Autostraddle Roundtable: So … Prop 8 Was Upheld. What Do We Do Now?

Soooooo … Prop 8 was upheld. That was neat. What do we do now?

In the hours and days following the court’s decision on Prop 8, many pundits, politicians and writers started talking about where we go from here. Do we try again in 2010 or 2012? Should we dump gay marriage as a cause and focus on universal health care and better adoption laws? Do we re-think our approach, supporting only organizations, businesses and political leaders who actively support our values? Perhaps we should concentrate on earning rights for all unmarried people? Do we take it to the streets?

So we decided to talk about what we think should happen next — and what needs to happen for Prop 8 to be overturned with the ultimate goal of equal rights for all. What’s holding us back, what can we do, what other things need to happen in America for our laws to change?


Autostraddle Roundtable:
What Now, Gays?




There’s SO MANY THINGS that need to be changed/fixed/improved, so while I do feel that “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” should just go away already, I’m gonna actually write about something else I feel very strongly about—the separation of church and state!

Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor did I do any research to accompany the following paragraphs.

Back in middle school & high school, we’d read about all the great lengths our forefathers went to to ensure a strict separation between church & state and blah blah blah but we all know what that really means. We’re “one nation, under God,” so obvs this church/state thing was problematic from the start.

And since we don’t have time machines (I wish!) and can’t go back and try to explain to the old white dudes in the powder wigs about abortion and gay rights and all that good stuff, we have to figure out how to make it work now.

What each couple does with their civil union license is their choice. They could get “married” at their church or synagogue! They could have a small party for their friends and family! Or they could do NOTHING at ALL! It’s entirely up to them based on their families and beliefs. Done and done.

Unfortunately, I don’t think there will come a day in the US where we will have an actual separation of church and state, I think it’s (unfortunately, in my opinion) too much a part of what we are. And when I say “we,” let me be clear: it’s a “we” that I don’t feel as though I’m really a part of. Maybe it’s because I don’t agree with war, maybe it’s because I fully support an individual’s right to choose what is best for them, maybe it’s because I don’t currently have equal rights under the law. But I live here and I’m a citizen and I’m not planning on revolting or leaving any time soon. But there are certain things that the federal government can do to ensure that things get on a better path.

Don’t try to change the definition of marriage—remove it from all government and legal documentation and jurisdiction from here on out. The term “marriage” is causing far more bad than good and besides, it’s an outmoded patriarchal institution that is rooted in misogyny and other terrible things. States should be giving out civil union licenses, not marriage licenses. And we already know what a civil union is—same thing as “marriage” but without the name (in most instances). So just get rid of the name. Then, any consenting couple can go get a civil union license, which grants them all of the rights and privileges as married couples are granted now, just with a different name. Then, what each couple decides to do with that is their choice. They could get “married” at their church or synagogue! They could have a small party for their friends and family! Or they could do NOTHING at ALL! It’s entirely up to them and their families and beliefs. Done and done.

Certainly, in my personal idea of a Utopian society, there’s very little organized religion and the government leaves its citizens alone, but obviously that’s not happening any time soon. If we are able to remove religiously-based terms and institutions from federal and state government, though, I think that it will lead to bigger and better things over time.




In my humble roundtable opinion, there’s nothing more effective and important in our everyday little gay/bisexual lives than being 100% honest about who we are to ourselves and to others around us.

Note: I didn’t use the term “come out” in that sentence. Not to get annoyingly specific about my own situation, but I never “came out” to family and friends because it just wasn’t for me. I felt it would perpetuate categories with them. I’ve only “come out” strategically in conversation with strangers.

Example: In a conversation with a few friends and acquaintances, one in particular felt it appropriate to throw around gay slurs and “faggot” and misogynistic language as well (cause they usually go together, right?)

Agree with how hot the waitress is when the guy next to you does. Proclaim your love for Jennifer Beals to your friends when they’re all hetero-crazy over Zac Efron (he’s totes cute, so you can agree with them too!)

So my interjection was “Um hey! Did you know I’m gay?” and I think it threw him off a bit. So he says“Yeah!” and I continue with “So is there a problem with that?” “No. Not at all.” That’s all it took, really. He started back-tracking. Even if this guy’s behavior or general opinion hadn’t changed at that moment, the seed had been planted. He saw that it wasn’t safe to use those words after all, that his opinion wasn’t universally respected by those around him.

I don’t think many people (or friends/acquaintances/strangers) want to offend us right to our faces.

The thing is, if this gentleman’s language was racist, you know he wouldn’t dare talk like that in front a black dude. It’s scary that we have to let ourselves be known because it’s not always written on our foreheads. But I’m telling you, for yourself and for the rest of us – it’s totally worth it. It’s all that we CAN do right now.

