Yes We Will!

Cross-posted at Playa Minded

The election is over but the movement is not. Campaigning for Barack Obama turned into something bigger and now it’s time to figure out what we are going to do with all that momentum. Sometime late in the campaign we realized that this was more than just an election. This was bigger than Barack Obama. This was people coming together to effect change. Not just a change in the White House or a change of parties. It became a movement for change initiated by the people. And then it happened. We did it. After feeling like our government had been taken from us, we took it back. After years of being told what was good for us, we said, loud and clear, that we will make that decision ourselves.
With this success comes the commission of our awesome responsibility as Americans. We can’t let this movement stall or we risk stagnation. Keep going, keep advocating, keep working in your communities. For me, this is as frightening as it is exciting. “An Open Apology to Boomers Everywhere” by Heather Havrilesky helped me understand some of my feelings. My parents were very active in politics when I was a child. I assumed my aversion to “getting involved” was simply the remnants of adolescent rebellion but what better rebellion than to be working for the opposition? So, what are you gonna do? I’m starting here:

Join the Impact is a national protest against California’s proposition 8. This will take place at city halls all over the country on November 15th. Hey, if they’re doing it here, they’re probably doing it in your city as well!
I’m not sure how much of an impact this makes but I will not let my money fund hate. So check the list and think about what you buy. (I was surprised to see Bolthouse Farms…time to switch carrot brands!)


More Reaction to Proposition 8

I was going to stick this all in an open thread, but the outpouring from the blogs is worth its own space. Also, emotions around me are still running high as the passage of the anti-gay Proposition 8 is dominating the news here.

From the blogs:

“No I am Zoe” over at BlogHer wrote about Proposition 8, the lawsuits surrounding it and the provisional and absentee ballots that have yet to be counted. Melissa Etheridge’s response in The Daily Beast to the passing of Proposition 8 was awesome. The discussion over at Strollerderby was interesting, too. Finally, the No on Prop 8 campaign released a final statement.

The Daily Beast had a roundup of gay, black and black gay reaction to Proposition 8, which was overwhelmingly backed by African Americans who voted for Barack Obama. I thought this reader comment was right on and important to run:

“It seems like the frame for the passage of Prop 8 is going to be “It’s because Obama’s candidacy caused increased black turnout, and the black community is homophobic.”

Never mind that it was voters 65 and over who put Prop 8 over the top, or that one of the whitest institutions in America–the Mormon Church–funnelled millions of dollars from Utah to California to make sure that 8 passed. The parts of the state that went solid for 8 were the inland areas, which are overwhelmingly white.

There’s no question that homophobia is a problem in the black community, especially the churchgoing segment of said community. And even though I understand why Obama (and all of the other serious Democratic candidates) weaseled on marriage equality, that doesn’t mean I’m not disappointed in him for not taking a strong stand against 8.

At the same time, I’m frustrated and angry by the rush to pin this defeat on African Americans. It wasn’t a black group that put Prop 8 on the ballot, and paid the signature-gatherers and bankrolled the ads. Nor is it fair to say that Obama’s have-it-both-ways position meant that black voters were going to march sheeplike to the polls and vote as Obama dictated.

Writing off an entire race as hopelessly unenlightened isn’t going to help; in fact, a lot of the rhetoric I’ve seen in the left blogosphere tonight is only going to serve to reinforce the idea that “gay” = “white”, and that the gay community only notices people of color when there’s a comparison to the Civil Rights Movement to be made. And the Blame the Brown People push leaves those of us who are queer people of color marginalized by both of our communities.

That’s not the way to build a coalition, and it’s not the way to win.”

Proposition 8 was an unjust law and I fully expect mourning and venting — and not just from gay people. But it is important to remember that there are gay people of color also grieving this injustice.


Fallout From Proposition 8

Don’t get me wrong. I am thrilled we won the presidency and have majorities in the House and Senate. All the anti-abortion ballot measures failed and progressive legislation like animal rights in California passed. I disagree that this is a “center-right country” as Newsweek editor Jon Meacham recently claimed.

But it was hard for me not to take the passage of anti-gay amendments in Florida, Arkansas, Arizona and California personally. I found them ignorant, bigoted and just plain mean.

I do have very good gay friends, which is why this is such a personal issue for me, and I have already heard and seen their faces this morning. My childhood friend Teresa, who still lives in Florida and just got engaged to her partner Val, sent me a text message last night in utter disbelief that her fellow Floridians voted over 60 percent to amend the constitution to outlaw all domestic partnerships, including straight relationships. She was going to get married in California. But that probably won’t happen now that Proposition 8 passed.

This morning my friend Jen, who shares a nanny with me, dropped off her son with a tear-streaked face. She said her older daughter asked her “what’s going to happen to our family?” now that Prop 8 passed. It was an emotional conversation and my husband and I have vowed to keep fighting to overturn this hateful legislation.

