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the red state

Fighting a marriage amendment in a state as red as Kansas is absolutely heartbreaking, but not for the reason you'd think. Looking at the situation you'd say, "Losing battle... of course it's crushing." But that hasn't really bothered me. A coworker asked me if we seriously had a chance of winning and I told him of course not... when you stand up for a minority, you can't win. That's what standing up for the little guy is all about. The movies make it look like you'll win, but you don't. It gets to not matter anyway. But I digress.

What's crushing is the little conversations with undecided voters you have, where they suddenly see your side of it so clearly, and you know you don't have the time, energy, or money to have that conversation with everyone. But you wish to hell you did.

I was working the phonebank last night and got to the name of a woman in her 70s. Yeah... shit. These people usually can't hear over the phone anyway, and half the time, they're against us. But I called her because I had to. Her husband answered, I asked for her (we only talk to people with good voting records) and when I asked for her opinion on the marriage amendment she said she'd heard about it but didn't really understand all the deals... was it to legalize gay marriage? Make it illegal? What's this about unintended consequences? When I started to explain she yelled at her husband... "Get on the phone, there's a young lady who wants to tell us about the amendment!" I read them the text. I told them about why we didn't want it on the constitution, why it was unnecessary. I told them that there should be nothing wrong with a civil union, because it's just a legal contract, and why should we restrict legal contracts between two consenting adults just because they're different? The stock arguments. But the couple listened, and they asked questions, and I talked with them for a good 20 minutes, and in the end the woman said, "You know what? I don't think we need that amendment!"

How many couples will we not get to?

Then I went to a party tonight for a coworker who's moving away, and late at night one of The Wives stopped me on the way out the door and said, "Too bad you're leaving, I heard you knew about that marriage amendment. I've just seen ads from the 'vote yes' side, but they don't seem to ring with me." I quit leaving, and told her about how many rights and benefits of marriage there really were, and how same-sex couples wouldn't be allowed to have those benefits because this society we live in doesn't approve of their relationship. She was like, "Yeah, well, there were some people who didn't approve when my husband and I got married, but it didn't concern them. We could make them stay out of it though."

We talked a while longer and then she told me, "I've wanted for so long to have an intelligent, adult conversation about this. Thank you."

Yeah. A Kansas housewife, probably registered as a republican (we're all republicans here), knew deep inside that something wasn't right with the judgemental message of the amendment proponents, but there was no one to assure her that she was doing the right thing. Everywhere there are yard signs... "Vote YES! Protect Marriage!" The other side has money.

What do we have? Voices. I can win almost any debate on this, provided the person doesn't completely hate homosexuality or find gays outright repulsive. The legal arguments are there. The religious arguments are there. I'm trained, rehersed, and at this point can debate the issue in my sleep. But that voice is all I have.

And that's what's heartbreaking about fighting this amendment in Kansas. Losing the amendment isn't it. Knowing that there are people out there who need to hear our voice... that's it. The other side knew this. That's why they rushed it to the polls. They knew that time was our greatest ally, and their worst enemy. Get the people worked up, flash pictures of gay men tounging each other, and check off an agenda item.

Maybe that's why I want to stay here, and be a progressive voice in this state. There's the story of the man on the beach, throwing stranded starfish into the ocean, and someone asks him, "There are millions of these things on the beach. What difference does this make?" He threw another one in and said, "It makes a difference to that one."

It makes a difference to someone.



( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2005 10:37 am (UTC)
The information you have provided has made me decide to vote against the amendment rather than not vote at all. I'm not for gay men or women calling themselves "married" to me that is a word that has been used for too many years to describe a heterosexual relationship. I have no problem with them having a similar relationship acknowledged by law with a different name. But hearing about the unadvertised language in the amendment has made me want to vote it down.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 12:47 pm (UTC)
thank you!

that's why we've published the text of the amendment in every single brochure and flyer we've put up around here... the other side isn't doing that. You never get to see what the amendment says in any of their stuff. That tells me a lot about who's fighting for truth here.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 11:54 am (UTC)
I'm not into politics, but the passion you have for helping people get heard... it amazes me.

