Stop the Hate: Vote No on 8 

Activist Robin Tyler enlists the help of some notable friends and takes the campaign against California's proposed gay marriage ban into her own hands. 

BY Anne Stockwell

August 19 2008 11:00 PM ET

 Dolores Huerta (POWER UP) | ADVOCATE.COM

Dolores Huerta

Right out of a
protest rally, the phrase is a long way from the
purposely vague “What if you couldn’t marry
the person you love?” message in recent TV
spots crafted by Let California Ring, a project
of Equality California Institute. That public service
announcement, which hit the air last week at a cost of
at least $4 million, is so careful it’s not
even gay: A conventional bride is blocked on her
way to the altar by such major obstacles as a scattering of
tin cans tied to a car in the parking lot outside.
Who's waiting for the bride? Another bride? Nah. A
male groom who doesn’t run to her rescue, possibly
because he’s having second thoughts about
marrying a woman who can’t sidestep a flower
girl clutching her in the aisle.

“I do not
believe that de-gaying the issue will win it for us,”
Tyler says. “Not being direct in other
states, i.e., Hawaii” -- whose
voters in 1998 made it one of the first states to
ban gay marriage -- “definitely did not
help us. We pay millions to these pollsters to tell us
how to win these initiatives, and despite the failure
of these campaigns, we keep following their advice.”

Speaking to me at
the August 17 shoot, the hetero talent had no problem
relating the gay issue to their own lives.

“If some
of us don’t have civil rights, then none of us do. At
least when we got rid of Jim Crow, I thought that was
the goal,” said Angela V. Shelton -- one half,
along with Frances Callier, of the Air America duo
Frangela. “As two black women, we feel that
it’s really our responsibility, because we have
a platform in terms of the radio, to go out there and
speak out about it,” Collier chimes in.

Tyne Daly briskly
notes that she’s speaking out “because
I’d like to see us return to some form of
representative government in the United States of
America. I think that would be joyful.” Daly cites
her friendship with out Judging Amy costar
Jillian Armenante, who later taped a spot with partner
Alice Dodd and their baby. More than that, Daly
remembers her own past experience as the wife of
African-American actor Georg Stanford Brown.

“When I
got married my marriage was illegal in seven states in this
country,” Daly says. “If indeed you believe
that government should get out of the bedroom, which I
do, then we have to change it law by law. Civil rights
changed by law. Government can’t dictate hearts and
minds. But it can decide law, and when laws changes,
other things change.”

Legendary
organizer Dolores Huerta -- a Catholic mother of 11 children
and partner of César Chávez, cofounder of the
United Farm Workers of America. In a sleeveless
dress edged with a Mexican cross-stitch pattern, she
projects an island of calm as the shoot swirls around her.

“I think
we can defeat it,” she says when asked to size up
Prop. 8’s chances on November 4. “I
think the forces of hate are going to be overcome by
forces that believe that every individual has a right to
determine their own life. One of the most important
decisions that one makes in life is, Who am I going to
live with? Who am I going to marry? How anyone could
even entertain the thought that you can interfere in
somebody else’s life is just totally outrageous.

“When I speak to Latino audiences in particular, I
always refer to our great president of Mexico, Benito
Juárez. He had a saying: Respecting other
people’s rights is peace -- as individuals and in
nations. And when I repeat that phrase, people
understand.”

Besides, she
says, “every single family has someone gay or lesbian
or bisexual in their family. Everybody does. I can say
that about my own family.”

Tags: Politics

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