Friday, February 20, 2009

Why we fight.

On Tuesday , February 16th, I had the distinct privilege of addressing thousands of volunteers who had gathered at our State’s capitol for Lobby Day. They were there to meet with members of our state’s legislature and ask them to vote YES on HR5 and SR7. These two resolutions, if passed, would be an official statement by both houses of our State Legislature requesting the California Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8. For more information, please read my previous post entitled “Time to Act.”

I have received several requests to print a transcript of the my address to the volunteers. I have printed the text of my message here below.

Prop 8 is not simply about your right to civil marriage as important as that is. Make no mistake, Prop 8 is about your right to exist. Recently, I received an E-mail from a young man. He wrote: “I have spent all of my life trying to please other people. Twice, I have attempted to take my own life. Thank you for speaking for those of us who are not brave enough.”

Think back on your own life’s journey. Remember when you first discovered that you were gay/lesbian? Most of us were kids in middle school. Our greatest fear was being rejected by family and relatives. So, we learned how to “pass” out of fear and the need to survive; we learned how to lie. The cost of this was, of course, self-loathing. This is why there is a higher incidence of alcohol, substance abuse and teen suicide among gay/lesbian teenagers.

We learned how to be invisible in order to survive. My therapist pointed out to me that many professional gay/lesbian people remain closeted because their private practices or careers would be compromised, or destroyed if they came out. Right now, you might be thinking: “But, if I come out, it will cost me my job!” “Cry right here.” (I patted my shoulder).

The “cost” of not coming out is that a piece of you dies every day until there is very little left. The cost is a life lived in fear. The cost is that you have to play along and laugh when someone makes a “fag” joke. In his book, “The Secret History of the American Empire” author John Perkins makes an interesting observation. He says, “Most Americans know that Hugo Chavez is the President of Venezuela and that Evo Morales is the President of Bolivia. But, how many Americans know who the President of Kenya or Zimbabwe is?” Then, he goes on to drive home his point, “It is easy to kill invisible people.”

That is the real End Game of the Prop 8 proponents. They want to stuff us back into the closet. They want us to become invisible. They deliberately targeted California and pumped in tens of millions of dollars from throughout the United States to support Prop 8 because, in their own words, “California is a bellwether state.” They will go on to weaker states and target adoption laws, employment discrimination laws and fair housing laws. They will spend millions and mobilize to attempt to maintain “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” as a permanent feature of our Armed Forces. They want us to be invisible, to not count.

Many legislators and voters who have changed their position in our favor, have done so because a family member, a relative, a friend or a co-worker has come out to them. The proponents of Prop 8 know this too and that is why they want to stuff us back into the closet and make us invisible. As I said at the beginning, you are not just fighting for the right to civil marriage, you are fighting for your right to exist. So what can you do?





Fran said...

clap clap clap clap clap

Hear the applause - your words are filled with power.

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post--you are getting stronger every day. Great seeing you in Sacramento.

Anonymous said...

Father Geoff -- I just wanted you to know that YOU ROCK and to me, you are already a saint.


Cobalt said...

Thank you for your work.

filkertom said...

Fantastic. Crossposted to my LJ.

Valentine said...

Thank you, Father Geoff. God bless your good work.

Anonymous said...

May whatever God or gods there be rain blessings upon you, Father Geoff. And grant strength to you in the ongoing fight.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Father. May your words reach far and touch many hearts and lives. Brightest blessings on you.

Lindasusan said...

Remember, too, that marriage equality doesn't just affect gay and lesbian people. Bisexuals in same-sex couples can't get married. Transgender people could have even their different-sex marriages revoked if anyone challenged their legal sex. We're all in this together.

Thanks for all your work!

Göran Koch-Swahne said...

This is sooo right!

Anonymous said...

While I may not be out 100% by way of actually making the announcement, I know that colleagues know. It doesn't have to be said. But to those colleagues I have come out to, there has been nothing but support. It also gave way to interactive conversation about what we did over the weekend or where we are going tonight. Before I came out to these colleagues, they must have thought I led a boring, mundane life. I also felt that "being out" would open the door to other gays and lesbians who might live right in my "back yard." Which in turn would expand my network of friends and perhaps someone I may have a romantic interest in.

I am a cheerleader for gay rights and causes, but it is more behind the scenes. Working for an "at will" community, job security is never secure.

Thank you for sharing your transcript and thank you for all your work you do.

Anonymous said...

I found my Bible the other day. I wanted to hold it close to me and I couldn't.
It used to bring me such peace. Now, it reminds me of the time I went to Church and the priest told everyone to vote "Yes on 8" to protect families.
How my love for someone is, in the eyes of the Church, a threat? I cannot understand...
And I know that God and the Church are very different things. But the Bible used to be such a peaceful refuge...
Some days I want to believe again. But I don't know how to. Because if I believe entirely in what I was told from my church, that would include denying or even disliking or even hating this part of me that is my ability to offer love.
I fear the church now... and I am sure I am not the only one.
Would you write to the ones that are not sure how to be Catholic and love someone of the same-sex at the same time. Would you write to those of us who are still confused because we can't hear the voice in our heart among all these voices of condemnation that we hear from so many out there?
I know that you are probably very busy, but maybe some day if you have the time, you could help us in this respect.
You have already helped us open the door of acceptance for ourselves. Thanks for your courage and your message.