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My Election Day:
Campaigning for No on 8

My Election Day:
Campaigning for No on 8


Grey's Anatomy star T.R. Knight spent Election Day volunteering for No on 8, standing 100 feet away from poling places handing out palm cards and urging people to vote against the same-sex marriage ban. Here he recounts the well-wishers who brought cookies and cheered from cars and the Prop. 8 supporters who yelled and spat -- one even got violent. But Knight says all he ultimately felt was sadness when Prop. 8 passed.

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

The alarm on my cell phone wakes me with that annoying ring. Not the most pleasant way to start the day; I keep forgetting to change it. But I was wide awake. After a quick shower and throwing on clothes while playing "don't wake the boyfriend," I was out on the road driving toward Santa Monica. My day of volunteering at the polls for No on Proposition 8 had begun.

We all met shortly after 6 a.m. to get our polling place assignments and to be matched up with fellow volunteers. Having agreed to be a team captain, I was questioning my leadership ability in light of my sometimes pathological shyness. That is, until I saw my friend Melissa Fitzgerald. Besides being a wonderful actress, she is also fiercely political, smart as a whip, and a natural-born leader. She had just flown in to work on this campaign (she was working for Obama until she saw how close this race was), and by coincidence, we showed up at the same place. We joined up with a guy named Nathan and we were off to our first polling location.

Nathan also turned out to be a political phenom, and thankfully they both led by example. We introduced ourselves to the polling supervisor and informed them we would respect the required 100 feet distance from the polling place. We then held our signs high and passed out our palm cards. The three of us, two straight, one gay, working together to help inform people about protecting civil rights.

And that is what we did, we volunteers, all day. I had two more shifts at two more polling locations. We worked until the polls closed at 8 p.m. What will remain most in my memory from those hours are the extreme reactions from both sides.

The man who screamed "Homos and lesbians!" as he drove by, the older man who shouted at me to go back to West Hollywood (I live in Los Feliz), the woman who called us "abominations," the man who spat on the palm card we had handed him. There was a man who attacked a young female volunteer of ours at a nearby polling place at a Catholic church, shoving and pushing her and ripping up her palm cards. Every single supporter of Prop. 8 was so filled with anger and bile as they voiced their "support" to us, with the exception of one older gentleman, who engaged us in a very civil conversation.

One person in over 13 hours.

All of that was countered by the many straight families who were very vocal in their support of No on 8. The young man who joined us while on break from work (holding a sign he had downloaded from his computer), another guy who brought us cookies and juice in the morning, the husband and wife who brought us cappuccinos at nightfall, the drivers who honked in support (when others weren't flippin' us the bird), and the woman who hollered from her car, "Thank you for fighting for our family."

As we packed up for the evening the news came in. It looked as though Obama would be our next president. As my boyfriend and I drove home (he had joined us, even though he was sick as a dog), we listened to McCain concede the race. We made it to the television set just in time to witness the beautiful, truly awesome sight of the first family making their appearance on that Chicago stage. We heard a president-elect mention gay people in his acceptance speech. A night of many firsts.

But then the news of Proposition 8.

And then the news of Arizona, Arkansas, and Florida.

It is difficult for me to understand many aspects of this outcome. Why did other minorities vote in such high percentages in favor of Prop. 8? Why do they see our civil rights as so vastly different than their own? Why did the Yes on 8 campaign use such incredible deceit to win? They claim to come from a place of high morals. How do they justify that with fighting in such an immoral way? Why is religion impeding our freedom and equality?

As I write this, I just read the concession from No on Prop. 8. I find it difficult to put the sadness I feel into words.

I know that gay people will one day gain all the rights due us as American citizens. I know that the people who stand in our way today will be the people the majority will later mock as foolish and bigoted. I was speaking to an African-American friend tonight. She told me, "It takes so long. But people will come around. You have to continue to fight. It just takes a very long time."

I hope I can muster the patience and keep my anger focused so I can continue to fight. Fight clean. Fight with just the truth. And never let myself spew the kind of hate I encountered on that Tuesday in November as we peacefully fought for our civil rights.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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