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Manners: How Do I Help Fight Prop 8 and Keep Same-Sex Marriage Legal in California?

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Dear Manners:

I'm appalled at how often my theoretically aware, progressive friends get the most basic facts about our lives wrong -- like how we actually can't get married in 47 of the 50 states. When I hear, "Isn't it great? You can get married now!" I usually respond with a friendly, informative summary of what is and isn't legal. And within a few seconds, they start to tune out with that, "Oh, gawd, politics... " look. Is there a nice, spicy, uber-gay way to summarize the whole thing? Or am I doomed to knock my head on this wall for another 50 years until the rest of the 47 fall in line? -- John V., New York City

Dear John,

While you're 100 percent right about your math, you should be urging all your marriage-minded friends -- gay or straight, whether they live in California or not -- to stay focused on keeping same-sex marriage legal in the Golden State. Depending on the poll and the day of the week, California's vile Prop 8 may become statute, eliminating the right of same-sex couples to marry. If passed, Prop 8 would void the landmark decision of the California Supreme Court this past May that allowed for same-sex marriage. Like eight other states, the California constitution would be amended with a new section, stating, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Geoff Kors, who heads up Equality California, e-mailed me this week highlighting the fact that Mormons have emerged as the leading financial contributors to the California ballot measure. He quoted a recent article in the Sacramento Bee: "Church members have donated about 40 percent of the $22.8 million raised to pass the initiative since July" and noted that "only 30,000 people have donated to the No on 8 campaign [our side] compared to the 60,000 who have donated to the other side."

The Bee story also highlighted the sacrifices being made by those in favor of Prop 8: "That's why Auburn resident David Nielson, 55, is giving... He and his wife, Susan, live on a budget. The couple donated $35,000, he said, 'because some things are worth fighting for.' The couple will forgo a vacation for the next two years and make other sacrifices to pay for their donation."

Yes, the economy is in the tank. Yes, many of us have given to the Obama campaign. But Kors' final plea makes sense to me:

"In a state with about two million LGBT people, in a country with millions more and tens of millions of straight allies, we have to get everyone to support this fight. If every LGBT person donates, we can win!"

And if you can't donate, visit the No on Prop 8 site where you can learn how to volunteer, phone bank (from your own home, no matter where you are in the country), and spread the word.

As for a quick quip for your "progressive friends," try this:

"If we had a national right to marry, you'd be absolutely right, but we don't. And even in the states where same-sex couples can marry, we are afforded no federal benefits -- no immigration rights, no social security, no tax benefits, nor any of the other more than 1,000 federal entitlements. Now, please help us save California. Give with your heart and wallet."

For now, I am reminded of what our community's great friend Armistead Maupin said to The Advocate in July:

"The [marriage] battle has largely been won, I think. The mean and tiny minds who've made it their mission to 'defend marriage' have existed in every era and have always lost. They lost when black people were given the right to vote. They lost when women were finally enfranchised. They lost when the ban on interracial marriage was lifted. And in each of these instances they claimed with a righteous certainty to have God on their side, only to be roundly defeated by the abiding decency and good sense of the American people...."

And, as my grandmother would say before every election: "Don't forget to vote!"

Visit him on the Web at www.gayandlesbianmanners.com

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