Kate Kendell

What Hangs in the Balance

Filed By Kate Kendell | July 31, 2008 6:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: California, court decisions, marriage, National Center for Lesbian Rights, Prop. 8

If we lose California, if they defeat the marriage amendment, I'm afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost. I've never said that publicly until now--but that's just the reality of the fact.

Donald Wildmon, President, American Family Association

Clearly Donald Wildmon gets how high the stakes are when it comes to defeating Prop 8. But of course Wildmon is not entirely accurate--defeating Prop 8 in November does not mean "Christians have lost." It will mean, however, that successfully using religion to scapegoat, shame, and marginalize LGBT people is over.

Many, many Christians and people of faith--and all of us committed to a nation where we truly aspire to respect for common humanity and dignity--will rejoice in the failure of Prop 8 and similar measures in Arkansas, Arizona, and Florida. What Wildmon--one of the most vitriolic anti-LGBT crusaders in the country--understands is that he and those like him will never again be able to terrorize LGBT folks in the name of family, religion, or Christianity. What Wildmon gets is that the future of our movement and our entire struggle for justice, dignity, and equality hangs in the balance in November.

There are some who, while certainly opposed to these measures, do not feel any particular historic urgency. They do not sense the enormity of threat, believe that the only casualty of the fight will be the right to marry for same-sex couples, and since they don't wish to marry, how bad can it be? So in an effort to clear up any confusion, let me make this plain: it will be a devastating catastrophe if we lose these ballot measures.

In California, for the first time, same-sex couples can legally marry. But beyond that, LGBT people in California are now entitled to full equality under the law in every facet of our lives. For the first time--in any state--LGBT people are full and equal citizens under state law.

While the landmark ruling from the California Supreme Court is most notable for ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from the right to marry, the most groundbreaking part of the opinion was the Court's holding that virtually any law that discriminates on the basis of sexual orientation will be invalidated. For the first time ever, a high court extended to sexual orientation the same legal protection given to gender, religion, race, and national origin. While the words of Prop 8 are limited to marriage ("Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California"), if this initiative were to pass it would be the first step in undermining the broad protections given to all LGBT Californians.

Make no mistake: schools and LGBT youth would be next, as would a broad range of employment, housing protections, and family issues. And if we lose California, when so much hangs in the balance, every anti-LGBT organization will be emboldened, every homophobic politician will be bolstered, every anti-LGBT effort will be strengthened. If we lose California and Arkansas and Arizona and Florida, we will have lost our chance to truly turn the corner and a future free of the most toxic anti-LGBT bias. Donald Wildmon understands what is at stake--he knows his organization will not survive if we prevail. He knows it will be new day.

What kind of world do you want to wake up to on November 5?


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trans californians have equal rights as non-trans californians?

Aren't we getting ahead of ourselves here?

Marriage is important, but it's not the end of the equality fight.

Gerri Ladene | July 31, 2008 10:55 PM

"In California, for the first time, same-sex couples can legally marry. But beyond that, LGBT people in California are now entitled to full equality under the law in every facet of our lives. For the first time--in any state--LGBT people are full and equal citizens under state law."

Yes, this is a monumental and historical gain for LGBT Americans in the process of eliminating unjust barriers and barriers are being broken down daily!!! Now if we can just get a law passed that will criminalize the behavior of these progenitors of hate and discontent! I have no problem with Christians or any other religion as long as they find comfort in their belief; I do however have a problem when people with these beliefs attempt to stomp on mine and try to force theirs on me! So many know exactly what I mean and I feel a need to go further on this.

The question here is, how it came to be that a segment of Americans were made to take a lower social classification, to suffer indignity, to suffer unnecessary prejudice due to their chosen culture? It’s not that LGBT Americans are concerned any less for their Country, Family, Friends and Neighbors than those who questionably claim higher values. LGBT Americans share much the same values as any American and many are Christians themselves but are condemned by a fanatic Christian cultures belief that resembles, actually mirrors that of Muslimism in its taking components out of their bible that suit them of their belief to put down others as commanded by their mullahs!

No wonder, since the basic fanatic religious mantra comes from their belief in a Mid-eastern Monotheistic Patriarchal control system which was given power by a Roman Emperor and still holds power in modern Rome under the supervision of the Vatican. By their own admission, these fanatic fundamentalists shouldn’t be allowed to drive or own a car, computer or any other modern convenience since their faith even condemns modern science in the ignorant belief of biblical creation and insist evolution to be myth. The fact is the bible is based on myths and legends that have survived thru time with the assistance of a political decision of a Roman Emperor who wished to consolidate his power by uniting the Jewish and pagan factions of Rome under one church which he could control. Sound familiar? We have a nation of which one of the founding principles was to be freedom of religion. Apparently only Roman based established religions are acceptable since it gives power to individuals over groups of others! Constantine was well aware of the unifying power of religious belief and used it thoroughly for his own gain.

It is a powerful perception by those who use it to have sway over the minds of people who would freely let themselves be persuaded that is acceptable to hate your neighbor if they do not believe in their concept of a GOD, and follow the words of men who loathe others who will not contribute and bow to them or they have some phobic fear of! It’s not difficult to understand how this type of mind control has survived given that each generation is indoctrinated into it at an age where the mind begins to question the world around them and instead of facts they are given fantasies under the guise of religious doctrine. This has created a culture of narrow minded people who lack the ability to think for themselves and seek blaming the innocent for their own failure to understand reality. This has created many organized entities that claim traditional values, family values and so on, they use comfortable familiar terms to hide their discrimination and a Bible to legitimize their religious intolerance and give power to their hatred! Not all religious sheepherders hate, they actually embrace all into the fold. This is the way it should be, open-mindedness and acceptance of diversity will eventually win out, people are basically good and more are questioning the very reason for any hatred particularly when that hatred is aimed at fellow Americans!

