This post will probably piss some people off, but I am sort of known for that, so here goes.
I am saddled with the feeling that the loss in California is being over-hyped by our side. I am also bothered by a nagging feeling that people have forgotten that many other states have gone through the same thing already.
While I understand that rights were taken away in this case, and that is a significant difference, I am not feeling the emotion of anger or sadness that many on this blog and many others are expressing.
Let me explain.
Yes, rights previously acknowledged by the California Supreme Court were taken away, and this is the first time that has ever happened.
That part of the Prop 8 is disturbing and very worrisome.
However, these are not rights that have been long established in the psyche of the voters. Many of them, in fact, did not buy the argument that rights were being taken away because they didn't believe that they existed in the first place.
Furthermore, from a strictly practical standpoint, no one in California is any worse off than they were in May. All of the couples who were married in the interim are still married. All those who were not, are not.
The "harm" that has been done is simply internal and emotional. I understand that need and that reaction. I understand it because I have lived it. Ohio, where I live, went through this same struggle four years ago, as have many other states along the way. I understand the grieving process that people will need to go through and I empathize with people living in California who are in that process. I believe as well that the length and depth of grief will be amplified because our expectations were that we could win. Emotional reactions to situations occur when our expectations of the situation are not met. I think this emotion is driving far more of the statements being made recently than is the factual and concrete evidence of harm.
My fear, however, is that we will look backwards only and not forward. I am saddened by the finger pointing and name calling that has begun already. I understand that one of the stages of grief is to try to figure out how this could have happened, and it is human tendency to blame the easiest cause we can find. So, it is natural that the first reaction is to blame the closest thing, group, or people we can find.
Therein lays my fear.
Our loss in California is our loss. Our loss in Ohio was our loss. Our losses in Arkansas and Florida and Arizona were our loss. We lost.
It is a difference in vision. Were we victims of others, or do we determine our own destiny.
I refuse to be a victim any longer, and I will own my communities defeats. I am partly responsible for this loss, and the others.
I do so, because the flip side of the coin is what keeps me motivated.
I will not be "given" rights by some other benevolent entity. I will win them. I will claim partial responsibility when I help win them, and the pride of that achievement will carry me forward to the next struggle.
Is the high support for Prop 8 among African Americans their fault? No, it is ours. We did not do enough to win those votes and be present in that community to earn their respect and understanding.
Is the high support from the Mormon Church to blame? No, we knew that this would be an expensive campaign, and the campaign actually raised more money than our opposition. It is our fault that we have not yet reached a point where our narrative outweighs theirs.
What Prop 8, and the approval of it by voters shows me is simply that we are not as far along the road to full equality as we thought we were.
This loss hurts, for sure. Coupled with the other losses, it definitely put a sting into what should have been a great night. A night that saw the election of a man who included the words "gay and lesbian" in his acceptance speech. A night that saw the author of the Federal Marriage Amendment sent packing. A night that saw sweeping change and one of the largest steps forward in the civil rights struggle ushered in. This should have been a night to celebrate on all fronts, and unfortunately it wasn't.
The sky has not fallen, however, and we must remember that.
We must learn from what we have not yet accomplished and figure out how we accomplish it another way. We must stop, step back for a moment, and do a deep analysis on now we progress from here. The responsibility for our civil rights lie with none other than ourselves, and if we don't look in the mirror instead of point a finger, we will continue to repeat the cycle.