Guest Blogger

The queers are upset that I'm not an upset queer

Filed By Guest Blogger | November 11, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: ballot initiatives, California, gay marriage, gay rights, LGBT, marriage equality, movement, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage, Texas, transgender

Editors' note: Ryan Miller, a native Texan, attends the Harvard Graduate School of Education where he is studying Higher Education Administration as a Point Foundation scholar. He completed a bachelor's degree with honors in journalism as a Point Foundation scholar at the University of Texas at Austin. After graduation, he worked for UT's vice president for diversity and community engagement and co-taught intergroup dialogue courses.

Ryan Miller.jpgTo be clear: I acknowledge, appreciate, and respect the work of everyone who worked against the anti-marriage ballot initiatives that passed on Tuesday. You were on the side of justice and I understand the disappointment because I feel it, too.

But Wednesday and Thursday were generally happy days for me after the election. Not so among some of my (white) gay and lesbian peers. Many I encountered seem to be in a depressing haze following the passage of Proposition 8 in California that banned marriage for same-sex couples.

Why was I not so upset?

Maybe it's cynicism. Or because I'm not in a long-term relationship. Maybe it's that I remember clearly a few years ago when one of these bans passed overwhelmingly in Texas and few others in the country really cared. I know, I know -- it had actually had a chance of being defeated in California. But our country doesn't have a stellar track record of defeating these bans.

Perhaps it's because the image of white people walking around depressed after the first person of color was elected to the presidency is a little jarring. That we can so cavalierly dismiss such an important and emotional moment as unimportant or not good enough.

Maybe it was the racist, divisive pronouncements that "Gay is the new Black," or the suggestion that racism has somehow ended. I resented being told I drank the Obama Kool-aid and I was being fooled that he would be a kind president toward LGBT people. I was disgusted at the not-so-subtle assertion that African-Americans in California tipped the amendment toward passing (never mind that they are a minority of voters, and whites were in fact the majority).
I witnessed an attitude that said in not so many words that Black people have now had their day, and what about the gays? So where does that leave gay Black folks who don't have the luxury to neatly foreground one identity while forgetting another?

And speaking of racism being over, I didn't hear any immense sorrow that bans on affirmative action passed in two states. Why was that not a part of the upset?

Maybe I'm just looking out for my own mental health after eight years of a vitriolic and hateful president, and facing disappointments in my own advocacy as well. I need a few days to just be happy.

Here's the one I'm really not supposed to say -- that Obama's election was more important than any gay marriage ban. I know, I know -- we could have had both, and they're not mutually exclusive. But we're in two wars, and then there's the economy, among many other incredibly pressing issues. It's a good thing "gay issues" weren't front and center in this election, because frankly, they're just a distraction employed by the right. Even if Obama does nothing for four or eight years on LGBT issues (which I don't think will be the case), he's done a better job than any of his predecessors. If anything will be Obama's undoing, it's the unrealistically high expectations.

Perhaps it's because I hope -- but doubt -- that my community will come to its senses and say, hey, maybe marriage isn't a winning issue. To be sure, I don't think for a minute gay folks decided to put forward any of these losing ballot initiatives in the last decade. But -- crucially -- I believe that we generally allowed marriage to become The Gay Issue, the last step toward full equality for "us."

As long as "us" does not include transgender people, immigrants, single gay people, promiscuous queers, genderqueers, low-income people, and the list goes on. And straight people who aren't excited about marriage, too.

As long as "us" does not include people without health insurance, relative financial security, and any number of other issues that should never depend on being married or partnered.

We can advocate for multiple issues. So feel free to advocate marriage. Personally, I'm more concerned with basic individual rights that are not secure. Every time I hear the reasons that marriage is and should be the most important battle, I only hear about rights that should be granted to every individual, regardless of marital status. In my dream, we'd all get those rights.
Want to be able to inherit and pass on property and belongings to those you love? I think we probably all deserve the right to designate these things (should we be lucky enough to have property and belongings) to those of our choosing.

