06 November 2008

On Fairness and Freedom

Hello, dear Reader! Did you miss me? I've missed me, too.

Sable Crow has been fighting on the front lines of two wars--one financial, one civil--that have left his feathers ruffled and his beak a little scratched.

Later, I have pictures from last night's civil rights march (What do you wear for a civil rights march, Diabolina?), and more thoughts on where we're going economically.

For now, I have some thoughts on 8.

I have been callously calling for a financial crisis to awaken our sense of fiscal responsibility. Sadly, my calls have been answered, and the style pages of the Wall Street Journal now speak of self-restraint as the new chic. Quelle surprise: we're more prosperous if we save and invest than if we squander our money on foreign goods.

But we have other responsibilities as well...

In the gay rights movement (what, there's a gay rights movement? EXACTLY) the passage of Prop 8 has been another kind of wake-up call, and has had an unintended consequence: a sleeping dragon has been awakened. Now is the time for us to rise up with many voices, this time with a powerful network of business, ethnic, and religious leaders, and demand equality. Progress was so soothing, so inexorable, so taken for granted. If we've learned anything, it's not to take freedom for granted.

First, a word about blame: I can't imagine anything that would make the Mormon or Catholic churches more happy than if we spent our resources fighting the black community or within our own. What a joy for them! Eliminate marriage equality and get your adversaries in-fighting, all in one fell swoop!

Tempting though it may be, let's not do it. Let's stay focused:

They voted to silence us.
They counted on our 'tolerance' of their bigotry.
Their fondest hope is our acceptance of this travesty.

They will be greatly disappointed.

We will not be silent: The conversations have begun in workplaces (even my own!), in homes around the state, and even in places of worship. Fair-minded people who were scared can still be reached with civil discourse. There were so many, and it is a hard road to bring reason to a frightened public. Reason doesn't make for good spot-ads, and it doesn't make for good drama. It's just boring old civic equality.

But look at the national discourse: the politics of fear and hate can only stand so long against the voices of millions speaking in unity.

It's too late, Sable Crow, says the Skeptical Reader. It's already passed. This should have come before.

I ask: When is it too late for progress? The first setback? The second? The 50th? Was 1920 too late for women's suffrage? Was 1954 too late for integration of schools? Was 1967 too late for interracial marriage? (Look at the parallels in these links to the struggle we now face.) It's not too late. This was no referrendum. This was a sliver, a splinter under a nail, a whimper of a victory. Our rights will not be deprived by constitutional hijacking. The Proposition will be overturned.

But make no mistake: it is our responsibility to speak out and build bridges of the heart. To revive the movement, we must, as Yoda might say. I think he'd probably be on the side of fairness and freedom.

Who is "we," Sable Crow? you ask. Good question.

"We" are fair-minded and rational people, speaking out to those outside the gay and lesbian community. It is not only gays and lesbians that must speak. We are a minority, however visible. We need our allies to succeed.

So many of my friends talked to their parents. Speak out more. If you're straight, say "gay" without meaning "fucked up" and talk to people about civil equality. That's it. Talk to them about fairness. Dare to speak to your grandparents. They want to hear from you anyway.

I talked to mine about same-gender marriage, and they SHOCKED me. A Methodist and a Presbyterian, each in their late eighties, said: The answer is clear. [Here it comes, I thought...] Let people love and get married as they wish. We have enough to worry about without depriving people of that basic human right. Our hope for you, Sable Crow, is that we get to meet the man you will marry.

I was stunned.

When the fearful bring up children, ask them why it's bad to have children know that gays exist. Be warned. To answer, they must uproot their prejudice and fear. To answer this question, a person must look at what it is that is BAD about gays and lesbians. They will find little substance behind the cloak of visceral fear.


It's ironic that we can't teach kids to read or do basic math, but we're sure afriad they might learn about diversity and acceptance. If they learn about that, how will kids act? With acceptance? How will they learn to hate or fear?

WE DO EXIST. WE ARE NOT GOING AWAY.


If you like this post, and don't know what to say yourself, share it with someone you think is fair and resonable. Honor me by letting me speak on your behalf. Ask for their help. Ask for their ear, and maybe their voice, if they are brave and freedom-loving Americans. Don't be afraid to speak. Half the people you speak to already agree, anyway. But we cannot and will not be quiet any more.

