Prop 8: Chill

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I totally understand the anger, hurt and pain now roiling the gay community and our families, especially in California. But it's important to keep our heads. I've been in the middle of this fight for two decades. It's important to remember that we have never had this level of public support for marriage equality before. In eight years in California alone, the majority in favor of banning marriage equality has gone from 61 to 52 percent. Meanwhile, California's legislature has voted for it, 18,000 couples are legally married in California, and legally comparable (if still unequal) domestic partnerships are available. Very soon, thousands of gay couples will be able to marry in Connecticut. The one state with a history of marriage equality, Massachusetts, is showing how good and positive a reform it is. New York recognizes Massachusetts' civil marriages.

Calm down. We are not experiencing a massive, permanent backlash.

The next generation overwhelmingly backs the right to marry, and there is no sign of cultural reversal, even if we have suffered some electoral set-backs. If Obama has taught us anything, it is to keep our eyes on the prize, and not always to react impulsively to hatred, bigotry or simple ignorance by exaggerating its power over us. We are winning. We lost this one, by an excruciatingly small margin. But the whole point of this movement is education in support of toleration. Even though we lost, we persuaded many of something they barely thought about a short time ago. I am immensely touched by the support of straight readers and all of you, gay and straight, who donated time and money to the No On 8 campaign. We need to remember this as well. And the sight of a small minority having basic equality stripped from them by a religiously-funded majority is itself educational. It has already changed minds. One thing we need to remember is dignity in defeat. That's how it becomes victory.

And we need patience and relentlessness in explaining our lives. And how human they are. It's not fair; we should have it all already. But we don't. And in a democracy, that means persuasion, not fiat.

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