Want to make sure your loved one can be in the hospital room with you? I think we should all get to decide who can make these important decisions for us, whether I want my neighbor, co-worker, or best friend to do so.

Want your partner's health insurance coverage? I say each one of us, married, single, and otherwise, deserve health insurance that is not dependent upon our wealth or whether we have jobs. Health insurance that's not dependent on anything at all.

Want the tax breaks and perks married folks get? I think things should be a little more equitable -- that single people are not inherently inferior to couples. (It's bad enough I have to buy giant "family sized" portions of nearly everything at the grocery store that I don't need.) We don't live in an agrarian economy anymore and don't need to sure couples are together to have and raise children. So I'd get rid of those perks. If you ask me, the state has no business privileging marriage or partnerships over any other arrangement.

Marriage and partnerships don't work for everyone. Actually, the numbers bear out that they don't work for most people in this country. Most people are not married -- they're single and happy, or partnered but unmarried, or living in threesome bliss, or living with a bunch of a friends. And that's just fine with me.

I fantasize that when these ugly initiatives come up, we could band together and say that we aren't going to play that game. We're not going to allow homophobes to set the agenda anymore. That the rights of a minority should not be up for a vote of the people. That we are not going to waste a single moment or dollar fighting a ridiculous marriage ban. I know that's pie-in-the-sky, and these are hard to ignore in practice. But oh do I fantasize.

If I can still be fired in most states in this country, I'd love to look at that. If queer people, and queer people of color and trans people disproportionately, are targeted for violence and criminalized for being who they are, let's work on that. If people cannot enter this country legally, let's think about that. As HIV and AIDS still ravages our communities, let's not pretend it's a thing of the past. Let's also not forget that if we don't make space for environmentalism with a quickness, all of these will be moot points. Ideally, we'd do all of this at once to some degree, and we'll probably all continue to specialize in one or two of these issues -- but I feel strongly as though marriage has had a chokehold on so much space in our world, in terms of gay money, attention spans, and so much else.

Maybe I'm mad at myself and my communities for making empty gestures for all of us to come together without really backing that up. I still have hope for doing this work so that next time maybe we won't be so divided. But today, I feel quite a bit apart from those who are supposed to be my people.

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OK...I'm officially blue in the face, but I'll take another stab at addressing this issue.

Categorizing our citizenship - our constitutional rights that ought be applicable to all Americans - in terms of having the ability to marry is deceptive and counter productive.

I am extremely frustrated by the common acceptance by LGBTs and our allies (see the recent Keith Olbermann special comment) that Prop 8 and all the amendments that accompany and precede it are merely gestures intended to deny us a seat at the head table in an elaborate hetero wedding.

You have serious reservations about the institution of marriage? Fine! Good! Who doesn't? Cynicism in this day and age is healthy and important.

Why then do you have difficulty considering this struggle - the battle for our rights and our claim for full citizenship - in terms of preserving our constitutional integrity instead of always repeating ideological mantras about the evils of matrimony?

Repetition of the traditional marriage crap only serves to advance the argument that LGBTs must be marginalized. Even if you aren't supporting marginalization you keep the dialog on the topic of matrimony and not where it belongs.

Until this "us" you refer to stops allowing the conversation to be about marriage and instead draws attention to the real matter - the shredding of the constitution in order to legitimize the marginalization of all LGBTs - we will never have any grounds to demand a real ENDA.

How can we say that we are wiling to compromise our constitutional citizenship if "they" extend us workplace non-discrimination protections? This isn't a bargain. It is nonsense.

As we are redacted out of constitutions year after year - not because we ask for it, lets not blame the victim - we lose our position to demand more.

You may have a distaste for marriage, but whether you like it or not (and whether the day comes that you need it or not) this is what is on our plate right now, and it has been on the menu for nearly 20 years (in this recent round anyway).

Every victory on their part matched by complicit silence on ours furthers their agenda and keeps us from achieving what is rightly ours - our full and unadulterated citizenship.

