Sweet. Bitter.

I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who voted NO on Proposition 8, who donated to the campaign, who volunteered their time, who talked to friends and family, who sent e-mails, who reached out to their online social networks, who posted blogs, who left comments on sites across the Internet, and/or who sent good vibes to the people of California. Your efforts are irrefutable evidence that we all have innate qualities of compassion, understanding, and love and that we all can reach across cultural divides to stand up for what's right, even if it doesn't seem to affect us personally.

Proposition 8, which aimed to ban same-sex marriage, has passed. (It would take a miracle the scope of Joseph Smith's golden plates for the remaining uncounted ballots to make a difference.) California, along with Arizona and Florida (which had similar measures on their ballots), now joins the 42 states that already prohibit gay marriage in the U.S.

It's unbelievable to me that so many people in the land of the free have effectively spit on the U.S. Constitution, which makes very clear: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." It breaks my heart to know that an immigrant like my mother, who worked her ass off to earn her U.S. citizenship, can understand and honor the principles of the Constitution far better than people who have had the privilege of being born in America.

Either the supporters of Prop 8 do not believe in the U.S. Constitution—or they simply do not consider gays and lesbians to be equal citizens of the United States. Neither explanation sits well with me. And if those notions don't give pause to even the staunchest opponents of gay marriage, then there is something fundamentally broken about their vision of this country.

But you know what? Despite the fact that I almost titled this post "Fuck You, California," I refuse to despair over this for a number of reasons.

First of all, supporters of Proposition 8 may have logged a victory and dealt a blow to equal rights, but theirs is an empty victory. It's been well-documented that their campaign of TV ads, e-mails, mailings, and direct appeals was built on a foundation of absurd scare tactics, distorted facts, and outright lies. Apparently, for them, the ends justify the shady means, and they do not take ethical implications into consideration, even when their God is watching them. But, deep down, I'm sure they realize that cheating to get to the finish line does not make them winners. And claiming that they are not being discriminatory and homophobic over and over again does not make it so. To them, I say, "Shame on you. Shame. On. You."

What we continue to struggle with is making people—even people within the gay community itself—understand the idea of interconnection. But it's simple, really. Cultures of intolerance—whether overt and ugly or whether hidden behind a "loving-the-sinner-but-hating-the-sin" veneer—communicate to society that treating gays as second-class citizens is acceptable, which leads to things like increases in anti-gay hate crimes. One thing does follow another. Diseases spawn many symptoms. And just because you can wash blood off your hands doesn't mean that the blood was never spilled.

Secondly, let's put things into perspective, lest we become consumed with gloom. In 2000, when the first proposition to propose banning gay marriage (Prop 22) was put to a vote, it passed with 61.4% approval. (It's the ban that was reversed by the California Supreme Court in May and that led to Proposition 8.) Prop 8 received 52.4% approval (as of this writing)—although the measure passed, it was a narrow win, and the 9% drop in supporters of the ban is nothing to scoff at.

Lastly, this battle is far from over. The legality of this proposition will be challenged in court, gay couples who are already married will fight to ensure their marriages remain valid, and I will, in my own life, be mapping out an action plan for next steps—I've always felt that my role in all this is not combating the symptoms of homophobia (there are many people far more courageous than I who are doing that), but working at stamping out homophobic thinking and behavior at its core.

So I'm not going to wallow in defeat here. I'm going to recognize the significant progress that has been made in just eight years time. I'm going to acknowledge all the people—gay and straight, young and old—who took a stand against Proposition 8. I'm going to remember this idea of interconnection and how people's very vocal support of gay rights—of civil rights—will, in myriad ways, contribute to the eventual elimination of anti-gay hate crimes, gay teen suicide, school bullying, discrimination, and homophobia. This is not faulty logic; this is quantifiable truth.

It is my hope that everyone's valiant efforts will have a ripple effect that will carry us forth into a fairer future. "The arc of the moral universe is long," said Martin Luther King Jr., "but it bends toward justice." And because I have been witness to so many people who lent their support to this good cause, I am lifted up by them—lifted up so high that I can see the end of that arc.

Can you?


  1. Hear hear!

  2. Erika (Read's friend @ oberlin)11/05/2008

    This is beautiful. And as sad as it has been to watch the results of prop 8 come in over the last twenty-one hours, change will come and has been coming in a big way. Equality will come. In time, not only my friends from home in Massachusetts will enjoy marriage equality but any loving couple in this country.

