January 14, 2010
By Rick Jacobs
The morning was consumed with our side trying to show that SF and by extension all jurisdictions will be better off if same-sex marriage is legal. Dr. Egan did a very good job of demonstrating that from a statistical perspective, although I was a bit disappointed that he did not know more about the basis of the Williams Institute studies. (Again, the Williams Institute as a unique center at UCLA that deals with LGBT issues and the law and does other academic studies around LGBT issues. Its executive director is a super-smart lawyer name Brad Sears. Check them out here.)
The Prop. 8 side did a pretty good job of trying to impeach his data, trying to show that there are not enough data to draw the conclusions he does, such as that if everyone could marry, we’d be healthier and more productive. However, taken in the context of the previous four days, it’s clear that the level of discrimination that hangs in society has and does damage gay and lesbian people. It’s insidious and perpetual. Therefore, while Prop. 8 picked away at pieces of the data trying to show that Dr. Egan could not know if same sex marriage would decrease opposite sex marriage, doing everything he could to keep the studies and statistics on bullying of apparently homosexual kids out of this trial, the mosaic from a distance is clear. The pattern is indiscernible up close, but you sure can see it. Perpetual discrimination has damaged us. Marriage equality is the lifting of that weight.
My partner (not roommate, not lover, not business partner) Shaun Kadlec made a really great point last night. He is much younger than I am and much smarter. He said that he grew up thinking that the space shuttle was really neat, but no big deal. He grew up with the knowledge that man had been on the moon. No big deal. But he has come to learn how to use the Internet. The next generation will never question or even imagine life without the Internet.
Now, imagine the generation that grows up knowing that gays and lesbians marry and have families. They don’t “partner.” They don’t “skulk.” They are not less than because, as Dr. Cott said on Monday and Tuesday, this highly prestigious institution of marriage is available to all equally.
One other point: Many of you may be new to the Courage Campaign. We have been around for four years. I founded it here in California in late 2005 as an extension of my having chaired Howard Dean’s presidential campaign in California. Every four years, California exports labor and capital for presidential elections; we did so in a huge way for Obama and have done so reliably since 1992, the last time we were a “battleground” state. (Clinton v. Bush v. Perot)
This state has the greatest potential of any in the country to lead and transform our nation in every way. We have seen that more often in the negative since 1978 when Grover Norquist’s wet dream began to come true with the passage of Prop. 13 in this state. That began the so-called taxpayers revolution that undercut government, gutted education and programs for those who most need government. The result 32 years later is that California has gone from number one in education to number 47 or so.
The initiative process is a huge part of the problem. It not only has helped to destroy our state economically, but it has taken rights from people on three occasions, the most recent of which is Prop. 8. (The other two were in 1964 when voters here passed an initiative that overrode the equal housing act, but the courts threw that out. Then in 1992, this state voted that undocumented people could have no access to state services, ie. schools and hospitals. The courts threw that out. Obviously, the courts have maintained Prop. 8, so here we are.)
I write this now because Courage Campaign, which is more than 700,000 strong in California and across the country, is member driven and is a fundamental piece of the progressive movement. We believe that LGBT rights will be gained fully as part of that movement and that our rights are fully integrated with those who have suffered and will suffer even more this year because of the California budget and governance disaster. That’s why Courage leads on issues around budget reform and in this coming year, pending member surveys, on matters ranging from taxing oil companies in this state to pay for higher education to holding right wing folks accountable.
How, you might ask, does this all fit with our enthusiastic support for Ted Olson in this trial? Well, as I’ve said, I’ve known him for twenty-five years. He’s conservative in the classic sense. He’s not reactionary. And he’s very smart. So progress comes in various forms, but all that we do is linked to that movement that will make our state and country great again, but only with your engagement, with your support.
When the AP and others identify us as a “gay rights organization,” that diminishes all of us. That implies, first of all, that gay rights are separate from other people’s rights. And that’s what this trial is all about. We’re all on trial here because of the ability of the right wing to balkanize us, to say, “that’s a Latino rights organization” or “that’s a gay rights organization.” What they don’t want to see is that mosaic of America of which we are all part. We are a progressive, multi-issue, member driven organization. Our members are very interested in LGBT rights, so here we are. And our members are interested in a society that provides social justice and equal access.