Looking Forward

Okay, so we lost. We're all angry about it. If it's going to take you a while to stop being angry, I understand. In fact, you probably shouldn't plan on ever "getting over it." So write angry facebook notes, take to the streets, unfriend the people who voted yes, whatever you need to do.

But I'm going to try to do what I can to look forward. Right now there are already lawsuits being filed, and whether anything comes from those or not, it's not clear what the next step will be. Whether it will come through the courts, the legislature, or another proposition showing up on the ballot, we don't know. But regardless of what it is, proposition 8 has started a long conversation on same-sex marriage, and I think it's important that we allow this conversation to move in a new direction.

To the "yes on 8" voters:

Marriage has always been between a man and a woman in this state, up until this past June, and I understand that kind of change is difficult for you, in the same way that anything new or unfamiliar is always difficult. The Supreme Court of California recognized a new right that had never been legally considered a right before (at least not here). Of course there will be at least some part of you that objects to that kind of change. I realize that, despite what you heard from the protesters on the streets of West Hollywood on Wednesday night, your vote was not intended to be bigoted or hateful, or to treat anyone as a second-class citizen. Change is hard, and we will never get any closer to reaching any kind of agreement or understanding on this issue if we don't recognize that fact.

That said, many of you were tricked into voting yes. You bear much of the responsibility for that, and of course, so does the official "yes on 8" campaign. The campaign consistently misled and lied to voters, in an effort to move the conversation away from the real issue (same-sex marriage) and scare people into voting yes. No church has ever been denied their tax-exempt status for refusing to marry any particular couple. If topics like marriage are taught in California public schools, they have to give parents the right to opt out. Barack Obama stated very clearly that he was against prop 8. Nearly all the official material that came from the yes on 8 campaign was absolute lies or at least implied false statements. It is your responsibility as a voter to be smart enough not to fall for such things, and to call out your own campaign when you see it happening. If you want to use the electoral process to prove that a majority of Californians are on your side, then you need to actually get out there and convince people. As it stands now, all you've proven is that people are very susceptible to emotional advertising.

To the "no on 8" voters:

First of all, next time, get angry before the election. And then channel your anger into volunteering or donating, or at least making sure all your friends will vote our way. And if they say they're not going to, then talk to them about it (see below). In any case, get angry and take action before the election. I'll only say it one more time. Get involved BEFORE the election.

When I was volunteering for the No On 8 campaign over the summer, trying to recruit new volunteers to join us, I would explain briefly how the campaign needed so many thousands of volunteers in order to win. Often, they would then assure me that such a proposition would never pass, not here in California. I don't think anything more needs to be said about those people.

I want to stress again that I understand how frustrated and disappointed everyone is right now. However, slogans like "Stop the hate, no on 8," referring to your opponents as bigots, saying they've treated you as a second class citizen, insulting an entire religious group: None of that helps us very much. Changing the minds of millions of people is not easy, but insulting them is a sure way not to do it. I think we did a great job in this campaign of making sure our messages were always positive and truthful. Next time around, we need to do exactly the same thing, and work even harder to combat the lies that we now know the other side will probably tell.

To people on both sides of this issue:

Even though this fight is over, the conversation that will lead us to the next fight has to continue. So keep talking about this issue, not just with your friends on your side, but with anyone you know who voted the other way. This can be a somewhat painful experience, but we all have to live in this state together, so let's at least try to understand each other a little bit. We will never all agree on everything, and there are people on both sides who will never be swayed. But if we don't start talking to each other soon, trying to understand where the "other side" is coming from, then the "yes" voters will always be "hateful homophobic bigots" and "no" voters will always be "in league with activist judges trying to redefine marriage for us all." This is California. We should be better than that. All of us.


Samantha said...

Great post. Just some food for thought though - I know it was important to be proactive and "angry" before the actual election, but now that california has made that mistake (of assuming california is going to vote the right way), isn't there still some value in publicly demonstrating? I personally do not agree with protesting in front of a mormon church, but what about vigils,etc? It's futile, I suppose, but what if everyone just said nothing, and acted like it was "whatever" and the electorate then assumed that everybody was fine with the outcome?

Tyler Breisacher said...

It is, you're right. And I should have emphasized that more... but I just hope that next time it starts sooner. And I hope we can channel this anger into conversation. I have a few friends who voted yes, and as hard as it is for me to talk to them, I really do want to understand where they're coming from, and I hope many more people will do the same, instead of just demonizing them.