A few months ago, my two daughters were ring bearers in two of our closest friends wedding ceremony. My girls dressed up in their Indian clothes, thrilled to have the honor of being such VIPs. As our friends recited their vows, my girls peeked at me and my husband, winking, thumbs up, and very serious about protecting the rings. For my daughters -- 4 and 6 1/2 years old -- it was not a big deal that both of our friends were the same sex.
A few weeks after the wedding, I received the email below (Equality for Us and Our Family) from my newly married friend. Their marriage is in jeopardy due to a vote this coming November. Prop 8 in California will determine whether or not the State Constitution should be amended to eliminate the right of same sex couples to marry.
I believe marriage rights are a legal and equal protection/equal rights issue and not a political issue... however, this issue will be decided at the polls this November in California. More than 25 state constitutions in the USA have been amended in the last 8 Bush years to memorialize discrimination on this issue... as the right wing has been using such propositions as a rallying cry to help get their (socially conservative) voter base out.
My friend is working hard to try to raise money to help defeat this proposition. He scared me this week by telling me the Mormon Church is the single largest proponent of Prop 8, and is doing all it can to ensure that the proposition wins. He said the church has gone on an active campaign on this (political) issue, including promoting the proposition and raising funds for it actively with church members... such that the (conservative) groups supporting the proposition are now $10 million ahead in raising funds. Aside from the fundraising advantage (which results in a practical advantage as misleading advertising is used to scare people into voting for the proposition), key societal and public opinion trends in California generally favor marriage equality for our gay
friends and family.
If you would like to support the right to equality for all families, please do so at Vote No on Prop 8 using referral code 527.
As a mom, I wonder if the State Constitution itself is amended, how do I explain to my daughters that this special day in their life, that the ceremony of celebrating and cherishing our friends love for each other, is somehow not recognized?
Here is my friend's email:
Equality for us and our family
We almost don't know where to begin this note...
* At the moment in the summer of 1995 as I walked on Veteran Avenue toward Joe's student apartment and thought to myself "My God! I have actually met my soul-mate and I am totally screwed...because it is a man!!". I was thinking this because I never thought I would be lucky enough to meet
my soul-mate in life. Growing up in India, where parents and families play a huge role in the selection of a spouse...I had gotten reconciled to the idea of a pleasant but passionless arranged marriage to a girl from a "good" family...and to the idea that I would likely never experience true romantic love
* Or the moment of shock we both felt when Joe startled me by asking for my hand in marriage (sitting in the car in a parking lot on Santa Monica Boulevard)...well before either of us had even acknowledged we were gay!). I instantly "blew off the idea" in embarrassment (a man was asking me to marry him!)...but Joe wouldn't give up so easily (he has proposed to me "officially" at least 3 or 4 more times in the last 11 years)
* Or my moment of "epiphany" driving alone down Olympic Boulevard, 3 years later, before we had told anyone in our lives about our relationship. For the first "in the closet" 3 years of our relationship till this moment in time, I had been reconciled to "sacrificing my love" for the "better good of the family" (as the alternative was obviously going to "blow up" my key family relationships and life plan). However, 3 years into the relationship Joe had finally told me he needed to move on if we were not to be a couple. Faced with the reality of losing my true love, my moment of epiphany went something like this: "My feelings for Joe are the truth...I feel them deep inside me. So I would not be living the truth if I gave this up. Would I respect myself as a person if this is the choice I made? The answer came back clearly: a resounding No! I will only respect myself if I live the truth!". This moment of clarity changed my life forever.
* Or the moments of hopelessness we felt and I continue to feel since we came out to our families 10 years ago....knowing that my parents feel I betrayed them and their happiness...and also knowing it is likely they will never accept that my choice to "live the truth" and choose my happiness (over "what's right for the family") was the right decision
* Or the moment in San Francisco City Hall in 2004...when after standing in line for 12 hours, we were married (thanks to Gavin Newsom!) by a San Francisco City Clerk...both a moment of total happiness for me and my love and family to be....as well as a moment of deep pain....as I knew my sister (and best friend for most of my life) was only 10 minutes away...but I couldn't call her to share this moment with me....as she didn't yet accept that I was doing the right thing (thankfully, she does now!)
* Or how we felt when we received a notice of marriage annulment only 2 months after our wedding in San Francisco....since the weddings completed by the City of San Francisco were deemed "illegal" (as CA voters has passed a law in 2000 banning gay marriages)
* Or how we felt on May 15th of this year when the California supreme court deemed it a fundamental constitutional right of every individual to "establish - with the person the individual has chosen to share his or her life - an officially recognized and protected family possessing mutual rights and responsibilities and entitled to the same respect and dignity accorded a union traditionally designated as marriage".
Wow! The Supreme Court decision made us cry, immediately go for a celebratory lunch at our favorite sushi restaurant, and love this great state we live in! Here's what the court said about whether it was OK to call same-sex unions by a name different than marriage: "assigning a different designation for the family relationship of same sex couples while reserving the official designation of 'marriage' exclusively for opposite sex couples poses at least a serious risk of denying the family relationship of same sex couples such equal dignity and respect".
* Or, the complex range of emotions we felt planning our own impromptu wedding this summer....after we decided we wanted to get married one more (hopefully final) time. The planning process was tiring and a roller coaster ride emotionally....but the day itself was totally magical.
Before we move on from describing our journey, we want you to know that despite all our moments filled with emotions both deeply positive and strongly negative, our journey together has been and continues to be joyful, uplifting and happy.
As you can tell, the marriage issue is a hugely important one for us. Our friends often ask us if we feel any different now that we're married... and we tell them that although the marriage didn't change our feelings or level of commitment to each other....it has definitely made a difference (subtle bt unmistakable) in how we are treated by friends and family. Joe says it best when he describes how the hugs he receives from my sister are totally different now...in a way that warms us both. We also want to be "married" for our kids-to-be....as we believe it will make a difference in how they perceive our family vs. the families of their friends at school.
We are hoping you will care about our marriage....because we know you care about us. So the purpose of this email is to make an "ask"... to help us defeat a ballot initiative (called "Prop 8") that has been placed on the November California ballot to amend the California constitution and take away the fundamental right of same-sex couples to marry.
The opportunity is historic and your support can make a big difference in whether we successfully defeat this ill-intentioned initiative (unfortunately, the "other side" is being funded heavily by so called "family focused" conservatives across the nation. They have raised about $10 million more than us - for a total raised of over $25 million to our roughly $15 million raised thus far). Before we ask you for your money....let us tell you about our own donation to the campaign.
I think you know we are in the midst of the worst mortgage and real estate market since the great depression....and also that this was a market in which both Joe and I were heavily invested (with our careers and other financial investments). Despite the market and our need to be fiscally conservative, Joe and I felt we had to give in an amount that would be meaningful....and that means an amount that we felt was too large for us to afford (i.e., it would feel like a real sacrifice). We told the Campaign ("No on Prop 8") we would help raise a minimum of $10,000 and then decided to donate this full amount ourselves...and try to raise many times this initial goal.
We appreciate your consideration of our request....and hope you decide to make a donation in any amount you feel you can afford (albeit perhaps not totally comfortably J).
The actual process of giving is simple: You can go to Vote No on Prop 8 and make a donation via credit card (Please don't forget to put in 527 as your referral code).
With much love...
Follow Mallika Chopra on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mallikachopra