To those Readers who are outside the gay and lesbian community, let me tell you about us:
We pay taxes. We buy goods. We work. We laugh. We cry. We hope. We struggle, we love, and we die.

We're the same as everyone else. We ARE everyone else.

We are one. And yes, We can, too.

15 comments:

amber said...

:( last night, in between giving me the legal arguments and what the next steps will likely be, my lawyer husband couldn't stop saying "i just don't get it." meaning, of course, he just doesn't get how the prop passed at all.

i agree with you whole-heartedly that rational discussion is the way to tackle this. there is a group of people that you're never going to reach, however, there are a bunch of people that will change their minds with people really talking to them and presenting the issues to them with rational arguments.

there is still more work to be done, but eventually it's going to happen.

WeezerMonkey said...

Fantastic post. I send you much love!

A Feminist Gold Digger said...

Thanks weemo for telling me to come read this. I'm bawling. AGAIN.

venn said...

(Confession: I've been sort of blog-stalking you, led here awhile ago by a link from WeezerMonkey's blog.)

Just wanted to say that your response to the passing of Prop 8 floors me. Instead of expressing anger and outrage that would be completely justified, you choose to fight back with patience, understanding and perseverance. You will be a much more dangerous foe to all those that continue to be ignorant, intolerant, and hateful. Thank you for this honest and sober post. I'll be spreading it around to many friends.

Diabolina 3.1 said...

Remember your words are your gift. Use them now. Your cause, all of us, and your spirit demand it.

Sable Crow said...

Amber: We really need your help to continue the discourse. Our greatest enemy is ambivalence, which is the parent of prejudice.

FGD: Don't cry for me, Argentina. :) The truth is I never left you.

Venn: Your words inspire me, and thank you. No reason to lurk. This is a conversation, not a rant. Anger? Outrage? You bet. I've marched twice since Tuesday, and sat in more major intersections than I ever imagined (it's really something to see the center of Wilshire and Santa Monica from a seated position...). But that MUST be in service of something, and an open dialogue is crucial.

WeMo and D-Mo: It is a time of storms, and this little ship faces high black waves and angry skies. You are my beacons on dark ragged cliffs. I look to your lights for hope. Please keep your hearts shining, please keep directing people to me, and please stay hopeful.

Lynn said...

I weep for you, both in sadness and in joy. Sadness because there are people out there who will deny you of your basic right, but my tears are also of joy, because I see that their hatred has not killed the spirit in you but rather ignited your passion even more.

Ann Marie said...

I was directed here by WeeMo and wholeheartedly agree with you. Especially with regard to this: "When the fearful bring up children, ask them why it's bad to have children know that gays exist."

I was born and raised in San Francisco. My mom worked at a hospital in the heart of the Castro, during the height of the AIDS crisis. I honestly can't remember a time when I hadn't heard of or been aware of gay people. That knowledge didn't ruin my childhood or destroy my life as an adult. So the right-wing's argument of "protect the children" has always baffled me. Protect them from what exactly? An open mind? Tolerance? Compassion? Friendship?

The most frustrating part of seeing yes on 8 rallies was seeing people bring their children with them, encouraging the next generation to discriminate.

Sara said...

Thank you...This was very well written and moving!! I will be forwarding this around to people I know...its THAT important@

amber said...

i agree with you whole-heartedly. prop 8 keeps coming up in lunchtime discussions at work and i'm right there with my opinions. i'm under no impression that it's going to change someone's mind overnight, but eventually, it's bound to make some sort of difference.

Jessica said...

Weezermonkey shared this with me, and it's awesome. I will pass it along as well.

Sable Crow said...

All: your spirit of open discourse is a balm in these dark times.

Thank you so much for your words.

You can also help directly at:

www.invalidateprop8.com

The more the merrier. It's only a few minutes, and imagine the impact that $10 could have! You know they pay attention to numbers and donors, so a small donation is INFINITELY more impactful than nothing.

Stephanie said...

Weezermonkey shared this with me too, and I agree. This is awesome. I too will pass it along.

Leslie said...

A wonderful post - thanks to WeeMo for the link.

Much, much love to you. Let's fight the good fight!

willikat said...

I am a straight person who believes in equal rights for everyone, whomever they love.I wish I lived in Cali so I could have voted on Prop 8. I wish that the joy of Obama's election wasn't marred by this terrible turn of events (as well as some scary Republican elections in Minnesota). When we achieve equality, we're all free. I'll link to your blog as soon as I can on mine.