Obama backers passed anti-gay measures
On Nov. 4, one great civil rights advancement was made by the election of Barack Obama as president, and another civil rights regression was made by adding discrimination to the California Constitution to specify that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized there.

A total of 70 percent of black voters said in exit polls that they voted to add discrimination to the California Constitution. Does anyone else see the irony in this?

It is interesting that they did vote not to require a physician or his or her representative to notify, but not obtain permission from, the parent or legal guardian of a pregnant unemancipated minor at least 48 hours before performing an abortion involving that minor. I guess the only notification will be to advise that the minor died while having an abortion.

So, no marriage for gays but it’s OK to kill your unborn child? Great. I can’t wait to see what other lunacy they bring us: the return of sodomy laws? Remove policies banning discrimination based on sexual orientation from the policies of companies that already have them in place?

Carl Smith

Hey, HRC: Settle for civil unions for now
As a gay man in a long-term — 10 years — relationship with my life partner and living in Texas, I sit here this morning upset with the Human Rights Campaign.

I used to donate and be a supporter of HRC, especially after I won a case in the city of Dallas when I was fired for being gay. But today I am upset, and I have been for some time, that HRC is sticking with the stance that gay people should have the same right to marriage and fighting for gay marriage.

Is it not clear to HRC that the American people will not agree to, accept or pass anything for gay people with "marriage" in the title?

It is clear that the American people are open to discuss about and approval of civil unions with the same rights as marriage. Why, I keep asking, does HRC not fight the small battle first and get us the same rights under civil unions and then take on the larger battle of the title of marriage once we have rights?

I strongly believe that the fight for gay marriage is an all-or-nothing fight, since I live in a state that passed a constitutional ban on anything close to marriage between same-sex couples, and since we saw three other states pass the same ban Tuesday night, Nov. 4, thus putting those gay people in California through the humiliation of having their state tell them Wednesday morning that they also do not agree on the term "marriage" when it comes to gay people.

Obama has already stated that he does not support gay marriage but does support civil unions for gay people. It should be clear today of all days that the road to victory for gay people in America is to take the step of civil unions with all the same rights and then spend years fighting the larger fight for the title of marriage.

I am one gay American asking HRC to do this, and promising to dedicate money and energy to HRC to get us the same rights as every hetero couple in the fastest and most acceptable way — and that way is to take what America will give us now: civil unions with the same rights.

Let me have the right to spend my last moments of life with my partner when the day comes that either one of us are in the hospital. Let me have the right to protect property that we both earned together instead of having to give it away to those who think they have the right to it because they are direct blood family.

Let me have the same rights as hetero married couples and let me have it now, before America takes it all away and before we as gay people have no hope of every getting it back.

Tuesday night we elected a black man to the highest office in this country and there are many that thought they would never see this day. But it took those small steps and many years to get to this day.

Gay people in America are asking for small steps toward equality and it seems HRC wants it all or nothing at all.

Today, I feel like we as gay Americans are closer to having nothing at all than we are to having it all. So HRC, please change your approach before more states ban us from being together or having any rights. States like Arkansas and Florida are moving past just banning gay marriage to banning gay people from being able to have families through adoption. At what point does the fight for it all take its toll and becomes a fight to start over from scratch?

I am one gay American who is not willing to accept the wait-and-see approach.

Shawn M. Quish

Gays didn’t make it to the Promised Land
Now that the election is over, I have heard so much about America reaching the Promised Land.

I am so hurt to find out that in Florida and California, both states that supported Sen. Obama by relatively wide margins, voters also passed amendments to their constitutions outlawing gay marriage.

In Arizona a similar measure was passed, and in Arkansas, gays and lesbians are now banned from being adoptive parents.

The Promised Land may have been reached by many last night, but the road traveled left so many people behind — especially gays and lesbians.

Exit polls suggest that African-Americans overwhelmingly voted for Sen. Obama, and with the same ballot voted against the rights of gays and lesbians. It seems they believe that they can parade into the Promised Land while the rights of other minorities are trashed to the side in a heap of political carnage.

And, despite fears that a Republican president would have worked against us, gays and lesbians have rarely been set back as far as we were last night — all the while we elected a Democratic as president who doesn’t believe in gay marriage himself.

Tuesday night, this nation turned its back to a man who fought with the flag of this country sewn to his shoulder, and suffered years of torture because of it, only to return home with an even greater love of these United States.

Eight years ago Sen. McCain was seen as someone we could all vote for. And now, under the guise of change, we turned against him. Sen. McCain didn’t favor gay marriage, but he stood against a federal marriage amendment banning it — just like Sen. Obama. No better, no worse.

Indeed, change has come to America, from sea to shining see. On our Pacific Coast, Californians who finally were able to formalize their relationships were changed and had such a right stripped from them. Floridians on our Atlantic coast are now certain never to enjoy marriage for all. Indeed, hope of equality changed to the certainty of defeat.

