However, California's Proposition 8 is causing some conflict this month. The proposition, a voter initiative, would define marriage in the state as only being possible between a man and a woman. That contradicts the recent state Supreme Court ruling that such a limitation discriminates against gays.
For the last several weeks we have seen demonstrators at busy street corners around the neighborhood, shouting and waving signs in favor of Proposition 8. You see more yard signs (No on 8) on the subject than for the presidential race. There is a shortage of Obama signs, and anyway, 80% of Oakland is expected to vote for the Democratic nominee. No contest. But proposition 8 is causing hard feelings.
I wrote the following to my neighborhood email list ten days ago, after a particularly hot afternoon outside my son's school:
Today for the first time I happened to drive past the Yes on 8 demo at school hours, with my two young sons in the back seat.
Now it was a hot day and I had my chemo turban off, revealing my new growth of hair that looks like a crew cut. I no longer wear a wedding ring because due to treatment it doesn't fit, and I haven't replaced it yet. There I was, a tall, crew cut female with no wedding ring and two children in the car, stopped at the light while the demonstrators screamed into our open windows: A Mom and a Dad! A Mom and a Dad!
It happens that my children's father and I are happily married, making me a heterosexual. But so what? Some might think I look like a lesbian. I have many dear friends in the lesbian and gay community, some of whom have celebrated joyous weddings this year.
I felt terrible waiting at that traffic light. I felt vulnerable, that a demonstrator might scream at me, taking me for a lesbian mom, and I felt upset for my friends and the people I don't know in the neighborhood who are gay and have young children. What do they feel as they sit at that light? I have that same strange sensation when people say anti-Muslim things around me or even at me - they don't know who I am, and even if I'm not a Muslim, why is it bad to be a Muslim? Don't cast your hate on me, and don't be hating on other people around me.
My kids asked me why those people were yelling Yes on 8. I told them that they don't agree with letting two mommies marry each other, or two daddies, but we do. We aren't going to argue with them or yell back either (my 7 year old wanted to). We just don't agree with them.
Oakland is likely to go 80% for Obama or more. But this demonstration reminds me how divided our neighborhoods and schools are in other ways.
Marriage equality for all does not threaten my own marriage. How can it? The joy, hope and happiness my many gay and lesbian friends express this year as they marry and start families has given me hope, too. My husband and I feel the same about all of our friends who choose to marry, straight or gay: we wish them the best and we are glad to see them set out on this journey that gives us so much love and comfort.
I thought of the pictures of the anti-civil-rights demonstrators of the old days, angry white people screaming in the faces of young, frightened black students as they walked into all-white schools to enroll. I tried to have some compassion, too, for the demonstrators, tried to imagine that they must think they are doing the right thing somehow, they must be driven by fears I don't understand.
Why am I writing this for the neighborhood list? Well, it's in solidarity with anybody who feels frightened or vulnerable when they pass those demonstrators; for anybody who has children in the back seat who say: why are they yelling "A Mom and a Dad"? For anybody who got married this year and is trying to hold on to the love and good memories of a long-awaited wedding. I am with you and I am voting No on Proposition 8 on November 4th.