“Marriage isn’t a special right. Marriage is a civil right.” – Robin Tyler, one of the plaintiffs in the Prop H8 lawsuit currently before the California Supreme Court
Yesterday, something amazing occurred. On a beautiful and sunny Sunday in Southern California, people came to speak up, speak out, come out, and make a difference. And on what was supposed to be a normal Sunday at Saddleback Church, they witnessed today’s civil rights movement in full force.
Golly gee whiz, what a mistake it was to tell a concerned citizen that she wasn’t allowed to come into church!
Earlier this month, Robin Tyler, her wife, and a few of their friends believed Saddleback Pastor Rick Warren when he said he wanted dialogue with LGBT people. That’s why they asked him if they could
come to church this Sunday and show him & his congregation some public service announcements on LGBT civil rights that were produced by gettoknowusfirst.comand allornotatall.org,
their grassroots groups. They figured that since Rick Warren has told the media he was “misunderstood” on Prop H8, that he’d like to clear the air and show his congregation how accepting he and the church really are. But to their surprise, he refused their peace offering and told them he may reconsider some other time.
Even though Warren wears a smile on his face as he says he’s not a homophobe, his actions don’t match his words. He may have wanted to simply sweep his “gay problem” under the rug in time to bask in the spotlight of being christened as “America’s Pastor” at Barack Obama’s Presidential Inauguration this Tuesday, but Robin Tyler, her friends from all over California, and a number of us local civil rights activists had something else in mind. Warren didn’t want us in his church, so we took our message of equality directly to his parishioners and the surrounding community just outside the church.
Warren may not have wanted to turn this into a spectacle, but he couldn’t stop what was happening outside. We held our signs. We took over all four corners of the intersection. Oh yes, and we even talked to people outside the front entrance! And did I mention that the local newspapers and teevee stations came with their cameras and notebooks? Oops.
This is the problem we’re currently facing. The forces behind Prop H8 want to hide their bigotry behind a facade of “tolerance”. That’s how they were able to squeak by with 52.3% of the vote last November.
But you know what? The days of “soft bigotry” are over! We will no longer allow them to get away with H8. Now, we must expose them for what they are as we tell of our own message of love and acceptance.
Most voters in California, including many who attend churches like Saddleback, aren’t hateful people. Rather, they haven’t learned the truth of how there is no “separate but equal” and how thousands of families all over this state are being hurt by this myth being propped up by Prop H8. And once we work our hardest to share with these voters what marriage equality really means, which is protecting and strengthening all families, they will support our movement for equal rights.
So now, let’s get that message out! Let’s support the good grassroots groups I mentioned earlier. Let’s support organizations like Courage Campaign that are already at work preparing a winning campaign to end H8. Oh yes, and let’s start to support the great new local groups that are part of this statewide and nationwide civil rights movement.
This is why I have hope today. The beautiful struggle for equality isn’t over just yet. Rather, the best is yet to come. No matter what the forces of H8 try to do to us, love and equality and justice will ultimately prevail.