And in the heartland of America, citizens of Arkansas changed countless families by making it illegal for gay and lesbian parents to foster and adopt children.

Indeed, change has come to America.

So for every gay and lesbian man and woman, we stand in the valley of defeat and struggle and watch as African-Americans gather in the streets of Chicago, the neighborhoods of Harlem and the hills of Pennsylvania, and prepare the march into the Promised Land on Jan. 20 — and do so willingly without us.

The Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., in his epic "I Have a Dream" speech, invoked the words of a Republican, President Abraham Lincoln, who declared all men equal, and King complained that still, 100 years later, a race was crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination.

Today I complain that gays and lesbians have been just so crippled and chained for more than 250 years, and last night this country tightened our chains and crippled even more of our bones.

Election Day brought so much change to America, but I wonder if anyone will not only remember when King inspired generations with his dreams and visions of the Promised Land, but when he also cautioned that an injustice anywhere is an injustice everywhere. If he was right in both instances, then what did we really change last night?

Justin P. Nichols

A pastoral letter to the LGBT community

Editor’s note: The following is a pastoral letter to the LGBT community from ministers with the United Church of Christ, which supports full marriage equality for same-sex couples. It is reprinted here with permission from the authors.

Grace to you and peace on this day after the General Election and in the days ahead.

We have come through a historic election and many of us were involved in important ways, working for the candidates and issues that we care about.

Regardless of how one feels about the presidential results, the votes on ballot measures addressing LGBT concerns were disappointing. While these ballot measures were only in a handful of states, the results affect us all.

We write to express our solidarity, the assurance that we are not alone, acknowledge the significant progress made in spite of the results, and the good news of God’s presence with us, especially as we seek to move forward from this place.

First and foremost, we praise God and lift up with deep gratitude all who gave so much to the cause of equality and justice in this election as volunteers or staff to campaigns, with donations and through their prayers. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

As in 2004, the year leading to this election was marked by significant events giving marriage rights to same-sex couples, namely, the California Supreme Court decision last May and the Connecticut Supreme Court decision in October.

To preserve the court’s decision in California, we witnessed an unprecedented effort to defeat a discriminatory constitutional amendment, Proposition 8. People of faith provided significant leadership and support to this effort, joining with others to raise millions of dollars and log hundreds of thousands of volunteer hours in phone banks, canvassing neighborhoods and getting out the vote.

Similar efforts were waged to defeat similar ballot measures in Arizona and Florida, as well as to defeat an anti-gay measure in Arkansas affecting adoption rights.

Through these political processes, we once again endured an onslaught of homophobic lies and deceit which drove a wedge in many of our communities, demeaned our lives, and devalued our relationships and families in order to enshrine heterosexist bigotry into the core documents of more state governments.

How could we not be disappointed and angry? How could we not carry a deep sense of righteous indignation at this injustice?

The votes on our lives and our equality are unfair, unjust and wrong. They violate the core promise of our faith to treat others as we want to be treated and the promise that every American citizen makes, no matter their religious belief, to uphold the values of liberty and justice for all.

Martin Luther King Jr. said that the moral arc of the universe bends toward justice. Old Testament theologian Walter Brueggemann adds, "The moral arc of the gospel bends toward inclusion."

The testament of the Open and Affirming movement within the United Church of Christ and beyond is that we are making progress, mostly in small steps and sometimes in leaps and bounds. Although the progress of equality and justice may have been slowed, we continue forward.

Even in disappointment, there are many things about which we can be proud and hopeful. The election results may not feel like progress now, but as Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry says, "If we lose, we must lose forward." That is, we must continue to learn and grow from all of our efforts, the relationships that have been built and the amazing organizing networks that have been created.

Let us be present to each other, especially now, as we cope with these disappointing results, learn from them and move on. So, let us attend to one another with love and compassion, being vessels for one another of God’s gracious, loving and healing presence.

May the solidarity we share strengthen us and our resolve for the challenging journey that lies ahead.

The struggle is far from over and one day our "yes" will come. This is a confident hope, rooted in the gospel promise of love, justice and abundant life.

"God is turning the page," as our sister, the Rev. Yvette Flunder says, "And, if it is God’s will, then there is nothing in heaven or earth that can stop it." So, let us continue to be vigilant, creative in our efforts, just in our actions and loving in all we do.

May God bless you, each and every one, and may God bring you the peace that surpasses understanding — the peace that only God can give.

The Rev. Mike Schuenemeyer
executive director, Health and Wholeness Advocacy, UCC Wider Church Ministries

The Rev. Ruth Garwood,
executive director, UCC Coalition for LGBT Concerns

These letters appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 7, 2008.

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