Over the weekend, I attended the Great Lakes History Conference, which had women's history as its theme. More on that later, this post has a point -- eventually.
One of the papers on one of the panels that I chaired focused on the legal arguments surrounding the fight for woman's suffrage. One of the stragetgies of the movement involved an attempt to set a legal precendent by procuring an interpretation of the 14th Amendment. When that not only did not work, but also backfired as the courts began explicitly excluding suffrage from an understanding of citizenship in decisions that also lay the legal groundwork for Jim Crow.
The author of this paper, Annmarie Valdes, opened by drawing a connection between the rights of citizens and gay marriage. While the woman's suffrage movement had voting rights as its goal, the underlying argument for it and for later civil rights' movement relied upon the definition of "citizen," and the rights conferred with citizenship. With marriage seen as a contractual union -- also a 19th century development that another panelist examined -- and the right to enter into contracts seen as a civil right, the exclusion of a whole segment of the population from this right to enter into this marriage contract is, in fact, an infringement upon gay people's rights as citizens.
Which brings me to the point of this post. As you may know, the right of California gay couples to enter into this contract of marriage, to arrange their private lives with all of the same protections that straight couples have, is at this very moment being threatened, and threatened with all due prejudice and not a little hate. The tool of this hateful prejudice is Proposition 8.
Look at the language of the ballot, courtesy of the fabulous Lori Hahn, of Hahn at Home: "Changes California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid in California." In cold terms, a right is being eliminated. A right.
Sadly, the forces of ignorance seem to be ahead in California, having $10 million more to organize and "educate" support for Proposition 8, according to Equality California (as quoted in the "8 Against 8" press release by Lianne Stokes). To fight the hate, 8 lesbian bloggers -- bloggers whose civil rights are directly at stake in this election -- will be blogging about Proposition 8 for the next 8 days in an effort to raise $8 million.
Since we all can't vote in California (which suggests sort of a states' rights question waiting to be asked there), we can still demonstrate our opposition to Proposition 8 in a few ways.
First, go to Equality California's 8 Against 8 to throw a little cash their way. Every dollar counts.
Second, pass the word on to your readers.
Third, go read the blogs. You may even want to add them to your blogroll, if you haven't already:
- Lori Hahn, Hahn at Home
- Pam Spaulding, Pam's House Blend
- Dorothy Snarker, Dorothy Surrenders
- Grace Rosen and Grace Chu, Grace the Spot
- Kelly Leszczynski, The Lesbian Lifestyle
- Sinclair, Sugarbutch Chronicles
- Renne Gannon, Lesbiatopia
- Riese, This Girl Called Automatic Win