  3. This really is beautiful and well said. I hope it gets the attention of your HSM posts.

  4. Erin (also Read's friend at oberlin)11/05/2008

    this is heartbreakingly beautiful and your points are flawlessly presented.
    a civil union is not the same thing as marriage. separate but "equal" does not work, we have seen this before.
    "Either the supporters of Prop 8 do not believe in the U.S. Constitution—or they simply do not consider gays and lesbians to be equal citizens of the United States."
    this is a question I would like to ask a large number of people today. Bravo for saying what we were all thinking. Unfortunately i was not able to cast a vote against the Prop, as i am not from CA, however I was strongly against it and hope that it is overturned as soon as humanly possible.


  5. Blame this one on the religious right, my friend. Paranoia is their goal and fear-mongering is the currency in which they deal.

  6. Lets hope the California Supreme Court fixes this one also.
    I don't think it's time to cede defeat just yet on this subject either. I only wish that Obama had come out in support of gay marriage in his policies (although that might have cost him the election). But with the Democrats in charge (at least for a little while) perhaps we can still see some positive change on a national level regarding gay marriage (or at least civil unions for now).
    On a side note, this is a bittersweet day for America / California. We have our first black President but homosexuals are still discriminated against. I suppose people are slow to learn that hate is hate plain and simple and that it's not right to hate Anyone!

  7. Sterling11/05/2008

    California, hell, we're drinking the bitter dregs here in Florida too and I'm sure they are in Arizona as well. Thank you, Prince, for this insightful piece. We shall overcome, someday.

  8. just beautifully put. you oughta be a writer... oh, wait... ;)

    i wanted to let you know that i voted for the first time in my life yesterday. old dog, new tricks? naw, it was just time i made myself heard.

  9. Rachael Caselli11/05/2008

    Thank you for writing this. It really touched me. I've been so down about Proposition 8, and this post truly is a ray of light.

    Well said, and well done.

  10. ...seriously?

    I mean, maybe I'm too young to understand the functioning of the government. But isn't it incredibly immature - and not to mention stupid - to take something like that back? I mean, to approve of gay marriage for however many years and then to say, "lol, jk, jk."

    And here I thought that America was becoming a little more progressive.

  11. What blows my mind is that Californians care more about the rights of farm animals than the rights of their gay neighbors.

    But you know what Prince, I am rising, and my vision is good.

  12. i'm lifted up, too, prince. thank you for this.

    you know 'sweet bitter' is perfect, and i'm glad you chose it over eat shit california, or whatever it was you had before.

    esp. nice because it's exactly what sappho called eros. we always translate the word from the greek as 'bittersweet' -- but she says love is glukopikron. literally: sweet bitter.

    i think you channeled a bit of 6th century lesbos, my friend. the arc of the moral universe is long. mysteriously long.

    heart salute,

  13. col ceathair11/05/2008

    Thank you Prince.

    I read Xtine's comment on Mr. Mead's blog and it took me here today.

  14. Peter, LAP, Aaron, Sterling, Rachael, and Col, thanks so much for your continued words of encouragement.

    Erika and Erin, thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Give that Read a good hard spank on the ass for me. :)

    Michael #1 and Blau, yes, indeed, the crazies are out there. But it has been said that all darkness is is the absence of light. We just hhave to shine brighter.

    Michael K., yay for you! Your election cherry has been taken away!

    Stephanie, it is a new day...for chickens! Now let's not take that away from them. :)

    Xtine, me? Channeling lesbos? I never woulda thunk it in a million years. (How do I get it to stop? :))

  15. Hey, well done on counting to ten before posting. I can't imagine the frustration of Californians who wanted 'No' on this, it's sad news even for me as an outsider. Your response is measured and optimistic, probably yes voters expect a barage of loony backlash, but you can't play up to their stereotypes!

  16. What an eloquent and optimistic post. Thank you.

  17. I am so sorry that it did not pass. This is just so damn sad.

    "One thing does follow another. Diseases spawn many symptoms. And just because you can wash blood off your hands doesn't mean that the blood was never spilled."

    Damn great line btw.

  18. oh honey, don' chu worry. sappho i think has a good rap with you queerboy wordsmith types. she must have sidled up to plato a lot for him to call her muse #10. plus, she's got aeolian fashion tips!

    blondes: headdress of fresh flowers
    and for those of us with a darker complexion: deep purple ribbons baby. the only way to go.


    go on rockin your fierce optimism and insight,

  19. You're right, we have made it a long way, and though I'm not feeling particularly uplifted right now I know we'll get there. Thanks for the insight.

  20. Narrioch and TCDO, thanks for all your overseas support!

    Annie and TNM, thanks for your kind words,

    Xtine, I will take your word for it. :)