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Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Sonoma County Protests Propisition 8


Rallies are being held around the state and nationally to protest the state of California writing discrimination into our constitution.

We will be rallying in Sonoma County
Saturday November 15th, 10:30am at Courthouse Square in Santa Rosa.
between 3rd & 4th Streets at Mendocino Avenue

Come and show your support. All are welcome!
A lawsuit is being filed, we're trying to get Sonoma County to sign on to the lawsuit as a petitioner. Our Democratic State Representatives have signed on to a "Friends of the Court" brief to show their support for equal rights.
Come and stand for equality!

Below are two essays submitted to WCG on this subject - there are more. Thanks for reading.


The Saga of Proposition 8

By Maddy Hirshfield

Election Night, November 4th, 2008 will go down as a night of mixed results and mixed emotions. Never has my heart been so lifted and so broken all at once. The same night that brought an end to the wretched truism that only a white man could be elected president, brought us news that the people of California had decided to enshrine bigotry and discrimination into our state constitution.

As of 1:09 pm, Monday November 10, Prop 8 stood at 52.3% Yes and 47.7% No. Out of almost 11 million votes cast that's a difference of a little less than half a million. There's a law suit in process that Los Angeles; San Francisco and Santa Clara have filed and the wheels are turning to get Sonoma County signed on as a co-petitioner.

Proposition 8 is but the latest chapter in a tortured story of the struggle for equal rights, a story of the intolerant seeking to use the most sacred tools of democracy to demonize and marginalize those with whom they disagree. In 2000, its predecessor, Proposition 22, was overwhelmingly passed in California. Prop 22 consisted of fourteen words: "Only marriage between a man and women is valid or recognized in California." On May 15th, 2008, the Republican-dominated, moderately conservative California Supreme Court struck down Proposition 22. Chief Justice Ron George wrote for the majority: "Our state now recognizes that an individual's capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual's sexual orientation," The statement by George went on: "An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights."

At that point, the only thing left for those in opposition to marriage equality was to have those same fourteen words written into our Constitution. The good news: All they had was fear and intimidation. The bad news: fear and intimidation worked.

The lawsuit now being filed is an argument over whether Proposition 8 constitutes an "amendment" or a "revision" as each needs to find its way to the ballot via a different path. But that's for the legal types to sort out. On the practical side, I simply do not understand how it's possible to write discrimination INTO the constitution. What if a group of people got together and were successful getting an initiative on the ballot that would amend our Constitution to make it illegal for Latinos to have bank accounts, or for people of color to sit anywhere on the bus they wanted, or drink from the water fountain of their choosing. And let's for argument sake say that amendment to the Constitution passed by a majority of voters. Would we then simply sit back and say, "Oh well, the people have spoken?" Of course not!

Our adversaries say gays have all the rights of marriage now with domestic partnership. Even if that were true -- which it is not -- we learned a long time ago that separate is not equal. Back in the days when people of color had to ride in the back of the bus and drink from separate fountains they still reached their destinations and had their thirst quenched. But we stopped doing that because we figured out it was wrong to treat people differently ... and it still is.

However, here is my glass-half-full view of things as we move forward in this process.

• Statewide, we came so much closer to defeating Prop 8 than we did with Prop 22 in 2000.

• We here in Sonoma County turned Prop 8 down by more than 40 percentage points, we only defeated Prop 22 by 6.

• I've received beautiful, supportive emails from friends who say they just don't understand. And they tell me about conversations with co-workers who feel the same.

• I also get emails from supporters who tell me they know it's coming because they listen to their 12-year-old kids talking with their friends, and the 12-year-olds don't get what the problem is either.

• And ... Barack Obama was elected President of the United States.

I literally sobbed through our new President-elect's entire acceptance speech. And when he got to the part where he said "all Americans" must come together, "black, white, young, old, gay, straight"... a voice in my head kept saying, "it's going to be all right" over and over again, "it's going to be all right."

I believe in "protecting the rights of the minority from the tyranny of the majority" and I have faith that's exactly what we will do.

I also have faith that it will be all right because the majority will soon be the minority. Those 12 year olds are growing up … and we older folks live to fight another day.


Maddy Hirshfield is a long time political activist. She currently works for Assemblywoman Patty Berg who recently signed on to a "Friend of the Court" brief along with a majority of other legislators to overturn Prop 8."


An open letter to supporters of Prop 8:

My name is Sabina and I and coming out of the closet to tell you...that I'm left-handed. Yes I know that it's been apparent for most of my life, but I need to publicly state it.

What's the big deal about being a lefty? Well these days society's majority of right-handers doesn't look down on the 10% of us who aren't, but that hasn't been the case for most of history.

The settlers of this country used left-handedness as evidence of being in league with the Devil. Yes, being a southpaw in Salem was proof of being a witch and reason enough to burn or drown you.

Being left-handed was always seen as being suspect, of not being normal, of being other. The Romans considered the right side the source of good, and all negative things as emanating from the left. In fact, the Latin for "the left side" is sinister, with all the connotations and meanings that word still carries today.

Even as recently as the last century being left-handed was looked on as being wrong somehow. My great-uncle Alberto was born lefty. His family tied his arm to his side and forced him to use his right hand. In the end, his community still looked at him as a left-handed man who was using his right instead.

And why this suspicion of lefties? No one has ever been able to give me a satisfactory reason. I hear a lot of stuff about the Bible and "the right-hand of G-d," about how it doesn't look normal, about being taught to think that way. Mostly I hear about how being different from the norm is wrong.

Luckily for me, people--and society-- have the ability to change their views. When it became apparent that I was left-handed, my parents did not try to change me. In fact, my family and community did not even give any notice to it. It was just a part of who I was, along with my blue eyes or my brown hair. And while it can sometimes be a challenge to be a lefty--guitars are strung wrong, scissors don't cut correctly, the design on my coffee mug never faces me when I drink from it--I know that being different is not seen as being not-normal.

By the way, I also happen to be Jewish and gay. Most people have let go of their discrimination of the former; it's not seen as acceptable for Americans to voice anti-Semitic comments. I look forward to the day when you let go of your fear of the latter as well. You can change the way you've been taught to look at people who are different from you.

Sabina Fried

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