Guest Blogger

Prop. 8 - it's not about us, it's about you

Filed By Guest Blogger | March 02, 2009 11:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: Diane Olson, gay marriage, marriage equality, Prop 8, Prop. 8, PSA, Robin Tyler, same-sex marriage

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Robin Tyler and her wife, Diane Olson, of Los Angeles were plaintiffs in the lawsuit that won marriage equality for same-sex couples in California. They now are plaintiffs in the California Supreme Court case to overturn Proposition 8.

Updated at the end of the post

This case is not about just us. It's about justice.

My wife, Diane, and I will never say, "Please don't divorce us."

There is a very moving public service announcement all over the Internet in which same-sex couples are holding up a sign or saying, "Please don't divorce us." The music in the background is compelling, and the announcement, which collects thousands of names for the organization that produced it, should have made Diane and me very happy, especially because there is a clip of our wedding in it. But it didn't.

Once I got over the hearts and flowers of seeing other same-sex married couples, I became very angry. Because that PSA is totally off message.

The upcoming March 5 California Supreme Court case is not about us.

If the court rules that only existing marriages of same-sex couples are valid, it will be a hollow victory, because we do not want to be the only ones on the Freedom Train.

The California Supreme Court needs to overturn Proposition 8 because what Prop. 8 does -- for the first time in American history -- is to take out of a constitution a group that has been declared equal by the Supreme Court.

This is dangerous, because it means 50 percent of the people plus a single vote can vote to take away protections for labor, for unions, to take women and minorities out of the constitution, to take you out of the state constitution.

The legal challenge to Proposition 8 is supported by hundreds of religious organizations, civil rights groups, women's organizations and labor unions, along with numerous California municipal governments, bar associations and leading legal scholars.

What started out as a fight for loving same-sex couples wanting the fundamental right of marriage has exploded into one of the biggest civil-rights cases in American history, because now we, and all of the attorneys on our side, are standing up to defend the constitution for all of us.

Diane and I are optimistic. Of course, we are not attorneys, which I'm sure gives us a leg up on optimism. But why would the California Supreme Court not overturn Prop. 8, when the proposition would also give people the power to challenge all of the court's decisions protecting minorities against the loss of fundamental rights? Wouldn't this make the court obsolete?

Some people have said, "Well, you can always put your right to equality back on the ballot in 2010." Excuse me? Since when was it OK for people to vote on a group's rights to basic equality and civil rights? Equality isn't a popularity contest. It's the right of all California citizens.

Nobody's rights should ever be put to a popular vote. That's why we have a court system. And that's why Diane and I are confident the court will show the courage it did when it not only ruled for marriage equality for same-sex couples but also declared that lesbians and gays were a suspect class, a legitimate minority entitled to all rights.

If the court does rule for us, tens of thousands of us will be on the streets that night celebrating a great victory, not just for us but for everyone.

But if we lose and Prop. 8 stands, even if the court rules to uphold existing same-sex marriages, hundreds of thousands of us will be on the streets, angrier than we have ever been.

The time for saying "please" is over.


The Brass Tacks - What You Can Do

Get together with a few others in your area to initiate a Day of Decision action to be held on the evening that the California Supreme Court rules - whichever weekday that might be.

We will have posters, talking points, press releases, email blasts, etc. designed to publicize your event before the Court rules, and once we learn of the court's decision, materials you can blast out on that day for your event that evening. The day before they rule, the court will tell our plaintiffs that their decision will be announced the next day, so we'll have a final 24 hours to Facebook, email etc. our supporters for the event the following night.

If you would like to help initiate a "Day of Decision" action in your city, we're putting together so you can find out how you can get involved.

We Have Done This Before

We Can Do It - BETTER - Again

Fifty cities mobilized for our "Day of Decision" actions around the landmark 2003 Lawrence v. Texas U.S. Supreme Court decision, well before social networking sites had come onto the scene. A few years earlier, our nationwide StopDrLaura campaign got the world's #2 largest advertiser, Proctor & Gamble, to dump gay-hater Dr. Laura Schlessinger, cutting short the career of what had been the nation's #2 radio hostess (behind Rush Limbaugh). These campaigns were truly volunteer-driven, grassroots efforts - no paid staffs, high priced salaries or plush offices.

The stakes in California are high - a good decision would help fortify our community against what could be some very difficult years of economic strain and scapegoating. A bad decision would likely inflame the heightened level of violence already recorded against the LGBT community over the past year.

Let's not sit back and allow a repeat of the Prop 8 November 4 th disaster. Please go to tomorrow and help us mobilize our community so this time, we are prepared for mass protests or mass celebrations. Let everyone hear our voices.

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By the way, Robin, Prop 8 also affected bisexuals and transgender people. Please keep inclusion on your mind at all times, especially since it was a trans man who won the case that allowed you two to get married in the first place.

It does seem to be all about you. Asking for full marraige in a hick State like California could generate an electoral backlash against the dems, who need all the help they can get right now.

"If the court rules that only existing marriages of same-sex couples are valid, it will be a hollow victory, because we do not want to be the only ones on the Freedom Train."

Amen. The ads are fine, in my opinion. But the prospect of the court giving the majority a hammer to smash equal protection is chilling, and I wish more people were aware of that angle.

I'll be sure to check it out tomorrow afternoon, Robin.

Lots of strategies and ads are better than a few. Sure, the message should remained focused on the bigger picture, but it also doesn't hurt to show actual couples who will be affected directly by the supreme court decision. I know lots of straight people who've been touched by that video.