(Please note this article was written BEFORE the official decision by the CA Supreme Court was released. Any views expressed in this entry may not hold true depending on whether Prop8 is upheld or not)
Today is D-Day for the gay-rights movement. We have been waiting patiently for a decision from the California Supreme Court since March. At 1 o'clock Eastern, that wait will be over. Over 90 Rallies (Protests or Celebrations depending on the outcome) have been organized across the country in over 20 states (including Indianapolis) to give the first response. LGBT and their allies will be taking to the streets and hopefully taking over the news all evening.
But what happens to the gay rights movement if Proposition 8 is upheld and the right to marry is taken away in California, the same right given by the supreme court justices little more than a year ago?
Find out after the jump.
I feel I should first tell you why I believe today's decision will not be in our favor (i.e. Prop 8 is upheld and gay marriage once again becomes illegal in California).
After there was no decision by the Supreme Court on May 15th (the 1 year anniversary of the landmark ruling to permit gay marriage in California), I was forced to accept this turn of events. Had the Justices planned on overturning Prop 8, why would they overlook this historic day, a day they made historic? Our movement would have gladly taken to the streets on the 1 year anniversary to claim our rights - that we are protected as a minority under the constitution.
The justification could be simple: the justices simply hadn't made a consensus yet and needed more time - but in all reality, they were most likely providing time for law enforcement to be in place because they knew we would protest. This train of thought is only encouraged by the fact that they informed the nation that the decision is Tuesday. The court typically gives 24 hours notice to any decision (i.e. notifying the public Tuesday that a decision will be released Wednesday). When they notify the public on Friday, the decision is typically given the following Monday, but due to the holiday weekend, they've given an additional day notice before releasing their decision. In fact, this was the only weekend that afforded them more than enough time to get their ducks in order, making sure our protests had adequate police enforcement.
So what happens after today when Prop 8 is upheld? We've seen dominoes falling left and right, with the number of states allowing gay marriage doubling, and even quadrupling (depending on if you count California). I, myself, even commented on my work's Gay Employee Resource site that it was like a "gay marriage tidal wave" sweeping across the nation. With an LGBT-negative ruling on Prop 8, that tidal wave is effectively annulled. We as a community will have to realize that the fight is not as easy as Iowa and Vermont would have us to believe. With win after win in our favor, we will have to adjust our thinking and return to the mentality that this is a fight, that we aren't guaranteed anything. If we stop fighting for a single minute, there are people in this nation who will stop at nothing to take away everything we have fought for, which is the real reason for this article.
Our biggest obstacle isn't fighting the complacency in the LGBT community of winning a few states in the Northeast and Iowa, its the Evangelical Religious Right that will be empowered by this turn of events. Their fight and even their political party has taken many serious blows over the past 6 months. With so many states recognizing gay marriage, their argument has been drowned out by our own rallying cries of equality for all. But if and when Proposition 8 is upheld at 1pm Eastern today, they will have all the ammunition they need. No longer will they need to circumvent "activist judges," or ensure state governors veto state bills supporting LGBT rights. In the end it comes down to a vote by the majority.
Some would argue this is how all laws should be passed in America, following the will of the people. But our forefathers knew how easily the public can be swayed, especially if fed lies and propaganda. No minority in America would have rights if laws were only "up to the people." There are inalienable rights spelled out in our constitution to ensure the majority doesn't take advantage of the minority. When Loving v Virginia was ruled on by the US Supreme Court, 2/3rds of Americans believed it was morally acceptable to criminalize interracial marriages. Had this decision been left to the majority, who believes Obama would be president today? By ruling interracial relationships were equal to that of white relationships, Americans were forced (against their will, mind you) to accept that African Americans were equal in every way (at least legally, if not socially).
If and When Proposition 8 is upheld by the CA Supreme Court later this afternoon, all gay rights will be up for grabs in the coming elections. When the 2010 and 2012 elections role around, Evangelicals will be using the full brunt force of their congregations' monetary power to strip every right we have secured - not only marriage rights, but any right the Conservative Right may believe is a "privilege," such as states with GLBT non-discrimination policies. We saw how they came together last year to pass Proposition 8. That will be nothing compared to the fight that is to come when Prop8 shows their methodology actually works.
Lets breakdown the time-line of where our Rights will be in 10 years after Prop 8 is upheld by the CA Supreme Court.
- 2008 - Prop 8 ballot measure passes in California, setting a precedent that all rights not favored by the "majority" can be taken away. Religious right groups rally behind this decision and start preparing for the 2010 election.
- 2010 - Many states with gay marriage rights (including Vermont and Iowa) have been bombarded with inaccurate advertisements and propaganda proclaiming how gay marriage has negatively affected their state. Ballot measures and political campaigns have surfaced to amend each state's constitutions in order to "protect the will of people."
- 2012 - States that needed additional time to amend their constitution have been added to the list. Enough money has been poured into each of these ballot measures that the $80 million spent during Prop 8's passage looks like a pittance. GLBT have no hope but to allow their own marriages to be annulled by their government.
- 2016 - With Gay Marriage no longer an issue, the religious right focuses their attention on states with GLBT non-discrimination policies and other LGBT "protections" under the pretense that it violates their right to "Freedom of Religion." The only people still protected after the 2016 elections are those working for Fortune 500 companies who enacted their own non-discrimination policies.
- 2020 - Sodomy laws are once again enacted in the United States, the only difference is that all reference to heterosexual sodomy (i.e. adultery) have been left out. We are once again considered criminals, hunted down because of who we chose to love. The only difference is that with Homeland Security there will be no safe-havens, nowhere to hide. They will know exactly who we are and where to find us.
So there you have it: By 2020, Jesus Christ (or rather his dedicated followers) will have stripped us of not only the right to marry, but the vary right to live openly and freely in America. I know this seems harsh, but with the precedent of Proposition 8 being upheld, we have so much more to lose than we ever thought possible. Allowing the majority to dictate what rights are bestowed upon us will only end in more rights being taken away.
We do have one hope should Prop 8 be upheld today: Repeating what happened at the Stonewall Riots 40 years ago. We cannot sit idly by, hoping our rights will come to us. We must take to the streets and demand equality from the very constitutions written to protect minorities like us. I encourage all of you reading this article to visit www.dayofdecision.org and find your local event. If you live in the Indianapolis area, you can visit www.indyimpact.com to get specifics about Indy's Rally and where to fight for your own rights.
We have a chance today to show America that the gay community will not be quiet when our rights are taken away. We must give America "buyer's remorse," not only to those who voted for Proposition 8, but to any American voting for a ballot measure that takes away rights from a group of upstanding America citizens.
We're Here, We're Queer, and Jesus Christ cannot take away my Freedom!