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NCIS Star Pauley
Perrette Takes On Prop. 8 

NCIS Star Pauley
Perrette Takes On Prop. 8 


NCIS star Pauley Perrette calls herself a "Christian, churchgoing, Bible-quoting, praying, thinking civil rights activist" -- which might explain the actress's passionate letter and grassroots efforts urging Californians to vote no on Prop. 8.

TV audiences know her as Abby, the kooky goth chick that works in the forensics lab and helps solve murders on the top-rated CBS procedural NCIS. But in real life the only thing that Pauley Perrette shares with her television alter ego is a tendency toward hyperactivity...and right now Perrette is pretty hyper over Proposition 8, the proposed constitutional amendment that would eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in the state of California.

Long a fan of the gays -- Perrette has said in interviews that she was virtually "raised" by the drag queens that worked in the bars she would sneak off to as a teenager growing up near Atlanta -- Perrette recently began a grassroots online effort to convince people to vote no on Prop. 8. She composed a heartfelt and passionate letter challenging the religious right's allegations that legal same-sex marriage would negatively affect church rights and would be taught in schools, then sent it out to everybody in her address book.

Perrette, who recently got engaged to longtime boyfriend Michael Bosman, sat down with to talk about why the issue is so important to her, and how the outcome of the next election may influence her own decision to get married. compelled you to write this essay?Pauley Perrette: I've recognized for a long time that the discrimination of the gay community in so many ways mirrors that of the women's suffrage movement and the racial civil rights movement of the '60s. It's the same thing -- one group wanting to keep rights away from another group in the land of equality. When the government has the power to take away the rights of any group, all are vulnerable. We have given the government the power to strip anyone of their rights. I believe the civil rights challenge of the gay community is our generation's issue to fight and make right, just as brave Americans before us have changed the plights of women and people of color, and it's important for evolved, intelligent, and passionate straight people to speak out strongly against the iniquities forced upon out gay brothers and sisters.

Who were you looking to speak to or reach with it? Well, I would love for women, people of color, and churchgoers to read what I wrote. Women and people of color should relate completely to being discriminated against and should continue to always fight for the civil rights of all. The religious community...well, they try to accuse supporters of gay rights of being heathens, et cetera. Nope, I've read the same book, and I am in church on Sunday. I speak their language, and they are using the beauty of God and love to promote hate. For all those "Christians" out there who think they are doing the Lord's work with their campaign of hate and intolerance, I'm a Christian, churchgoing, Bible-quoting, praying, thinking civil rights activist, and I support gay rights and civil rights for all. Bring it on; I'm ready.

You come from an area that is typically thought of as being very old-fashioned in its beliefs. Do you think that makes you more prepared to address bigotry and intolerance? I grew up in the Deep South, where sexism, racism, and homophobia were and still are alive and well. I have early, early memories of words and actions of this type being very painful. I tried to befriend people that were different than me and learn and love send the message that you are OK, and loved and perfect, even though they were surrounded by bigotry. I remember being on the bus with the only black girl. I would go to the library and check out books that had people of color on the cover and then sit next to her. I was only, like, 6 years old. But I had gone through my own struggles. I was a female and was also born with a few childhood problems that required leg casts and the dreadful patch over my eye in school. I knew what it was like to be discriminated against and for people to be mean. It hurts. I do not want to be a part of hurting people.

How might the passing or failure of Prop. 8 affect your plans to get married? In his proposal speech, which happened soon after California made same-sex marriage legal, Michael said, "The laws have changed now." We'd been waiting until everyone could marry before we did it ourselves, because all of our friends are gay and it was very important to us to wait until they could do it too. The Yes on Prop. 8 people say that equal rights threaten their marriage, I can honestly say that bigotry threatens ours. It is not the same if some people, for no real or valid reason, cannot get married and we can. It would cheapen our own marriage and make it tainted.

What do you think is the root of people's resistance to same-sex marriage? I believe completely that the church is the source of all racism, sexism, and homophobia, and I think it is an insult to God. [Like the antimiscegenation and sexist laws of the past] all of homophobia was invented by the church. This is why it is the church's responsibility to fix this. Churches that promote fear and bigotry are not doing God's work, as far as I see it. It is a hierarchal agenda of keeping several groups down in order to feel superior. White, straight males have been the leaders of the clergy for a long time and have tried to keep down people of color, women, and the gay community. Some real people who really love God and want to be good Christians are listening to too much hate-filled speech of misguided, power-hungry pastors when they really should be praying. Like, really praying to find out what is loving and true and fair. Question your pastor, pray for answers more, examine your heart. The right answer is there.

But most people have been taught that whatever is said by religious figures is gospel. God gave us the ability to think for ourselves. I left the church for a long time because it smilingly promoted elitism and bigotry against groups who were just as worthy as the pastor and the self-righteous people who blindly listened and voted based on his words. Eventually I found out that there are plenty of churches that teach love and equality for all. Considering where I came from, I was shocked that there were God-people that were actively promoting love and equality for all. I am proud to go to a church that is a rainbow of races and orientations. All of us are there because we want to go to a church that welcomes everyone, and we want to serve and do the right thing. No one is judged at my church, because that is opposite of what we believe. It is opposite of what Jesus said. It is opposite of what God is about and opposite of what we as humans are when we are at our very best.

If Prop. 8 passes, what then? [Sighs] I, unfortunately, have gotten so used to the government being wrong and corrupt. The last eight years have been horrifying, so if Prop. 8 passes I would not be surprised. My heart has been broken repeatedly by the lying and the greed and the selfishness of late. I will be embarrassed as a Christian, knowing that others that label themselves as such are responsible for this catastrophe. If Prop. 8 passes it will break my heart. Literally; you will hear it. Not only for the injustice, the unconstitutional nature of it, but also on the personal level. How so many beautiful people will yet again be told, in this "nation of equality," that they are, in fact, not equal at all? That's why I wrote this letter, and that's why everyone -- no matter what their religious beliefs might be -- should vote no on Prop. 8.

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