Sunday, May 1, 2011

The Flip Side of "Change" and "Hope"

Originally Posted on November 6, 2008

The election was mainly about President-elect Barack Obama. Though history was made, there were some drawbacks to discuss. After all, this election was not perfect.

For example, I wasn’t thrilled to find out that the voters in California amended the state Constitution be reverting 18,000 marriages in the process. Granted the state Supreme Court reversed an earlier proposition by granting these licenses to same-gender couples, it seems that the majority of Californians aren’t ready to co-exist with the married gay couple next door.

My first reaction to this was downright embarrassment and disappointment for that state I was born in and grew up in. Then the anger came, fueled by the knowledge of friends and acquaintances that went through the process of legalized marriage this summer.

Granted, California has all of the protections needed for GLBT individuals and, to a small extent, couples. It is my understanding that California is one of the few states that will allow the significant other of a patient the right of visitation at a hospital. There are domestic partnerships, which is not exactly marriage since it does not give full taxation rights.

I considered confronting my family and those who whom I associated with when I was younger to see where they voted on Proposition 8. It was a gut reaction fueled by selfish interests. The “what if” scenarios are too frightening to think of. “What if the people I grew up actually voted for Proposition 8 knowing full well they know someone who is gay?” Would that be considered betrayal over three decades of friendships? Considering some of the vibes I got after the reunion in April, maybe I should consider being better off without these people in my life.

Then again, a few people in my life once told me that sometimes “politics can be personal.”

So, “What if Randy Stern came back to California and marry the man he loves?” Not that I’m seeing anyone or thinking about getting married at the age of 44…not after seeing a few of my friends go through divorce, bad breakups and other relationship-based issues.

What am I going to do about this? As I mentioned in my last post, there are a few things I’d like to see happen in the Obama administration. Perhaps it takes initiative to reach out my members of Congress, such as Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN 5) and Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN). Maybe I should engage with my former representatives from old home districts, such as Representatives George Miller (D-CA 7), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA 6) and Tammy Baldwin (D-WI 3), Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Jim Webb (D-VA), Mark Warner (D-VA), Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Herb Kohl (D-WI).

What I would like to accomplish by engaging these members of Congress is to advocate Federal-level civil rights gains for our people. The main points of legislation to advocate are to amend the Civil Rights Act of 1964, execute the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and, reverse "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" for us to serve openly in the armed forces without exclusions. The idea behind this is the fact that President Obama said he support GLBT issues, even without touching the marriage issue. If so, then he would sign these bills out of the next Congress for once and for all.

Perhaps this is the best way to ensure that on the Federal level that the conditions for same-gender marriage are met before the "prize" is asked of Congress. In the meantime, those places where the conditions are met through comprehensive civil rights protections for GLBT people, including California, to get a state-level mandate on this issue. There are rumblings of a challenge to this vote in part due to  the margin of victory was narrower than the previous ballot measure that went to the state courts in California.

Understand that as much as I want to get angry, run through the streets of Los Angeles and challenge a police officer with a baton in name of “fighting the power,” there are better ways to fight for our rights. Cooler heads will prevail, but we need to have our voices heard. Our citizenship is at stake.

Let me say this: The election of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America restored my faith in this country. Yet, the euphoria of this election has tempered me because some of the people that used to be in my life basically said that if I ever come back to California, fell in love and want to get married, that will never happen.

Today, I challenge the notion that I am less than my citizenship entails me. I’ve been there before as a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia a decade ago. Prior to the Lawrence-v-Texas decision of the Federal Supreme Court, it was illegal for me to engage in intimate relations with another person of the same gender in Virginia. Now, as with the late 1990’s, I will never stand for being told that I cannot partake in the American creed of “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

What about you? Will you join me to keep Obama’s word on supporting the GLBT community by getting Congress to key critical legislation for the new President to sign?

1 comment:



    Matt: My wife and I are Californians who voted no on 8.

    Of the many reasons for voting against it, there are the millions that the state will have to spend dealing with the legal challenges resulting from this passing. With the state $4 billion in debt, that’s money we can’t afford to waste. As a straight couple, we’re more concerned about whether there is enough money to fund our children’s schools and provide adequate police and fire protection than whether the gay couple down the street wants to marry.

    The reason why California went for Obama and Proposition 8 is that they don’t see the connection between the economy and “protecting marriage.” Money problems are among the main causes of marriages failing. The economic devastation caused by 8 years of Bush and the neo-cons put a tremendous strain on middle-class families. The right used gays as a scapegoat to divert attention from their failures. Unfortunately, the California electorate fell for it.

    Not only should we seek to overturn Proposition 8, we should also require that changes to the California constitution be approved by a 2/3 vote instead of a simple majority. Never again should we make it easy to discriminate against any group of people.


    Tom: It would be personal for me.

    Had I known *anyone* that was not voting against prop 8, I would have personally called them and at least ask them why, AND tell them how they are personally affecting me and my loved ones with a “YES” vote.

    I was preparing to do this in Massachusetts since I know so many more conservative people there (yeah, my parents are AGAINST gay marriage), but luckily it has not come to that. Yet.

    It’s also a bit crazy that Californians can change the constitution and disenfranchise entire groups of people on a simple majority!