Just when the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in California thought they had their heyday, voters pulled the rug out from under them.
Proposition 8, the provisional ballot banning same sex marriage in California, passed 52.3 percent to 47.7 percent on Nov. 4, prompting outrage and disappointment among the gay community.
Even though this measure was specific to California, citizens and groups across the country have expressed their disappointment regarding Prop 8.
Here in Pennsylvania, Temple’s Queer Student Union felt bittersweet about the Election Day results.
President-elect Barack Obama’s victory was exceptionally moving, yet the passing of Prop 8 left members of the student organization feeling despondent.
At a meeting Nov. 13, Deborah Hinchey, president of Pennsylvania College Democrats, spoke to QSU about Prop 8 and similar anti-gay legislation passed in Florida, Arkansas and Arizona.
“As a proud member of the Democratic party, [the passing of anti-gay legislation] is our only downside from Tuesday,” Hinchey said.
She then encouraged the group to attend the Prop 8 rally at City Hall, and that’s exactly what the members of QSU did.
“Even though we are on the complete opposite side of [California], we need to show there is strength throughout the country to repeal what’s been passed, and the idea that we stand together in unity will make it hard for them to not take us seriously,” said Zoe Goldberg, vice president of QSU.
Jake Kaskey, policy outreach coordinator for Equality Advocates in Pennsylvania, an organization that offers legal services for the LGBT community, was pleased with the rally turnout and said his organization plans to channel the invigorating enthusiasm into legislation for gay rights in Pennsylvania.
“Prop 8 has obviously distressed thousands of people, including Pennsylvanians, who stood in unity for our LGBT brothers and sisters in California,” Kaskey said.
He mentioned his organization receives about 600 calls a year for legal help on issues such as apartment eviction and job discrimination.
Kaskey also said 80 percent of LGBT Pennsylvanians live in jurisdictions that have no protection on these issues.
Mobilizing for gay rights legislation, whether it is marriage, property or job equality, in Pennsylvania is important, especially with the beginning of Obama’s presidency.
Major cities nationwide, from New York and Philadelphia to Los Angeles, all held some sort of rally Nov. 15.
This issue has to do with commitment and making sure that commitment is protected and recognized by the government. Christians, Mormons, Republicans and whoever else supported Prop 8 should be encouraging a loving same sex couple to get married, instead of treating them like lepers.
The longer our country denies gay couples the right to marry, the longer future generations will treat homosexuality as something to be ashamed of.
The sooner Prop 8 supporters realize this, the better our country will be. Overturning the ban on gay marriage will not be a victory for the LGBT community. It will demonstrate that “liberty and justice for all” truly exists in the United States.
Joshua Fernandez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.