Ha, the Point Foundation must be shining with pride with what they've produced in you.

Really, a self-absorbed queer accusing others of being short-sighted; that's new!

I really look forward to the day where you decide to have a family (my condolences to them), and these words come back to haunt you.

I really look forward to the day where you decide to have a family (my condolences to them)

Hahaha, oh jesus, I lol'd so hard at the bitchiness of this.

Anyway, good post.

Do you REALLY think our government will give a flying F*** about a-n-y rights we may need OUTSIDE of the home when they do not respect the INSIDE of our homes? Our FAMILY?

And many younger gays are totally oblivious - they can barely see beyond the age of 30 to have a clue about estate-planning, a need for divorce after 20 years, or being widowed and then denied a partner's pension after 30 years. And they are CLUELESS to the variety of HORROR STORIES that happen every minute when one or more of those 1,138 rights are not in place, like homelessness, mental illness and PTSD, suicide, welfare, loss of property, loss of jobs, loss of hope.

Honestly? F*** everyone at this point. I do not owe YOU or your "government" or the IRS a penny until equal. Go ahead and pay taxes for SUB-citizenship; SUB-American. I've had it, and my words and tax dollars are th eonlt things I can control. THEY ARE ALL I HAVE LEFT.

I wasn't for Prop 8. (I'm not even against marriage, as is usually assumed.) And neither were any of my "oblivious younger gay" friends. In fact, had this election been decided by these ignorant young people, my hunch is that things would have come out differently.

As for the 1138 rights - most of all these are ones we all should have. I don't believe married people, gay, straight or whatever, are more entitled to these rights than anyone else.

The stench of the libertarian meme. When you can get the rights covered by marriage extended to everyone within a reasonable time period, call us. Until then, spare us the "There are greater concerns, such as covering single people like me; because, god knows, if something doesn't affect my current situation directly, it must be some whim for empty, symbolic affirmation".

Ryan, I am certain YOUR friends are not the "oblivious younger gay" crowd; writing here seems to suggest that...and I never called any young person ignorant. :-)

But there are a ridiculous number of younger gays who, like their heterosexual counterparts, simply do not look beyond the next 5-10 years. Yes, there are older ones also. It gets down to the sad fact that we have NO COMMUNITY WHATSOEVER; we are as diverse as a "minority" could ever be!

Agreed about rights; we all should have them.

Honestly I am very offended by your above comments.

"Younger gays are totally oblivious - they can barely see beyond the age of 30..."

Young LGBTQ individuals are far from oblivious when it comes to the inequalities and discrimination that members of our community face. It's young people who go to school and deal with homophobia and transphobia in the classroom. Over 15 states lack any sort of legislation that requires schools to protect students from LGBT specific bullying.

Young LGBTQ individuals are being kicked to the streets as high school and college students with no support from their families. They then face the high cost of tuition, living expenses, etc completely on their own.

Paying for all of those things as a young person can be very hard, especially when it's still legal to fire someone for being LGBT in over 30 states. Imagine your first job out of college and your fear that you'll lose it for simply being LGBTQ.

You say young people can't see beyond 30 to the issues of marriage and domestic partner benefits. I'm sure after careful consideration you'd understand that they're likely having a hard time seeing past high school or college with all the obstacles they face as young people.

I'm really offended with our community for placing marriage with such importance with no regards to other important issues like equal rights in employment and housing for LGBT persons, school bullying protection for LGBTQ youth, the high cost of higher education for young people, the alarming rate of HIV infection in young people and people of color and the list goes on and on.

Do you notice how classist, racist, ageist, sexist, and discriminatory this makes our community appear? The comments here that you’ve made are far to harsh for a young person who just shared their thoughts about an issue that wasn’t important to them. Please think about someone other than yourself before making these attacks.