I should probably shut my yap now, since I could go on about this for as long as it takes. This doesn’t mean I’ll stop but rather just cool down some since the basis of what we have to deal with is thoughtless discrimination and I do have an intolerance for that! This is about a culture, a community of LGBT rights to equality and not be cut from the American dream that is Freedom and Equality for all not just those who claim some unjustifiable right to more.

Have I surmised enough yet (;

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 1, 2008 9:56 AM

Kate Kendall is striking exactly the right note.

The Battle of California is a defensive battle to protect our rights. Whoever wins it wins nationally and vice versa. Nothing on our agenda, no matter where you're from, or what your politics are, is even remotely as important. We have to fight back.

Things will change, but for now our lead in the Field Poll has been sitting on 51% for about a month. That's way too close.

The state AFL-CIO has come out against Prop. 8 and the wording in the voter’s pamphlet has been changed. The Chief of Police in LA made a big donation to EQCA and PGE, one of the biggest utility companies in the nation donated $250.000.00.

Excellent news. We should be able to win the Battle of California handily, easily. But we won’t with such a slim lead. The best of polls can’t measure the stealth bigot vote and we need a larger margin to nullify it. Secondly, and this is critical, precious little effort is being made to reach out to women, feminists, African-Americans, Latinos and Filipinos. We have allies in all those communities and they comprise large segments of the states population.

The failure to invest substantial efforts in winning their support was not the only reason we lost the battle for same sex marriage on the last go-around but it was a big contributing factor. We can't afford big mistakes; we have to involve everyone in our battle to win. It's a given that fundamentalist preachers, pastors and priests in some of those communities are going to be doing all they can to deny us our rights. If we abandon the field to them we do so at our peril.


If our people fight one tribe at a time, all will be killed. They can cut off our fingers one by one. But if we join together we will make a powerful fist. Little Turtle, Master General of the Miami Peoples. 1791.

t's critical that we win and our energy and resources shouldn't be wasted campaigning for either of the pigheaded opponents of same sex marriage, John Obama and Barak McCain.

Barak McCain is a rancid right-winger with the Rev. Pat Robertson attached at the hip.

John Obama is a Bill Clinton clone (DOMA, DADT, NAFTA) with the Rev. Donnie McClurkin attached at the hip.

in CA, the courts rule that all deserve the right to marriage. in MD, elected officials pass legislation to end discrimination. in both cases, "moral" opposition seeks to overturn and reverse progress to realize equal rights with a voter referendum. this is a no brainer, the strategy is obvious...having failed to support their position with reasoned argument, they are counting on the prejudice, ignorance, and bigotry that exists within our society to carry the day by the sheer weight of numbers. minorities are being oppressed...the majority will vote in their favor.

the task at hand is simple but daunting - we must convince the majority to embrace basic American values. freedom and equality are meant for all Americans. discrimination against one is discrimination against all. our fathers and forefathers fought and died for these principles. will this generation of Americans finally find the courage to live by them? time will tell...

One of the best ways to counter the religious strategy is to take the fight to them.Many ministers place ads in local dollar savers looking to gain support for anti gay legislation.I recomend a two pronged approach to this.First question the money there using to advertise as political and make sure it isn't tax exempt church money being used.Secondly advertise in the same dollar savers but in rebuttal to the religious ones attack them for trying to make church doctrine law for non church going or different church going Americans.Call them on their intolerance and their positions explain how these views contribute to violence and prejudism against gays.By going to the dollar savers you will reach a group of Americans that the lgbt has never attempted to reach before.These are the blue collar Americans who just need a little nudge to get them to do the right thing.These are the Americans who believe in the constitution and are disgusted with government intrusion and corruption.They believe in being free and are willing to vote for freedom go and get them or regret it later.

Bill, I wholeheartedly agree that Kate has hit the target dead center. Thanks Kate, for spelling it out so succinctly and factually.

"I'm afraid that the culture war is over and Christians have lost"

Wow. I'm blown away by his faith in his God.

Beautiful essay. The November votes, most especially in California, are terribly, terribly important. If we win in California -- and even if simultaneously losing in other states -- the jig is up for Donald Wildmon and his so-called culture war.

A slim margin means DON'T GET COMPLACENT. We can very easily lose.

Preaching to the choir can have its place, but we seriously need to preach to any folks on the fence, or conservatives who could potentially change their hearts. And that means getting out of the gay ghettoes.

I don't know if this is exactly the most important thing out there right now. That doesn't make it unimportant, but just saying that there's nothing on the agenda that's more important right now (as queer people get raped in prison, others with life-threatening diseases get turned away from doctors, queer homeless people can't check into shelters for fear of violence), just sort of solidifies the idea that the only issues that are going to matter are those that appeal to the wealthy gays.

The "Culture War" might be over after CA, but it never really existed in the first place, so I'm kinda just like, yeah, Don? You know? It's like, the whole idea of the "Culture War" was just a construct to get people to vote for conservative economic policy, and that's all it was from the start. Once this advertising program is over, the next one will begin. And, um, will there ever be a time when those other issues, the ones the rest of us are told to wait about, will be front and center?