United We Mourn, United We Stand
Today, the California Supreme Court diminished its legacy as a champion of equality. By upholding Prop 8, an initiative that stripped the right to marry from same-sex couples in California, the Court’s decision has undermined the central principle that all people are entitled to equal rights and has jeopardized every minority group in California. No minority group should have to defend its right to equality at the ballot, and the Court should not have permitted such a travesty of justice to stand.
Today’s decision is dramatically out of step with where the nation is heading. After decades of struggle and hard work, we are living through an unmistakable turning point in the history of our movement. In the past few weeks alone, there has been a tidal wave of momentum in favor of equality for same-sex couples—including a unanimous decision upholding marriage equality from the Iowa Supreme Court; legislative victories in Vermont and Maine; and additional victories on the horizon in New Jersey and New York. Across the country, public opinion is shifting decisively in our favor. Five states have now embraced full marriage equality for same-sex couples, and more are expected to join that list this year. It is devastating that California is no longer one of them. But rest assured: we will be again.
As I wade through my many emotions—heartache, disappointment, grief, anger, and disbelief—one thing is clear: we will regain the freedom to marry in California. It is now up to the people of this state to restore California’s national stature and once again embrace inclusion, fairness, and equality for all.
Together, we will be the first state to repeal a marriage ban at the ballot.
Over the past few months, I have participated in town halls across the state. In every community, I have been moved and encouraged by the resilience and strength of our community and our allies. I have been reminded that we have weathered far worse storms. We fought back against the criminalization of our relationships and violence at the hands of government officials and police, and we must remember that this year marks the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. We fought back against efforts to strip us of custody of our children. We fought back against medical authorities when they pathologized our love. And we continue to fight against an epidemic that still claims the lives of far too many. By being our authentic selves, by demanding change and full equality, we have changed the law and transformed public opinion. And we have built one of the strongest movements for human freedom and equality of our time.
We must now use that strength to reverse Prop 8 at the ballot. As we band together to realize that goal, the more than 18,000 married same-sex couples must be our ambassadors. They must help others regain the equality that now only some of us enjoy. We must also call on fair-minded Californians to stand with us, come to know our families, and undo the damage caused by Prop 8. Let’s harness the remarkable grassroots energy and activism that sprung to life after Prop 8 passed and reclaim our state’s rightful place as a civil rights leader. We are unified. We are ready. We are resilient. We will stand together with our allies and we will be victorious.
This is not over.
P.S. Listen to me this Thursday on KALW’s “Out in the Bay” live at 7:00 pm to discuss the ruling in depth.
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