I do apologize since I was screaming more to the entire LGBTIQ Civil Rights Movement than just to Ryan....or you. I do appreciate anyone's contributions that are made with open hearts, as his certainly was. But people have VERY DIFFERENT perspectives at age 20-30 than they do at age 40-80+, and unfortunately most humans...including myself....WERE oblivious to many of the issues older Americans face. I apologize if I assigned my own narrative to your life and experiences; I get that A LOT myself lately!

But I cannot help you understand my words; I said "many younger gays.....ridiculous number of younger gays....there are older ones also".

NEVER "all young gays". Step back a little. I agree with you that we need to "think about someone other than ourself before making attacks". For the record, I thought I was just sharing ideas, not attacking.

But here's MY reality at age 43 about marriage inequality and my experiences to date - NOV 12th. After a life-threatening "divorce without legal protection" on JULY 1st, 2004, I went from being a very successful music educator to homeless within 2 years, after a bankruptcy, complete loss of my ability to work in 2 of 3 areas of expertise, serious PTSD (this phrase is thrown around too lightly) which affected or ruined every attempt at work, and a suicide attempt in April 2006 when I was broke, homeless, destitute, unable to work or support myself in any way, and lost a really good reason to live.

Now it's 2008, and I have been experiencing horrific re-triggering of my PTSD, which as far as stages the of "Grief" go, I guess I am in the ANGER stage. After expressing some of this anger to my social worker (oh yeah, I'm back on welfare again due to PTSD), she sent 2 policemen to my house to make sure I wasn't going to kill someone. I guess I must have sounded pretty mad on the phone when she inquired about my income...income that will remain tax free until equal. After teaching 24 young children for months and a return to full-time work and financial stability, things like my upcoming SS disability hearing and PROP 8 have made me....well....snap. As of now these 24 children are without their teacher, just as 17 children in 2004 lost their teacher. That affects my soul in ways I cannot articulate. It's very strange when one is both cognizant of what's going on yet unable to control things at all times. Yeah....good times.

So now I may need to admit myself to a hospital this week, and they will try to medicate my justified anger, but they will not be able to medicate the society I live in that allowed a VOTE on our family's civil rights.

I "think" I have lost my mind. Or is this what happens to a sane person when he or she is surrounded by complete legal insanity?

Judge? Jury? Anyone?

This will probably be my last post at Bilerico for a while. I am no longer going to be tolerant of being treated as less, and I cannot yet move beyond the bringing of my enemy here to post something that from anyone else would have been uplifting.

For longer than a year, but *especially the last year, the Transfolk have said time and again that employment protections for us are *more important* than marriage.

I just spent four years campaigning on behalf of Queer kith's right to marriage, an average of 4 hours each day.

I did this, and half way through it, I was run over by a bus.

I got up, and I was already shaken in my willingness to be part of the gay rights movement.

Despite the Empty gestures on the parts of many. I have done as I was asked to do, and I do it very well.

I am limited by what those I educate do with that information, and, for the most part, they seem to do nothing with it.

I am not longer LGBT. I am just Queer. And I set as my priority something other than marriage.

Because without all the rest, marriage has little purpose.

And yet, there are ways I would engage that fight once more.

That will be when I see that initiative to remove the word "marriage" from law.

That will be when there are so many queer people running for office that people talk about it fr months. Not one or two or ten -- hundreds of them. ALl finally willing to get off their ass and do what has to be done if they really want all these things we speak of.

Run for office. Politicians live in a bubble. The only way they will ever have of seeing what we Queer people live through is if we live beside them.

That will be when I see places that call themselves a home of mine apologize for bringing my enemy, despite that enemy stabbing US three times in 15 years.

Any other group and that would *never* be allowed.

That will be when people realize that Queer is what we are, that our old "alliance" of letters is part of what's holding us back, based on the very things they can use to take us apart.

Queer is a word we *took* from them. Just as Gay is a word we took from them. They no longer have that word, and when they holler it at us we can grin and say *yes, we are* and take that power from them.

Queer means to be different. To be odd. To be outside the norm.