And this stuff doesn’t always have to be confrontational! Agree with how hot the waitress is when the guy next to you does. Proclaim your love for Jennifer Beals to your friends when they’re all hetero-crazy over Zac Efron (he’s totes cute, so you can agree with them too!)

You’re a girl. You like girls (and maybe even boys sometimes too.) It’s as simple as that and there isn’t a damn thing wrong with it. Own it, girl.

“If a bullet should enter my brain, let that bullet destroy every closet door.”
(Harvey Milk)

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  1. I don’t think we need any new laws. Every law we could possible want is already in existence, it just isn’t interpreted to be inclusive for everyone. What this country needs is a healthy dose of legal revision…and in the case of DOMA/DADT legal repealing.
    I also really love the generational differences pointed out by many members of the roundtable. One of the first things my mom said after I came out (and after quite a bit of crying) was “I’m glad your grandmother isn’t alive to see this.” It wasn’t that mom didn’t love me, or didn’t wholeheartedly support me (she’s the greatest)…it was just that grandma, in all honesty, was a bigot. And a racist. And she really liked to vote. Grandma didn’t understand, much of her generation doesn’t get it, but they aren’t always going to be around and the most reliable voting bloc in the country.
    i also love when tinkerbell participates in anything.

    • You know what was so weird to me? that because of all the generational differences I have heard so much about, I was never going to tell my grandparents — and i was told by a family friend who’d read my blog that my grandma never needed to know. and then i found out that she does know, and she just wants me to be happy and stuff. but also, i think maybe I am very lucky, family-wise.

      tinkerbell loves to participate.

      • I think a lot of times we don’t give the older folks enough credit. Like they are super fragile or something when, in fact, they are probably stronger than us.

        My girlfriend and I have been together so long that it is pretty much impossible to hide the true nature of our relationship from family members, yet out of respect for her mother’s request we never formally told her grandparents about us. When her grandfather passed away last year, without us saying anything at all, her grandmother listed me in the obituary along with all the other spouses of the children and grandchildren.

  2. Um…Robin, what the hell was wrong with your health teacher? That whole AIDS exercise is beyond bizarre.

    This touched on something that has been bothering me lately and that’s kids. The “I’m confused” NOM ad basically says that opposite marriage must be protected for the sake of the children because, apparently, if kids find out about the existence of gay folk they’ll burst into flames or something. Well, what about gay children? Do they not matter? Is their emotional well-being less valuable than that of a straight child?

    If the Bill O’Reilly’s of this world are really concerned about protecting children, all children, like they say then how about promoting a positive inclusive atmosphere so that our young brothers and sisters don’t feel so alone and wrong and different. All this “protection” the crazy Christians seem to want for kids can do untold damage to a certain kind of kid.

    I just wonder why no one calls them out on their shit and asks why they seem to consider gay kids driven to suicide by their heteronormative propaganda acceptable causalities.

      • we did the aids thing too! we also did a fun [not] exercise where we all had to spit into dixie cups filled with water and then “have sex”/combine our cups with each other. at the end, she had us all pour our little cups into clear containers so we could see how disgusting they were. ew.

        • that is so wrong on so many levels.

          all I remember from sex ed was something about female condoms.. the rest was just us being immature and giggly– and pregnancy talks

          i don’t remember anyone in my high school being out except MAYBE 2 people – I was talking bout this with my senior year english teacher over my break and she said “this school has changed alot since you were here (2004)” I take tht as a good sign of kids being more open

    • I went to this private school where the sex ed teacher told us she loved having sex with her husband (though orgasms were never discussed and i actually had no idea how sex itself would actually work, or that women had orgasms, until like many many years later) which totally grossed us out and made us never want to have sex ever. She also invited an old friend to come in and tell us how he burned a hole in his nose from doing cocaine and how much it sucked to be in jail, and our school brought in four people who actually had AIDS to tell us about it. also they had us put condoms on bananas. The only thing they really lied to us about was drugs. this was in 7th grade i think. i remember though that in all the private & public schools i went to, we were never allowed to talk about abortion. It was just a forbidden topic, across the board, like someone had decided it would just be easier that way.

      • In my school when we had sex education we were made to put condoms on a banana as well. One girl was allowed to sit it out after claiming that her religion (judaism) forbid her to touch condoms. I asked my teacher about protective sex for gay people and my teacher drew a sigh and said “I’m afraid I’m not allowed to answer that question”. Good old section 28 in the UK!