On the flip side, we are confident that a President Obama will veto any anti-gay legislation that arrives to his desk, not to mention he is now responsible for appointing our next Supreme Court judges, which is a relief. Jen said she was thrilled that he mentioned gay people in his victory speech.

The fight for equality is a never-ending one and while this is a setback, history has shown us that Americans do correct past injustices. The fact we are even having this conversation is progress!

Of course, much work needs to be done. Jen and I agreed that more exposure to gay families like hers must happen and that more gay people of color must be a part of the national conversation. If we see gay people as “other,” well, that’s a problem. Let’s get over our hangovers first, and then let’s build a movement. I am ready.


Heartfelt Plea to Stop Proposition 8

Write to Marry DayThank you to those of you who participated in “Write to Marry Day.” As Dana pointed out, she received more than 400 submissions! Amazing.

I was glad to see that threw its hat in the ring to fight California’s Proposition 8 and recently ran a compelling essay by Anthony Romero, executive director of ACLU and openly gay Puerto Rican man.

Like Obama’s now famous informercial, I will run Romero’s heartfelt words as my closing argument on this issue:

I hope you will forgive the indulgence when I speak from the heart and tell you my personal story.

You see, I grew up in a loving and supportive household, where my family believed I could be anything I chose—anything except being an openly gay man. Neither of my parents finished high school, and yet, they believed I could accomplish all I set out to do as I went off to Princeton University and Stanford Law School.

They got me through the toughest of times, scrimped and saved, and always believed that failure wasn’t in the cards for me. They had more faith in me than I often had in myself. Whenever my parents visited me at Princeton, my Dad would slip a $20 bill in my pocket when my Mom wasn’t looking. I never had the courage to tell him that the $20 wouldn’t go very far towards my bills, books and tuition. But, it was his support and belief in me that sustained me more than the tens of thousands of dollars I received in scholarships.

When I finished college, they were hugely proud of my—and their—accomplishments. That was until I told them I was gay and wanted to live life as an openly gay man.

Though I always knew I was gay, I didn’t come out to them for many years, as I was afraid of losing the love and support that had allowed me to succeed against all odds. When I did tell them, they cried and even shouted. I ended up leaving their home that night to spend a sleepless night on a friend’s sofa. We were all heartbroken.

When my Mom and I spoke later, my Mom said, “But, Antonio (that’s the name she uses with me), hasn’t your life been hard enough? People will hurt you and hate you because of this.” She, of course, was right—as gay and lesbian people didn’t only suffer discrimination from working class, Puerto Rican Catholics, but from the broader society. She felt that I had escaped the public housing projects in the Bronx, only to suffer another prejudice—one that might be harder to beat—as the law wasn’t on my side. At the time, it felt like her own homophobia. Now I see there was also a mother’s love and a real desire to protect her son. She was not wrong at a very fundamental level. She knew that treating gay and lesbian people like second class citizens—people who may be worthy of “tolerance, ” as Sarah Palin asserts, but not of equality—was and still is the last socially-acceptable prejudice.

Even before I came out to them, I struggled to accept myself as a gay man. I didn’t want to lose the love of my family, and I wanted a family of my own—however I defined it. I ultimately chose to find my own way in life as a gay man. This wasn’t as easy as it sounds even though it was the mid-1980s. I watched loved ones and friends die of AIDS. I was convinced I would never see my 40th birthday, much less find a partner whom I could marry.

As years passed, my Mom, Dad and I came to a peace, and they came to love and respect me for who I am. They even came to defend my right to live with equality and dignity—often fighting against the homophobia they heard among their family and friends and in church.

The right to be equal citizens and to marry whomever we wish—unimaginable to me when I first came out—is now ours to lose in California unless we stand up for what’s right. All of us must fight against what’s wrong. In my 43 short years of life, I have seen gay and lesbian people go from pariahs and objects of legally-sanctioned discrimination to being on the cusp of full equality. The unimaginable comes true in our America if we make it happen. But, it requires effort and struggle.

One of the things I love about the ACLU is that it’s an organization that understands we are all in this together. We recognize that injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.

Given what’s at stake in the outcome of this election, I am personally appealing to you for help to fight the forces of intolerance from carrying the day in California next Tuesday.

If you have friends and family in California, please contact them right now, and ask them to vote NO on Proposition 8. You can send them a message here.

We need to make sure people keep in mind that gay people are part of every family and every community—that like everyone else, gay people want the same rights to commit to their partners, to take care of each other and to take responsibility for each other. We shouldn’t deny that, and we shouldn’t write discrimination into any constitution in any state. Certainly, we can’t let that happen in California after the highest court in the state granted gay and lesbian people their full equality.