Gay means to be happy and content in who and what you are and to express it.

We've forgotten why those words are so important.

I'd rather be odd and different than like them. And if I let being called queer hurt me, then it means that I am *scared* and *shamed* of being different.

That's not Pride. I don't care how painful it was, it is our word now.

And they no longer have it. They can no longer use it to harm us. They no longer have Gay, either. There are no other words in the language like those two.

They are old words, words with great power. And we need to remind them of that.

You cannot separate Queer. There is no alliance in it, and you do not need to be straight or not, cis or not, gay or not, defined or not.

You are Queer. No allies. No motley collections of rejects identified by their very names of "homosexual" and "bisexual" and "transsexual" (and make no mistake, that is why they drive those words time and time again, our enemies are not stupid).

This is a war of Culture, and it doesn't matter if you wanted in it or not. You are.

IN a war of culture, you have to have one.

So, in closing, Mr. Miller, know that while I am most certainly angry, I see much truth to your points.

And I can get married.

*Almost* anywhere. And will, in fact, be doing so.

I could have married anywhere -- not too long ago that was the way it was for me.

I lost that right in some places because of the fight for marriage.

And yet, there I was, doing my best...

Wolfgang E. B. Wolfgang E. B. | November 11, 2008 5:00 PM

Ryan, I agree with much of what you're saying. I'm trans, and single, and not interested in the married lifestyle. And yes, marriage should not confer any special treatment on anyone.

But I see the battle for marriage as a battle for something symbolic of LGBT rights. We all would do well to keep in mind that to our opponents, we're all gay. They make little or no distinction between our various groups and subgroups under the queer umbrella. A win for any one sex or gender non-conforming group is a win for all of us.

Also, since the marriage battle has already been placed on the table, what would happen if we abandoned it? Would we appear to be backing down? Would it embolden our enemies? I hate to sound like an Iraq war apologist, but conceding anything to the religious right could have negative consequences.

I agree that is (or maybe could be) more symbolic of much more - though for those out there who see marriage as the last remaining barrier our communities have, I'm not sure there's really any incentive for them to go back and think of others once that right is won. Refusing to fight these initiatives is not necessarily a realistic proposition (more of a fantasy on my part that we could get to a place where we don't allow others to set the agenda of our community); but I think we can fight them on the one hand and recognize that lack of marriage is not the only impediment queer people face.

Hi Ryan,

Congratulations on your post. Your recent comment: "...though for those out there who see marriage as the last remaining barrier our communities have, I'm not sure there's really any incentive for them to go back and think of others once that right is won." is spot on! It's odd how we cleave to this idea of a "trickle-down" activism.

I wrote in the same vein recently, in a bilerico post titled "Let's change the Paradigms of Gay Organising," and you can read it here.

Besides that plug, I'm writing to ask if you know my dear friend Ali A., also a fellow Point scholar.


Anthony in Nashville | November 11, 2008 5:11 PM

I had to read the article several times, but I agree with what the author is saying in terms of there being causes that would benefit a larger number of gay folks than marriage.

I've often felt bewildered at the speed with which marriage because the number one focus for LGBT organizations. But those with money set the agenda, and that is obviously what the major gay benefactors wanted.

Like other people have stated, in many ways it's now beyond our control since marriage is a symbolic expression for how you feel about LGBTs in general. So whether you feel it's "the right issue" or not, you have to take sides.

Ryan, it is natural that you wouldn't prioritize the marriage issue. So by all means, fight hardest for what you believe is needed most. The folks who feel like marriage is it should do the same. There are plenty of us and plenty of angles to tackle. The more enthused we are about the issue we are fighting for, the better work we'll do.

My biggest problem with the current state of the struggle is how disorganized we seem and the useless blaming. And speaking of blame, why should we criticize others for caring about and working for positive change that we aren't interested in at the moment? Bless them for going for it. And they should bless us for whatever we have the energy to work on.

