Wednesday, November 5, 2008

We lost a battle, we won some battles and the struggle continues.

52% yes, 48% no. A week ago I was on an evening news show with a fundamentalist minister who stated that they (the "yes" side) were leading by 9 points. He made this erroneous claim in answer to an observation which I made on that program. I had cited that in 2000 the proposition then, to limit marriage only to heterosexual persons, won by 61% and that this time the percentages were far closer almost 50/50.

In the past eight years, the population of California has moved from opposing same sex marriages, from 61% to 52%. And that, with the "yes on 8" side spending the lion's share of seventy three million ($73,000,000.00) dollars. Much of this came from donations to non-profit religious organizations. In many cases, the intent of the original donors of those funds may have may have been set aside by the leadership of the various religious organizations. I've already had several Catholics tell me that they gave money to help in charitable endeavors and not to pay for a political campaign. They have informed me, they'll remember this when asked to donate in the future and when/if they give, it will be "directed" or "earmarked" giving, i.e., for specific projects, or defined purposes.

Equally disturbing, were some of the outright deceptions engaged in by "yes on 8" partisans. For example, automated phone calls targeting African Americans in which the voice of Barack Obama was imitated. In these "robocalls" the person imitating Obama's voice asked people to vote "yes on 8". A position which the real, now President-elect Obama opposed. He was in favor of NO on Proposition 8. Beyond this, there was a letter which was extortionist in its tone. It demanded that companies which had donated to "NO on 8" pay the "yes on 8" campaign an equal amount of money or, else they would be targeted for economic retribution. Are these "sour grapes"? No, they simply are a review of facts. What is done, is done; however, it will now be undone.

This morning, an injunction was filed with the courts to prevent this measure from taking effect. This is the beginning of a legal battle which will probably end before the same justices of our State Supreme Court who, only a few months ago, ruled in favor of same sex marriage. Time is also on our side. As I mentioned earlier, only 8 years ago, fairness lost by a margin of 11% of the electorate voting against equal treatment under the law. Then, those in favor of legal discrimination were not nearly as well financed as they were this time and yet, this time they only managed to win by a 2% margin. In a few years, we will be positioned to overturn yesterday's results in a future referendum.

More good news, this cost the opposition HUGE amounts of money and human resources. Money and resources which they do not now have to fight us elsewhere. There is also a new administration in Washington DC which will probably repeal some of the faith based initiatives of Bush & Co. The new government will appoint more sympathetic judges. The question of persons with same sex orientation serving in the Armed Forces will probably be revisited.

Still, more good news, in New York state, the state senate is now in the hands of the Democratic Party. The out going senate, which was controlled by Republicans, effectively blocked passage of same sex marriage legislation which had been approved by that state's lower house and which the Governor was prepared to sign into law. So, this now clears the way for New York to pass this legislation. Yes, we lost the battle for proposition 8 in yesterday's election but, the war for equality and fairness continues. Battles are lost by victors in every war.

Last night, after it was announced that Barack Obama was elected President, the press interviewed an elderly African American man who had fought for equal treatment under the law in the 1960's. The journalist asked him if he ever thought he'd see the day when an African American would be elected President of the United States of America. The elderly man paused and stated: Back then, we were just fighting for the right to sit at the same lunch counter and drink out of the same water fountain. My grandfather was lynched by a mob, we were attacked by the KKK. I never imagined I'd live to see this day.

There were many battles lost on the way to greater liberty and justice for all, others were won. We lost a battle yesterday, by a very narrow margin. This is a time to lick our wounds, learn from our mistakes and redirect our wounded sense of justice to fight twice as hard to obtain justice. We lost a battle in California, we won a battle in New York. We've elected a new national government with a thirst for justice. We will prevail again in California and in our Nation. We will join many other people in Europe, Canada and South Africa were discrimination is now illegal. We shall overcome!


rptrcub said...

Padre, I appreciate your fight in this battle.

But this makes me so incredibly mad. I know I shouldn't be, but I cannot find it in my heart to love my enemies right now. I feel like all of us, nationwide, have been attacked. I held no hope for Florida, Arkansas or Arizona, but California was the one place where I had hope.

Martha said...

Father I came to your blog today because not only do I find myself angry and bitterly so, but I feel hate growing inside and eating at me. And I knew that you would help me to see hope and tolerance.

The sea of "Yes on 8" signs that litter my neighborhood in San Diego have been like burning crosses on the lawns of the bigots around me.

I feel alienated from my faith, from my church, from my neighbors, from my home state. And I'm overwhelmingly saddened by this.

But I thank you for your blog. And I know that we will indeed overcome this, and that the battle in our courts is not over and that the day when my daughter can be free to wed the love of her life whether that love is a man or a woman is coming.

I'm full of grief now, but I have room in my heart for hope and forgiveness. I'll be turning to the Episcopalians this week for guidance as I do not think I can stomach Sunday at Saint Gregory's.

My anger, dissapointment and grief are overwhelming me now. I need to turn my mind to other thoughts, but I want to thank you for the stand you have made and for the guidance you offer.


Jennifer said...

Father, I'm curious what you would think about a boycott? There is growing chatter that perhaps, as long as we're at the back of the bus, we might as well follow that to its logical, historical conclusion. I'm conflicted...any thoughts?“B-word”%3A__Yes_we_can%2C_but_should_we.html

Anonymous said...

As you stated, this will be tied up in legal limbo for awhile. 2000 taught me it isn't over til it's over and then it's still not over. People can still unite and work toward defeating this and/or putting it back on the ballot in 4 years. Where will the money come for continuation of this grass roots effort for equality? Well we can all look to the Obama campaign for successful ways to raise big $$$ $5, $10 at a time. This battle may or may not be over but we can still win the war. People all over the US will continue to fight this form of discrimination. We're still with you Fr.Geoff.

