I have to admit something. I've been feeling incredibly helpless about Proposition 8. Despite what I've done (donated money, put up signs, put up more signs when those were stolen, blogged about it, emailed friends & family, blogged some more, had shirts and hats made for friends & family, and worn mine till it was ripe (and then I washed it, and wore it some more), donated more money, blogged more, etc...), I am truly afraid none of it will be enough. My friend Vic said the same thing to me today, and this post describes exactly the same feeling. I really have a lot of fear; and I don't know what I will do, or how I will cope with it, if Prop 8 passes.
This is sort of what I equate the feeling to. Do you remember October 3, 1995; the day OJ Simpson was acquitted of the murder of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman? I remember that day vividly, gathered around the TV in the gym at work, with 25+ other co-workers, mostly women, anxiously awaiting the verdict. And then it came. Like a collective punch to the gut you weren't in the least prepared for. I lost my breath. I lost my words. Then there was anger, deep, deep anger. Followed by an overwhelming feeling of being let down. Let down by the judicial system, and by people, Californians. As I contemplate Prop 8 passing, that feeling is rising up in me again. Only this time it's even more personal. The Simpson acquittal was a blow because the injustice seemed so obvious; this would be a personal blow. It would be the only time California voters amended the state constitution to take away rights, my rights, instead of expanding them. Not merely passed a law, but amended the state constitution. About me. Holy shit. You can't get more personal than that.
I can't help feeling that I should have done more. Specifically, that I should have had more personal conversations. That I should have canvassed my neighborhood, and talked personally with my neighbors.
When it came down to it though, I didn't want to know if my neighbors were going to say to my face, "I DO want to take away your rights." I have to live on this street for a loooooong time (unless I discover oil in my backyard, or win the lottery) and I don't think I could take walking and driving past my neighbors' houses knowing for certain how they felt about my rights. I was afraid talking to my neighbors would make me feel worse, and for a long time.
But here's what I did do. I read through my email on Sunday, and all the wonderful comments my new readers have left (Hi new readers!!!), and I looked for something I could do, something that would make me feel better, not worse. I found out from a member of Our Family Coalition (who just happens to be a former Castro Valley resident herself) that there was going to be a rally in Castro Valley, of all places, later in the afternoon. I talked to Laura and she was in. So we set to work making signs, sending emails, updating this blog, and making phone calls. I also made a quick trip to the Hayward Democratic Headquarters for more No on 8 signs, and they had plenty - I took a big stack!
At 4:00 we went down to the busiest intersection in Castro Valley (CV Boulevard & Redwood Road) and stood their with our home made No on 8 signs. At first it was my family of four and one other lesbian parent from the girls' school. Then 1 more person joined us. He'd read about it on Twitter - MY twitter post! Wow, a complete stranger, another No on 8 supporter, who lives basically down the street from me, came down because of my
Twitter post. Cool. Then 2 more joined us.
Then the Yes on 8 crowd arrived. 10 or so people, kids in tow, all neatly dressed (as if just from church) with home made Yes on 8 signs in English & Spanish. When they walked up, I couldn't not confront them. I just couldn't. I looked one man, a father, in the eyes and I asked him:
Why do you want to take away my rights?
How will taking away my rights protect your marriage? Really? How do my rights impact your marriage?I'm actually glad that at that moment Laura sent me to the car for something (a jacket?). She didn't know I was talking to them, it was just coincidence. The man wouldn't answer me. Wouldn't say anything at all. I went to the car, retrieved the necessary item and came back. From that point forward, I decided it was better if I ignored them.
Over the next 40 minutes many others joined us, we spread out to the 4 corners of the intersection, and most importantly, we received 75% of the positive support from the cars passing by! One of my daughters thought up and made a sign that said "Don't Be Mean To My Family". The other one wanted to write, "You should let gay people marry!" but our markers were running out, so she opted for an 8 in a red circle with a slash through it. The girls marched, and danced, and counted how many people honked for us, and how many people honked for the Yes on 8 folks. Even they could tell we had the vast majority of the support!
You know what the Yes on 8 folks did then? They left. And we continued to rally and wave our signs, and shout for our rights for another hour. At least 20 people were there, half of whom were there because of my small, last minute, efforts to recruit volunteers. My neighbor, the fellow lesbian moms, a mom from my kids' soccer team (and her mom, her kid, and her niece), someone who read my twitter post, and someone who I think, read about here on my blog! (Who are you?? You talked to Laura; I'd love it if you left a comment!) were all there, because I took action. A small action.
If everybody did what I did - which really wasn't much at all compared to the time so many have devoted to the cause - but if everyone did one small thing - imagine the impact. Imagine the turnout! And don't think that the small effort doesn't matter. It matters more than ever. I quote:
We are in a statistical tie. This will come down to a handful of votes. Think Florida, year 2000, hanging chads, 300 some-odd votes turning the tide of a national election and, as we well know, history. For this reason, at this point, EVERY SINGLE VOTE COUNTS. Everything you can do to ensure this message gets to every possible California voter in your reach MATTERS.