It could be that we are just a complex group and our battle will look complex as well. But even if our struggle is actually a bunch of pieced together struggles, I still think we could learn something from the focus and strategies of the Obama campaign. Maybe we could hire Ax and Plouffe to give us some pointers.

When we get the marriage rights it will influence getting the other rights you mention. Monica Helms, Bill Perdue and Alex Blaze chewed my ass out real good for not paying attention to all the ills in LGBT society, poverty, AIDS, blah blah balh, but we have to start somewhere. I am glad to see the LGBT community galvanized and angry over this.

Never mind the cause (fill in your favorite). It is about being granted rights after a long struggle, and then having them taken away because of ignorance and injustice.

I happen to agree with Ryan. At this point, the economy, Iraq war, keeping abreast of potential trouble so that we don't wear down the troops further by opening new fronts - these are things that affect all of us, including LGBTs. Obama needs to get started on those before he does much for LGBT rights. It's politically wise, and frankly, an unstable economy is a great breeding ground of pseudo-fascist types likely to indulge in anti-gay violence.

Yes, it's bad that Prop 8 and the others were passed - but at this point I view the upcoming likely Supreme Court retirements and subsequent appointments as more important for LGBT rights - and having Obama as president makes it likely that existing LGBT rights will not be dismantled relatively quickly (within 5 to 10 years), as it would have been if there were two or three Scalia-like appointments made by McCain. Obama will appoint justices receptive to at least some "broad civil rights" issues - privacy rights underpinning both the contraception/abortion and the sodomy issues seems to be assured.

The losses on marriage in CA and AZ, marriage plus in FL, and adoption/fostering in AR were a huge setback for all queers in this country - but least of all the Californians. Already the results are being trumpeted by the theofascist groups as a total rejection of the 'gay agenda.' As ridiculous as this may be, it is re-energizing the most repressive organizations and gaining traction in a large part of the population. This is going to make it much more difficult to advance queer-friendly legislation in statehouses across the country and could very conceivbly result in the rollback of hard-won rights in some states.

We really need to stop telling ourselves that we are in the same gay community. I see less and less evidence of that. Or maybe we need to start proving that we are of the same gay community. Now i am completely confused.

The "selfishness" charge that Ryan is receiving is just dumb.

I mean, you're asking him not to organize his politics around his experiences. Fine. People should get out of their bubble and figure out what other people experience.

But saying that anyone who has priorities that are different than yours is selfish doesn't make much sense. Couldn't Ryan just come back and say that you all are selfish for not prioritizing what he thinks is important?

Then, wouldn't the least selfish thing for the LGBT movement to do be organize around something like ending mountain top removal? I mean, then we'd be caring about something that has nothing to do with our collective identity.

I think your view is shaped by the fact that you're young and not in long-term relationship. For older couples, marriage equality is extremely important. Healthcare and financial issues that didn't matter when we were younger are now taking front stage, especially in economically challenging times.

Also, it's difficult not to take things personally, when I would walk around my Orlando, Florida neighborhood and see "Yes on Amendment 2" and "Vote the Bible" lawn signs. Homophobia does take a psychic toll on us. After all, we are only human.