  3. I also feel like sex education is so important, mostly ’cause my class was useless and I left high school feeling no less confused about anything. We never, ever discussed homosexual relations. At that time I wasn’t sure if I was gay or bi, but I knew I was attracted to girls. Do two women need condoms too? How do they have sex? Why did nobody ever talk about this? The worst would be to raise my hand and ask — this would lead to weird looks and giggles from my classmates, alienation in high school is too much to bear. I stayed silent and I know I’m not alone in this — too often we’ve been silenced and made to feel like if the teacher wasn’t talking about it then it was important enough to ask. It starts with education and schools can no longer pretend that gays and lesbians don’t exist. Tinkerbell should be a sex ed teacher, she’s so smart.

  4. ‘What is wrong with you people’ Tinkerbell’s piece was the best!
    Also, I asked my sex ed teacher what an orgasm was.. eeek!

    Hey, be grateful your president isn’t teaching your youth that showering after unprotected sex with an HIV positive woman, will stop you from getting AIDS. I’m serious, look it up people.

    Great roundtable, as always!

  5. TINKERBELL FTW as usual!!
    No but seriously, another great roundtable. Socialization and the gender construct is so intriguing and complex. What is innate and how does society shape us?
    And like Debs, I think it’s interesting how so many people pointed out the generation-gap. It helps to show we’re moving forward with opening our minds and progressing (slowly/surely as it may seem) towards equal rights. As we know, history repeats itself and equality concerning the “unicorn concepts” like Crystal says, is sure to come in time! Keep pushing Autostraddlers :)

  6. Move to MA and NE because next it will be civil unions repealed and child adoption. You folks started this and we are to end it by removing the above. Last enforcement of old sodomy law. 10 years of this baloney. We are going to finish it.

  7. We did something similar in my health class in high school with the name gathering. But in the end we all had an STD (not just HIV/AIDS) and our teacher didn’t tell us all we were dead! Actually, sex ed was more productive/informative in my 8th grade when they separated the girls and boys and let us ask literally ANYTHING we wanted either in the group or via anonymous questions submitted earlier… but then again, hardly anyone was bold enough to ask important questions.

  8. I haven’t read everything (because I’m skimming, it’s late and I have to come back to read everything) BUT – I wanted to mention something that I learned about the U.S. constitution this week that I never knew – which is that “under God” was an add on in 1954 after a campaign by The Knights of Columbus (round the time of McCarthyism) and was never part of the ORIGINAL text.

    Alex – you’re my gay idol.

    Love the round tables…

  9. A Speech from ” LOS HOMBRES DE PACO cap.96 ” by Povedilla :
    Do u know what’s not normal ?
    It’s not normal to think that making love is a sin!that’s not normal..It’s not normal to think that God doesn’t love the lesbians and homosexuals!that’s not normal!
    It’s not normal that the church covers up abuse of children n doesn’t allow priests to marry. It’s not normal-the riches of the vatican/the rings/the gold/the money thrown at publicity campaigns & it’s absurb that meanwhile 30 million people in Africa contract AIDS bcoz they dont use condoms. God gave us 2 arms and 2 feet & also gave us the capacity to love, to want to touch each feel with ur fingers an accelerated heart beat w/ excitement.And that cant be a sin..Love isn’t easy,and you’re trying to make it so much harder and more complicated as if it’s not complicated enough, as if it’s not enough that all of humanity complicates it already.To love is to also understand rejection. To understand that you’re going to get hurt, you’re going to suffer, you’re going to cry. It’s to understand that things are very different from holy matrimony.
    Today, you marry and you live happily ever after? False!
    As much as you want to keep proclaiming it. You know what I think? I think you don’t know what it means to love, because if I’ve learned something after all these years, it’s that if to hold someone so tight that you don’t know where you begin and they end is a sin? Gentlemen, I’m a sinner.Because the only God I believe in is love. Do you understand? Love.

  10. you know i really love it when everyone gets all serious and talks about actual issues. it makes me happy to know people actually acknowledge this stuff out there in the real world. once again…. i have alot of thing i want to say, but i wont. i will say that i love about everything Alex had to say.
    and riese, i love that you linked that story. makes me happy. i mean… not the story…but the fact that you linked it. more people should know about it.

  11. Carly – I agree more than 100%, which probably means it’s spilling over onto other people…

    Another example: Venezuela gay rights organizations explicitly asked that the term “co-inhabiting association” be used in current negotiations of same-sex legal unions in Venezeula.

  12. I remember in grade 9 health class we were talking about AIDs and our teacher told us that it was most prevalent in homosexual men. I raised my hand to ask her why that was and her response was: “(big sigh) do you really want me to explain it to you?” I said yes and she went on to tell us how gay men have sex which can lead to tearing and the spread of AIDs. She made it seem like I shouldn’t have asked the question (I’m not a man so why should I know about their sexual health after all) and that the rest of the class should be grossed out because I’d made her explain it. Oh public school sex ed…you didn’t teach me anything useful.

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