Leonard said...

That´s exactly how I view our ¨loss¨...I also add that we have viewed/lived our share of being recipients of Hate...we´ve been discriminated against, persecuted and often it´s been our LGBT family of color who have suffered double trouble...we are a brave lot...we will remain strong...we´re not going anywhere...we´ve always been their brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, best friends, extended family and coworkers...we´ve listened to them go on-and-on about us for lifetimes...we´re here, we´re Queer and those are the REAL facts...I also find it interesting that when challenged to reflect on ¨bigotry¨ and ¨injustice¨ quite often the holiest ones are the ones who fail to look within...what a surprise they will find when SELFHONESTY finally sets-in.

Thanks Padre, I´m Episcopalian, why not join us, the view is quite interesting and OUR DOOR IS WIDE OPEN and THE LIGHT IS ON (but you know that already...verdad?).

V said...

You also have to count on the youth ;D. I'd give it four years max when there will be marriage equality for all. Time is really on our side and the young generation will not forget the injustices of Nov. 4.

Fr. Marty Kurylowicz said...

It is a sad outcome about prop 8. But we still have hope for the future of gay marriage.

I have always loved California; my parents lived in San Francisco before I was born. Growing up I heard so many wonderful memories they had living in California, especially in San Francisco.

It was a historic victory for Obama and for all Americans. It is a new sign of hope for everyone.

You did a courageous thing to stand up for the truth about human dignity. People never forget that kind of courage. It will continue to inspire many more people to work for human rights for all people.

You all gave them a real run for their money and the race was very close. One thing for sure, the opposition found out that LGBT people are not that easily defeated. Next, time we all will come back stronger than ever.

Obama made it to the White House; we’ll soon make gay marriage a reality for the whole nation.

Thank you for your courage, for your strong spiritual witness to truth and love for all people. It was a historic act of love that will never be forgotten.

WifeandMom said...

You know, it's not over yet. There are an estimated 1 million or more (I've heard up to 3 million) absentee ballots still left to be counted. This race isn't over yet. And, I have faith that the NO ON 8 side will prevail!

As far as donating money goes, I stopped giving money to the Catholic church as soon as I noticed that the church and the Knights of Columbus were the main contributors to the Yes on 8 campaign for discrimination and bigots. Yes, I said it.

So, if the church wants to get any of my money in the future, they should try and act in a more Christian and loving way!

James said...

The problem is, all of the "yes, it's not over -- we will prevail in the end" is no comfort to those who are mourning the fact that they are, in the eyes of 50+ percent of the voters, less deserving of humane treatment than chickens are.

Just think about it; more than half of the voters in California chose chickens over humans.

Keep up the work, Fr. Geoff.

Anonymous said...

im so sorry on behalf of all the Christians who thought they were doing God's will. most, not all, but most are not hateful spiteful people. they just don't realize what they do. the media the churches the pollsters ALL lumped prop 4 and prorop 8 together. why? I have no idea but it makes people believe that if one agrees with parental notification one must agree with the removal of human dignity from a group of people to whom marriage means more than at LEAST most heterosexual couples. I am ashamed for all of us. please forgive them and FIGHT ON!

Kevin said...

Thanks Father Farrow for standing up! There's this great scene with James Dean in "Rebel Without a Cause" It's the fight scene between him and his parents on the stairs. He says to his father,"Dad answer her. Dad. Let me hear you answer her. Dad. stand up for me. Dad" Then Jimmy turns and loses it and grabs his father screaming at him, "Stand up!" That's what you did Father and I admire you for that. I'm not in a relationship and wonder if that is what God has in mind for me personally, but for all those who are..remember they can NEVER take away the love you have for your partners. God bless

Sara said...

This Presbyterian, native Californian (but no longer resident), mother of a lesbian, is proud to say a Catholic Priest is her hero. We need to continue to respond to hate with love, even though it's really hard sometimes! Thank you so much for your brave stand. My prayers continue to be with you.

Anonymous said...

There's still MORE good news to note at this point amid the loss - the California Attorney General has stated that the passage of Prop 8 does NOT invalidate the same-sex marriages that already have taken place in California, and he's said he is ready to defend that stance in court if pressed. So, supposedly we have the State of California on our side.

The lawsuit that you mention has been filed by Lambda Legal, along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and the ACLU on behalf of Equality California and six same-sex couples.

If any of your readers aren't familiar with these non-profit groups, they should look them up - they are tirelessly and relentlessly fighting for our rights within the legal system, not only marriage rights, but adoption, child custody, school discrimination, job security and more. Let's talk family values, shall we?

The men and women within their ranks who are working on cases like these are the unsung heroes who still need our continued support.

So, not only do we have time and momentum on our side, we've got folks like this fighting for us on the inside, too.

It ain't over yet.

Wayward Hawaiian said...

Thank you Father. I agree, there was much that happened to give us hope. The demographics are moving our way. The educated and the young are moving our way. Teachers, lawyers, sports stars, movie stars, politicians all moving our way. The notable support was largely for gay rights. The ignorance will wash away sooner or later and our time will come.

Anonymous said...

Fr. Geoff ... I'm back again, this time with such an angry and saddened heart, yet somehow and somewhere in there I am hopeful of the future. Like others whose posts I read on this thread, I came here this morning because I just knew I would find a thoughtful and hope filled post from you, and again I am grateful. You are hurting as much as anyone here, and I hope you feel the great number of loving arms stretched out to embrace you. We shall not be moved!!