Over the last week I’ve been continually inspired by the work of some college students in California who dream big. I can’t wait to meet them all in San Francisco on Thursday because it is EXACTLY this kind of energy that the movement for equality needs to support if we’re going to win. One of them, Urvi Nagrani, posted this on her facebook page and gave me permission to share it with you.
I worked on the case against prop 8 in as intense a way as I felt I could – but looking at it now, I didn’t do enough. I made some calls, talked to friends, phone banked a few times, wore a button, posted a yard sign, put a bumper sticker on my backpack, had a few debates, and did all the basics – but I never stood above the crowd. I was just another supporter of a campaign which I hoped would succeed.
But when it failed I felt as if the wind had been knocked out of me and I erupted into tears. It might sound melodramatic, but when prop 8 passed I felt like my identity as a Californian shattered as I realized we weren’t as progressive as I’d like to believe. Sitting on the losing side I for the first time saw myself as a minority. I had always considered my identity as Californian first, and to me that included the idea of a progressive, educated, community oriented citizen. But those two identities no longer melded and suddenly I felt the need to define myself with many more words. After being dragged out of an election party where we’d been celebrating Obama’s victory, I found myself crying in disbelief wondering, “Why?” I blamed myself for not doing enough. I got angry at those around me who couldn’t relate. I became too defensive to listen to the mislead moderates who after talking to I found more understanding than I could have believed that night. I became a reactionary protester who’s only means of expression was dismay. And I don’t want to feel that way again.
So now I’m being proactive. On March 5th I’m going to go to San Francisco not to protest injustice, but to support rectifying the problem. I will stand for equality and civil rights rather than allowing myself to play the role of the victim. And I invite you to join me.
This March we Californians have an opportunity to show the judges we value equality and will support them if they restore it to our laws.
A lot of people say we should wait until 2010 and when we’ll vote again and hopefully win and since 8 is going to be overturned eventually we don’t need to be out there. But if we repeal 8 by that method and this case stands, we’ve still failed because we set legal precedent that it’s okay to remove rights through a simple majority. Which means every election cycle we’ll be playing the same game and spending millions of dollars to determine what rights are to be given. At which point rights aren’t assumed, they’re granted. Rights become privileges and not rights. An idea which offends my idea of what it means to live in a constitutional democratic republic. I like the idea of limits to democracy, and representational government over direct majority rule. And if we say the constitution is a flexible guideline that can be destroyed by a simple majority vote – that enables so many dangerous possibilities.
To quote Benjamin Franklin, “Any society that would give up a little liberty to gain a little security will deserve neither and lose both.” Those who say they’re defending traditional marriage are clinging to the security of tradition, and sacrificing civil liberties to achieve that. I don’t expect by the end of this week that everyone who voted Yes on 8 will magically agree with me, but I want to get enough of them to see the risk of legally not protecting civil liberties. This isn’t an issue of Republican versus Democrat – this is an issue of what it means to respect civil rights and the equality of citizens under the law. I hope you take the time out of your schedule and pause to think of these issues before deciding you can’t skip a class – because this is bigger than just another day and just another rally. This is our last chance to have a voice before setting or breaking a dangerous legal precedent. Furthermore California has always been a somewhat progressive state, and if we digress, what will the non-progressive states look like?
I made it through my educational career without ever cutting class. (I do not count excused absences or being ill as cutting) But I will be absent on Wednesday and Thursday. I can think of no single day in my educational career that was worth more than this case will mean. If you can’t be there, I hope you will still give your active support and help invite people to the event! We need to do something above and beyond what’s been done before – after all we don’t want to ask ourselves on March 5th, “Why didn’t I do more?”
In cities throughout the country people like Urvi have been looking forward at what they are going to do to stand up for their rights. Every day you are all what inspires me and what motivates me to keep moving and do everything in my power to keep this movement alive beyond Prop 8, beyond equal marriage rights and to never ever give up. For that inspiration, and that continuing support, visible courage, and constant joy that serving you brings me- from the depths of my soul- THANK YOU.
And thanks to Perez Hilton for voicing his admiration too!
JUMBOTRON! JUMBOTRON! JUMBOTRON!