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Civil rights win warrants celebration

Submitted by Geoffrey Bara on February 17, 2012 – 4:09 pmNo Comment

Illustration by Annie Oh

In an almost stunning victory for those fighting for civil rights, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its decision Feb. 7, repealing Proposition 8 and allowing California to soon join the (slowly) growing ranks of states that allow same-sex couples marry: Connecticut, New Hampshire, Iowa, Massachusetts, New York and Vermont.  The District of Columbia also permits same-sex marriage.  For now, however, marriage licenses in California remain unobtainable while opponents of the decision have time to appeal.

I want to be ecstatic; I want to turn cartwheels yelling “finally!!” at the top of my lungs and throw glitter at people.  The thing is the gay community has been here before.  When gay marriages began in California after it was pointed out that there was nothing in the state constitution prohibiting the practice, we danced this same dance in West Hollywood.  We called ex-boyfriends and made jokes about finally tying the knot, we cried and hugged friends who had been waiting so long to have their union validated by the state.  We were all so happy.

It didn’t take long, though, for a horrifying, slanderous ad campaign largely funded by out-of-state special interest groups (such as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) to convince a majority of California voters that the best thing to do would be to amend the state constitution to define marriage as specifically between a man and a woman.  This decision in itself is remarkable because never in the history of our nation has a constitution been amended to deny rather than guarantee rights to a minority.

Proposition 8 was worded very awkwardly, I believe in an attempt to confuse Californians to vote in favor of the ban.  Well-read voters knew that voting “yes” on Proposition 8 meant “no” to gay marriage, but I know from experience that a considerable number of people thought “yes” meant “yes,” and voted accordingly, which I am sure contributed to the slim margin that captured the 52 percent win for Proposition 8.

This momentous decision raises a question — what now?  Same-sex couples continue to be without the right to marry, and will probably remain so, until the issue comes before the federal Supreme Court.  It’s possible that this victory is short-lived.  It’s possible that the ostrich that is California will stuff its head right back into the sand, after yet another peep at the bright, beautiful future that is just barely beyond our grasp.  I don’t really care about that, though.

Obviously I want same-sex marriage, and I do care that it’s being denied the people who desire it.  I simply refuse to be disheartened by the dialogue that is going to be occurring until the case’s arrival at the Supreme Court.  I’m not going to be disappointed until there’s something to be disappointed about.  Some of my friends say the opposite: they won’t celebrate until they’re sure.  Sure that this time we won’t have our dreams crushed, won’t have to sheepishly roll up banners and stuff confetti into drawers, waiting for the world to wake up and smell the coffee.

I’m not worried about looking stupid, though.  Premature jubilation is not something I am afraid of.  Joy is so precious, and so rare in this life.  But people are dancing in the streets now.  There’s laughter, love and hope. And it’s all waiting for anyone who cares to join.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  It’s this lack of certainty that insists you snatch whatever joy you can now, before it’s too late; in case it should become too late.  I don’t care if tomorrow finds us all weeping.  I will have joy today.

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