Unfortunately, due to a vicious, deceitful $30 million advertising blitz, the supporters of Prop 8 may be within days of taking that fundamental right away.

To stop the forces of discrimination from succeeding, we have to win over conflicted voters who aren’t sure they’re ready for gay marriage but who are also uncomfortable going into a voting booth and stripping away people’s rights. With the ACLU contributing time, energy and millions of dollars to the effort, we’re working hard to reach those key voters before next Tuesday.

If you have friends and family in California, please contact them right now, and ask them to vote NO on Proposition 8. Share this email with them. Call them. Direct them to our website for more information.

Don’t let other young people grow up to be afraid to be who they are because of the discrimination and prejudice they might face. Let them see a future that the generation before them couldn’t even dream of—a future as full and equal citizens of the greatest democracy on earth.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” As we strive to defeat Prop 8 and the injustice it represents, the ACLU is trying to make that arc a little shorter.

On behalf of my Mom and family, and on behalf of all the people who will never face legally-sanctioned discrimination, I thank you for being part of this struggle and for doing everything you can to help.

It is a privilege and honor to have you as allies in this fight for dignity and equality.

With enormous appreciation,


Over 400 Posts for Write to Marry Day

Write to Marry DayWow. Bloggers contributed over 400 posts for Write to Marry Day, sharing both personal and political reasons for standing against California’s Proposition 8. Participants included both LGBT bloggers and non-LGBT allies, parents, people of faith, national and state LGBT and civil rights organizations, and blogs both large and small.

Many thanks to all of you who posted and encouraged others to do so. I know many of you have been writing against Prop 8 for months now. I hope our united voices helped each of ours carry a little farther. Regardless of whether you participated, please hop over and peruse the posts. They’re a great mix of personal and political.

I’ll continue to take late submissions of posts up to Election Day, but the contest for the Amazon gift certificate is closed.

Despite the success of this event, things are looking grim for equality right now. No On 8 told people Wednesday: “Unless we raise $3 million in the next three days we will likely lose.“

To move the message, the campaign must push hard in print, radio and television ads. Please go to the Equality for All ActBlue page to give your donations.

Also, on Thursday, the No On Prop 8 page was hit by a denial-of-service attack designed to block others from accessing the site. It’s up as of this writing, but has been iffy. The Equality for All ActBlue page is still working, however, so people can continue to give even in the face of this heinous act. The Secret Service is investigating.

Money is the greatest need now to fight Prop 8, but community leaders in California are also reminding people:

  • For those who vote in California: Don’t Stop at the Top! – Propositions are at the bottom of the ballot. At Don’t Stop at the Top people can submit mobile numbers of friends in California so on election day they are reminded to vote down ballot.
  • No On 8 is seeking volunteers to help with Get Out The Vote efforts throughout the state. To volunteer, visit the No On 8’s Netroots page.


What I Did To Fight Proposition 8

Write to Marry DayLike all progressive voters this election, I have been freaking out. But unlike previous voting cycles, I decided to take that excess nervous energy and productively use it to fight for the candidates and issues I care about.

I have donated to many Democratic candidates, including Sen. Barack Obama. I phone-banked for his campaign (twice) and after donating money at least a few times I phone-banked last night on behalf of the “No on Prop 8” campaign, a major ballot initiative in my home state of California that would take away gays’ and lesbians’ right to legally marry.

I admit I was a tad nervous to talk to voters about this issue and was even relieved when many folks weren’t home. As someone who grew up in a religious immigrant household, I knew some people viewed the gay lifestyle as a sexual perversion and not legitimate way for a family to live. But after talking to many people — in conservative Orange County no less! —  I was proven wrong and am grateful that I made the calls. Here is my tally sheet:

Total Calls Made: 40
NO on 8 Voter: 9
YES on 8 Voter: 0
Undecided or Unsure of how they’ll vote on 8: 1
Refuses to State how they’ll vote–not the same as hanging up: 6
Wrong Numbers: 3
Mailbox full: 1
Not Home: 18
Hang Up: 2

I am assuming the hang-ups and “refuses to state” are all Proposition 8 supporters. But the ballot initiative’s opponents were not only more numerous, they also shared my passion, letting me know that everyone in their household was going to vote “no,” as well as everyone they knew. They encouraged me to “keep up the good fight,” even if they themselves did not have time to volunteer. It felt good and my husband agreed with me that these were good numbers for Orange County.

I am not as nervous anymore not because there isn’t a possibility that we may lose, but because I know in my heart that I have done everything possible to help the cause. I even signed up for a few hours on election day to man a table and encourage voters to vote “no” on this proposition.

Seriously, if you have a moment to donate money or make a few calls, please do. Win or lose, you won’t regret it.


