For immediate release
November 10th, 2008
Youth and Adults with LGBTQ Parents Speak OUT against Proposition 8
COLAGE denounces the passage of Proposition 8 in California. This proposition eliminated fundamental rights, rights that our families need and deserve, and that fact is detestable. By eliminating the marriage rights of gay and lesbian couples in California, Proposition 8 will have a deep impact on children, youth and adults with LGBTQ parents and all of California.
In recent days, we have heard from youth and adult COLAGErs from across the state- sharing their sadness, their fears, and their rage that our society still embraces intolerance and stereotypes about us and our families. Sharing our disappointment and frustration is one step towards healing.
However, we also call on our community to move forward together. This is not the end of a struggle for justice; it is the beginning. All of us at COLAGE have been inspired to work with our members and allies over the past months. Together we have spoken to our friends and family about marriage equality. Together we have educated our communities about discrimination and homophobia. Together we have phone banked, raised money for No on 8 ads, and rallied. And together we will continue to share our stories, educate our communities, build a vibrant movement, and impact change.
Voices from COLAGE about Proposition 8
The following are responses to Proposition 8 from youth and adult Californian COLAGErs. We share them to illuminate the range of reactions and experiences connected to this struggle.
Erin Feisler from Castro Valley, CA lives with her lesbian mother, her mother’s wife, and her boyfriend. I grew up with my lesbian mother and am a straight person who helped organize rallies and events to fight Proposition 8. I could never imagine telling anyone who they can and can’t marry. People who used their vote to try and put a negative stigma on gay and lesbian people and families were selfish. I wish all children were taught about acceptance and love, no matter what their personal beliefs may be.
Camilo Ortiz is the adoptive son of two lesbian moms who lives in Orange County. At a rally in San Bernadino about Proposition 8 he took a stand as a straight Chicano man: Why do I deserve more rights as a heterosexual man than my mothers? I think I have turned out terrific from my family-if being a son who values fairness and open-mindedness is somehow bad for society, then I am not sure this is a society I want to be a part of.
Morgan Early, a recent graduate of UCLA who grew up in the South Bay with her lesbian mom and gay fathers, shared this message about what she wished Californians and the country new about our community: I want to teach them that healthy families require love, and gay couples are just as wonderful as parents as straight parents. The common denominator is the word "parents." I see every day how my mom and dad are parents first, and they just happen to be gay. I also hope to show people that just because a family structure is unfamiliar doesn't mean that it is something to fear. This election is all about unity and diversity and getting past those disabling fears. The Yes on 8 group, unfortunately, appealed to fears that weren't even founded on the truth, and unfortunately it worked. I truly believe that the majority of Yes voters would change their minds if they knew the truth about the Proposition, and the truth about our families. The most important thing to us is living in a society where our families are safe from teasing, harassment, and prejudice. I believe that eventually we will come together to recognize how fundamental and universal this safety is.
Sarah Gogin is a student at Loyola Marymount University, who got to celebrate her fathers’ wedding in August. This fall she has tirelessly spoken out against Proposition 8 as a member of the COLAGE Speak OUT program. Learning that Prop 8 had passed saddened me. I felt as if the country had turned its back on its people. I felt that the country cared more about chickens than about the rights of human beings. I felt that if only the country had the chance to meet my family then maybe they would change their minds. I wish Californians knew that my family is like any other family. My dads are amazing individuals who happen to have been in love for over 22 years. They are a genuine, honest, and wonderful couple as well as fathers. Even though Prop 8 has passed, we shouldn't give up. We shouldn't stop trying to teach others about our families and we shouldn't stop sharing our stories. In the words of our new president, "we have a lot of work to do.”
Shannon Bowman Sarkasian of Campbell, CA also shared her reaction to the passage of Prop 8: I felt heart-broken. I still do. The Yes on 8 campaign was run on lies, fear, and bigotry. It disturbs me that the old familiar "think of the children" hysteria was used—and that people bought it. There is nothing anyone can say that will make me believe my family isn't wonderful and amazing. Prop. 8 doesn't just hurt our families—it hurts California as a whole.
Morgan Falkenrath Green, a young adult who was born through donor insemination and raised by her lesbian mother and transgender father, shares this message with the COLAGE community in the aftermath of Proposition 8: We know our families and our experiences as the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender parents better than any person who is unfamiliar with queer families does. We must make it clear to every unfamiliar person who will listen that it is no longer permissible to assume that our families are deficient, that we would prefer to belong to other families, or that we approve of prohibiting same-sex marriage in hopes of discouraging people like our parents from creating families like ours. I actually feel well developed, privileged, proud and extremely grateful for my family.
A Request of our community from COLAGE
COLAGE calls on our members and allies to stand up against the scapegoating of voters of color in the passage of Proposition 8 in California. Some have publicly stated that the African American vote tipped the scales against marriage equality in California. African Americans represent only 6% of the CA population, while Anglo Americans represent 47% of the state population. This means that the majority of people who voted for Proposition 8 are white. Let's reject racist scapegoating. Affirming racism while standing up against homophobia is never productive and lashing out against those who voted for Proposition 8 will not help educate or raise awareness to move our society forward.
Though we share our communities’ anger and sadness over this vote, looking for someone to blame is not the solution. We want to applaud the leadership of our comrades at the California NAACP, the Jordan Rustin Coalition, And Marriage For All, and countless other African-American led groups that campaigned tirelessly against Proposition 8. At the same time, we call on our entire community to build multi-racial movements that combat not just homophobia and transphobia but all forms of oppression.
While I, like so many COLAGErs, queers, and allies of color, am disappointed and offended by the majority vote in favor of Prop 8, I would like this moment to stand as a reminder that we and our communities do exist not only at election time but all year long, commented Lauren Wheeler, an African American adult COLAGEr from Oakland. It is only through serious work to diversify the gay rights movement and to reach out to and build coalitions with people of color and white folks outside of our cities and like-minded political communities that real change will come--and stick. If nothing else, the wide reach of the Obama campaign should have taught us that.
The biggest demographic factor of Proposition 8 was actually age with 63 percent of voters under 30 opposing the ban and 59 percent of those 65 and older supporting it. This and the great strides we have made since 2000 when a homophobia, anti-marriage amendment passed in CA by a much larger margin, speak to the sure eventuality of full marriage equality for LGBTQ Californians. COLAGE remains committed to educating this and the next generation of young voters so that future elections will claim more victories for important social justice issues.
To set up media interviews with youth and adults with LGBTQ parents, please contact Meredith Fenton, COLAGE Program Director at 415-861-5437 or Meredith@colage.org.
COLAGE is a national movement of children, youth and adults with one or more lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and/or queer parents. We build community and work toward social justice through leadership development, youth empowerment, education and advocacy. www.colage.org