It's fascinating (but not surprising) to me that some of my ideas are critiqued not at face value, but on the basis of my (perceived) age, as Chad touched upon. Or they're critiqued at face value, which is fine, and then my age is brought up as a rationale or another piece of evidence. (I say it's not surprising because I face this every day at work and in graduate school, and have in the past as well.)
Young people are subject to a whole host of stereotypes, misinformation and discrimination that often get played out when we make an argument, especially one that is unpopular. While this occurs in the broader context of society, it's especially frustrating and saddening to me that it's reproduced in what is supposed to be my community. We're a marginalized community, and here we go again marginalizing our own.
I struggled with including a photo or the fact that I'm in graduate school for these very reasons - but I shouldn't have to think about whether I can say that or have to hide the pieces of who I am to have a rational discussion. Isn't that something we can all draw on some level of personal experience to relate to?
I made the assertion that marriage has taken quite a bit of "space" psychologically and otherwise in our community. Judging by the reaction here, I probably wouldn't revise that assertion but it's become even more clear to me that this is viewed as correct, obligatory and even so basic to our organizing that suggestions there are other issues may be perceived as a threat.
There are other assumptions that have been projected onto me but I don't want to even address the personal claims made about me (by people I don't even know) because I think it's all a distraction from the issue.
I return to the basic premise that I think we can dream big, and we don't need to limit ourselves - for example, healthcare is obviously a huge issue. If you want your spouse to have your healthcare, I support that - and in fact I think we all deserve it, regardless of whether we have a job or relationship. And that's somehow cast as selfish or too idealistic (even when there's broad-based support for universal healthcare and possibly the political will do it nationwide). I'd love to move to a "both/and" paradigm - but even in advocating for a "both/and" approach, I feel as though it's seen as taking something away, or as becoming "either/or." These conversations are difficult for me because regardless of what I say, the assumptions that I am against couples and their happiness/well-being and the rest immediately cloud everything else. When what I'm trying to get to is, YES, I care about couples, AND there happen to be a lot of other people I care about, too.
At the end of the day I think these amendment are losing propositions, no matter who "wins" - that sometimes it's not about the answer to a question if the question asked in the first place is out of line. And then the issue consumes us - and who falls by the wayside?

Although I was elated for that brief moment on election night when Obama was declared the winner, I was more concerned about the results of Prop 8.

Why? Because even though *I* am not in a long term relationship, and even though *I* do not intend to get married, I am totally against TAKING THE RIGHTS AWAY from those who had it.

Remember, the difference here is that in May 2008, the California State Supreme Court ruled that Prop 22 (passed 8 years ago in California) was unconstitutional. Therefore, for 5 glorious months, we gay people in California enjoyed the same right to marry as straight people. In fact, I have gay friends who got married during those 5 months, and now the status of their marriage is hanging in the balance.

Prop 8 was not just a simple vote to ban gay marriage. It was a vote to take rights away that had already been determined to be valid and constitutional. And that's just UNFAIR AND WRONG. This is not just a "big gay issue." It's a civil rights issue.

That's why, when I heard that we were losing the fight in October, for the first time in my life I adopted a political cause - I donated to the No On 8 campaign, volunteered for the phone banks, put yard signs in my yard, and talked to my straight family and coworkers.

And that's why, for the first time in my life, I felt sick to my stomach when the election results came in.

Ryan, perhaps you don't get it because you live in Texas. In California, we're used to more tolerance and acceptance. So, it hurts a lot more when voters buy the arguments from religious groups and vote to take away our rights.

I thought that California was going to be the country's leader on this issue, as we are for a lot of issues (including banning smoking in public places and many environmental concerns). I am disappointed that 52% of the California voters let me down.

Why is it that our neighbor, Canada, permits gay marriage, but in the United States - the country that champions "freedom" - we allow religious zealots to change our constitution to discriminate against a minority??

There are practical matters of survivorship and health care and burial rights and so on that are very important for LGBT couples reaching retirement age or facing one partner's illness and death (see "Freeheld", the documentary about a NJ policewoman with cancer fighting to have her pension granted to her long-time partner, who would otherwise have lost their home).

No-one else will fight for us. Of course we have to continue pressing for inclusive ENDA and hate crimes laws, rights of adoption and of marriage/civil union, unique transgender concerns, and so on. We will get much farther with these in a stable economy and non-panicky approach to dealing with terraists, than with a generally fearful populace looking for a scapegoat. Stabilization should get underway before any broad public pressure is brought to bear for ENDA etc.

Obama needs a few successes in the White House before making any public support for LGBT rights. Meanwhile, LGBT lobbies need to get into behind-the-scenes discussions with the White House for an LGBT issues staffer and with the DNC for their LGBT liason efforts, which have been in chaos.