Write to Marry Day Is October 29

Write to Marry DayPlease join bloggers around the country and around the world on Wednesday, October 29 to blog in support of marriage equality for same-sex couples and against California’s Proposition 8.

The event will give bloggers a chance to voice their opposition to Prop 8 and highlight what they may have already done, online or off, to stop the measure. The campaign will also educate California voters of the need to “go all the way” down the ballot to vote on the proposition.

To participate, post on your own blog against Prop 8 on or before October 29, 2008, then visit Mombian to submit the link to your post. Links to your own videos on YouTube or other video sites are also accepted. All participants who leave a valid e-mail address will be entered into a drawing for a $50 gift certificate to

I will showcase the full list of participants at Mombian on October 29.

Many of you have already done much to try and stop Prop 8 in California, donating and raising money, blogging, and talking with friends and family. Thanks! Please share your efforts and post about them for Write to Marry Day, or submit a link to a previous post. This will help us create a comprehensive view of bloggers’ efforts to stop Prop 8.

I urge you to spread the word about this event as widely as possible. All bloggers who are against Prop 8 are welcome to contribute posts, regardless of where they live or whether they are LGBT or not.

Many thanks for helping to preserve the right to marry for all citizens of California. A step backwards here could have negative repercussions in many other states as well. I’ve never believed our country is about taking away people’s right to happiness. Let’s make sure it isn’t.


10 Things You Can Do to Stop the Props

Florida’s Prop 2, California’s Prop 8, Arizona’s Prop 102: These are the measures that could make marriage for same-sex couples unconstitutional under state law, and take away the existing right to marry for same-sex couples in California. Many people have already given money to fight them. (If you haven’t, you can click one of the links above, donate, then continue reading.)

With two weeks to go now before the election, what else can you do, especially if you are a busy parent or don’t live in one of these states, to stop any or all of these measures from passing? How can you keep informed and help spread the word? Here are some ideas, in no particular order. Please feel free to add more in the comments.

  1. Remind your friends and family to vote. More importantly, if they have transportation or childcare issues, help connect them with someone who can give them a ride or watch the kids while they vote.
  2. Friend the No organizations on Facebook: 2, 8, 102 or My Space: 2, 8, 102.
  3. Friend them on YouTube, and pass along their videos: 2, 8. No On 102 does not seem to have its own YouTube page, but lists supportive videos here.
  4. Follow them on Twitter: 2, 8. (No On 102 doesn’t seem to be on Twitter.)
  5. Post about the Props on your own blog and social networking pages, or comment on someone else’s.
  6. E-mail everyone you know, and post to listservs you’re on.
  7. Write a letter to the editor of your local paper. Even if you don’t live in Arizona, California, or Florida, you can explain why these are crucial matters for citizens everywhere.
  8. E-mail or phone your members of Congress and local officials. Works best in the states with the props.
  9. Buy bumper stickers, yard signs, and other items: 2, 8, 102. Alternatively, print your own: 2, 8, 102. (Every parent should have a pack of full-page blank sticker sheets anyway, for fun with the kids, IMHO.)
  10. Talk with everyone you know. Don’t let a conversation go by without mentioning why defeating these props matters to you and your family. Even if you don’t live in Arizona, California, or Florida, you never know who might have other friends or relatives there.

Thursday Open Thread

My “after shower ritual” consists of the same thing; after drying up, I mosturize…from head to toe. So you can imagine my concern after reading about a new study published in the Journal of Investigative Dermatology, which stated that some skin moisturizers may increase the chances of getting a type of skin cancer called squaumous cell carcimona. Scientist suspect mineral oil and sodium laurel sulphate, two common additives in moisturizers are the culprit. Ugh…guess it’s time to start reading labels.

On the plus side, researchers from the Monell Center used a machine called gas chromatography-mass spectrometry to identify the precise chemical composition of a common form of skin cancer. What that means is that basal cell carcinomas could be diagnosed, using this machine, by the distinctive chemical “scent” it gives off. Interesting!

Congratulations to Ellen Degeneres and Portia De Rossi, who have made it legal! Ellen posted the following on her blog:

You may notice something different about the way I’m writing…it’s fancy. This is the font I type in now that I’m MARRIED! I do a lot of things differently now …I say, “I do” a lot. For example: Who wants to do pilates? I do. Would you like a Mountain Dew? I do. Do you know why I pulled you over? I do. And that was just this morning.

Congratulations to the happy couple!

In related news, a non-profit organization called Let Freedom Ring, released a new commercial that doesn’t mention Proposition 8, at all. In fact, “it puts viewers in the shoes of so many gay and lesbian couples who want to marry the person they love.” I dare you to watch the commercial and have dry eyes by the end of it.

On a side note, I would like to apologize if I’ve covered news that has already been covered. I’ve been away for a little bit and haven’t caught up on my MT reading!

So, what have I missed? What’s up with you?