Tomorrow will be a week since the voters of California took the unprecedented step of removing rights from a group of people. The history of the state -- indeed, of the country -- has been one of extending rights, not limiting them. A week, and I still feel as crushed and deflated as I did when I saw the first returns and knew that what my gut had been telling me was right -- we are still too hated and misunderstood to be treated equally.
I read the blogs, I read the comments sections of news articles. I feel the anger, the hurt, the disappointment. I don't know what to do with it. How could all those millions of Californians have justified to themselves that it's OK to discriminate? To treat one group of people different from another?
And it's not just strangers. Our family has been friends with another family (mostly the parents) for more than 30 years. This lovely (or so I thought) couple have known me for more than three decades. They attend many of our family functions, including my mom's recent 90th birthday party. They have met my husband, greeted him warmly, laughed at the many funny things he says. Yet, I discovered (a few days before the election) that they had voted "yes" on 8 via their absentee ballot. These are not stupid, uninformed people. The husband owned a good-sized ad agency in San Francisco. But they helped to vote away my rights. I can't imagine what I might say to them should I ever see them on the street. (They live just a few miles from us.) It's certain I will never see them at another family event, because if anyone in my family had the audacity to invite them, they can't expect to enjoy my presence, as well.
So where do I go? We gay people are a tiny minority in this country. We have some political power, but apparently not enough. I have confidence that in 20 years, we will have full legal equality, but it seems clear that we will never be fully accepted. Or even truly tolerated. The "ick" factor will always be too much for most people.
I'm not ready to stop fighting for equality, but I'm not sure what strategy to employ. The only weapon I have at my disposal is logic and reason. And that hasn't worked. Our adversaries don't care about logic, apparently. Their fear is clearly too great to be overcome by logic. It's like a former friend of my husband's who -- when we were visiting Lake Tahoe together -- was afraid of a thunderstorm because he worried lightning would strike our 20+-story hotel and cause it to collapse. It was a base, irrational fear. But it was his fear, and nothing I said could make his heart beat any less quickly.
Far too many Californians are like that frightened little man -- and nothing I say can relieve their anxiety.
To all of you who have read this far, thanks for letting me vent on you.