It actaully makes me want to help when I get a real life of my own.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 12:25 pm (UTC)
I wonder if you could get a spot on a local TV show talking about this, you could totally spread the message.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 12:50 pm (UTC)
the media has slowly been starting to turn our way. One month ago, all the news stations literally just showed two guys in tuxes making out in front of a pastor and said, "Legislatures just passed an amendment so we won't have this!" We called and bitched at them so much that they're starting to interview our side.

This doesn't accomplish as much as a one-on-one conversation, but it definitely helps. Some robo-poll came out recently stating that the number of Kansans supporting the amendment had dropped from 70% to 54% in three weeks... we take polls with a grain of salt but it was cool as hell.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 02:00 pm (UTC)
Keep fighting, Spacefem.
I'm very proud of you and what you're doing.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 02:48 pm (UTC)
The journey down the road to equality always begins in earnest.
In the begining of every movement the goal always seems hopeless. I'm sure the Blacks thought they'd never be equal and I'm equally as sure the Suffragettes believed this too but they also knew in their hearts what was right and they stood up for themselves anyway.

Even in these more ancient battle, there is still work to be done. Women still suffer big differences in pay and racially motivated discrimination has not been totally eliminated - but the momentum is there and we will see the final solution to these problems in our life times.

The thing to remember here is that this isn't about Kansas and it's marriage amendment, its the opening act in the theatre of a much broder war. Kansas will probably get their amendment, as will other states in US but I'm confident that eventually, the cooler, more collected heads will prevail and ultimately this will result in the land of the free will living up to its name.

Having known many gay people in my life it kind of hurts personally when people talk of their love for each other being immoral or disgusting. To me it's always been equally both in strength and in spirit to the way I would love a women.

I've always suspected that the true cause of homo-phobia is lack of exposure - if people saw the dopey look in their eyes as they kiss or held each other then perhaps the barriers of ignorance would crumble and they'd see themselves in these people. They'd realise that they're really just like us.

As an aside, If you ever find yourself in England, I suggest you take a trip to Canal Street in Manchester and experience the culture of the people you're defending. It's a pretty incredible experience. :)

Apr. 2nd, 2005 03:50 pm (UTC)
Go get 'em! I wish I could do something from here... if you guys can get the "yes" vote under 60%, that would be incredible, beating us here in blue CA (Prop. 22 received 61%, 5 years ago, and I was a volunteer in the "No on 22" campaign, likewise outfunded).
Apr. 2nd, 2005 04:08 pm (UTC)
Keep finghting!
One of the women in Q&A told us at a recent meeting that the tide is really turning . . . if we can win Johnson and Douglas Counties then we have a fair shot at winning! I'm continually inspired to do MORE when I read your posts. Thanks for the encouragement.
Apr. 2nd, 2005 05:36 pm (UTC)
Re: Keep finghting!
Douglas maybe but not a chance in Johnson county
Apr. 2nd, 2005 06:06 pm (UTC)
Any chance i could help with the phone bank from out of state? I have a 316 area code...
Apr. 3rd, 2005 06:05 am (UTC)
There's the story of the man on the beach, throwing stranded starfish into the ocean, and someone asks him, "There are millions of these things on the beach. What difference does this make?" He threw another one in and said, "It makes a difference to that one."

i like that story. and that sentiment.
Apr. 3rd, 2005 09:13 am (UTC)
Here through friend's friend. I just wanted to know whom you worked for, because I'd really love to get involved doing the same sort of thing :). Thanks!
Apr. 3rd, 2005 12:52 pm (UTC)
I'm so, so glad you're fighting this. And yet again, you've managed to crystallise some of my feelings about this issue in an entry.
Apr. 4th, 2005 12:55 pm (UTC)
You know, I find you as a rare intelligent voice from any side of the debate. It would be great fun just to get into a dicussion with you on this despite the fact that I agree with you so much.

You're just really awesome.
Apr. 4th, 2005 01:02 pm (UTC)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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