Eva Paterson, President of the Equal Justice Society and one of the most esteemed civil rights attorneys in California.

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colored queer | February 27, 2009 11:45 AM

Quite an amazing and troubling commentary with a word "racism." Here is another example of widespread racism which has become so deeply ingrained in gay institutions. This statement acknowledges that she is white and is reaching out to all communities/minorities (presumbly of color) but she fails to mention that how privileged she is as a white person in America to be able to preach only gay marriage rights with no mention of specific examples of racism that deprives minorities including gay people of color of equality in jobs, health care, police violence and so on. How does marriage benefit me if I dont have a job, health care or ownerhsip of wealth to leave to my partner?

This statement contains the word "racism" with no meaningful discussion or concrete examples of racism within the gay community but just to make gay marriage more appealing to black and other people of color communities. This is not a genuine discussion about thorny issues of racism within the gay community and is another attempt by gay white orgs to hush racism. That strategy of having whites dominate gay issues led to the defeat of marriage rights in California and will continue to bring more challenges. It is time to change the face of the gay community to reflect a new reality in America which is more diverse then the imagination of our gay "leaders."

Here is a modest suggestion: how about issuing one more statement acknowledging the racism within the gay community and asking fellow gay colleagues in orgnizations to question their own racism and lack of visible people of color except few tokens of color as communication coordinators? How about addressing why a good old network of whites control most gay spaces and organizations even those which are supposed to be working for people of color? That may rock the boat and good old boy (and girl) network of preserving power in the hands of few whites in the gay community.

This statement should have at least mentioned how gay community is struggling in treating its own people of color with equality before preaching for equality in front of larger audiences.

And yes I rely on my community of faith/family for support despite its flaws as it is only them who can understand my pain as a person of color in America.

Kate, thanks for all of your hard work over the years. Your efforts do not go unnoticed in our community. Mahalo.

Keep up the fight, Kate. You know I'm in your corner.