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Marriage Equality

No on Prop. 8
Campaign Reaches Out to Black Voters

No on Prop. 8
Campaign Reaches Out to Black Voters

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As marriage equality opponents galvanized in the Crenshaw area of Los Angeles to target African-American voters, clergy members and other activists gathered just miles away to fight against California's upcoming ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage.

Five African-American leaders came together in Los Angeles on Tuesday to speak out against antigay Proposition 8, reminding reporters that it's old-school to assume that the black community is more homophobic than others.

"People tend to look at the black community the way they look at any community -- they make a sort of sweeping brushstroke of who we are and what we are," said Doug Spearman, star of the TV series Noah's Arc and a board member of Equality California. "We're standing here.... We are as different as individuals can be. The point is, we've all come together in a common cause to do something. Whatever political party you support, it's about doing the right thing."

The conference was held at the Lucy Florence Cultural Center in L.A.'s Leimert Park -- despite the fact that the Yes on 8 campaign had conveniently called a conference starting at exactly the same time. "They always do this," muttered one organizer, pacing and checking his watch. But soon enough the people showed, the cameras rolled, and the speeches began.

The Reverend Eric Lee, president, Southern Christian Leadership Council of Los Angeles

The Southern Christian Leadership Council is the only organization that was founded by Dr. Martin Luther King, and the entire core of SCLS is about fighting for justice for all people and against discrimination. As a result of that, this issue of marriage equality requires that I speak out against this proposition, because anytime any group of people are denied the rights that are afforded to another group of people, it is an issue of a violation of civil rights, and we need to be clear about that.

The disappointment is that there is an attempt for people to impose a narrow theological view on relationships upon everybody in every situation. And no one has the right to do that. And for that reason I, along with the SCLC...stand by your side, and we will stand with you until justice is rendered, until you are ensured that your rights will never be denied by any group of people for any discriminatory reason. God bless you, and I am with you.

Art Cribbs, pastor, San Marino Congregational Church of Christ (San Marino, Calif.)

Just demographically, I am straight, I am married, I am a father of four children -- three girls and a son -- and I oppose Proposition 8 for all of those reasons. If I simply based my decision on TV commercials I would be for Prop. 8, but those commercials lie. The info that's being presented on TV, even from a law professor at Pepperdine University, are all based on lies and not facts. First of all, this is not about children and protecting children. The language in Proposition 8 that is put on the ballot has to do with marriage of a man and a woman.

I'm opposed to Proposition 8 because it puts discriminatory language in the California constitution. Although we have discriminated against persons because they were Chinese, Japanese, or Latino, we have not put discriminatory language in the state constitution.

I personally oppose Proposition 8 because I know what it feels like to have someone else tell me who I should be married to. I know the pain of that. I know the suffering that comes with that, and I do not believe it is right for a third party, detached and not involved, dictating who should love whom and how that relationship should be formed.

Finally, theologically, my faith tells me to treat people the way I want to be treated, to do no harm to anyone. And I have heard people say, "I am hurt by the language of discrimination that is being proposed for the California state constitution." If I don't want to feel pain, I am obligated not to impose pain on someone else.

The Reverend Vanessa Mackenzie, Church of the Advent (Mid City district, Los Angeles)

I am an Episcopal priest, and so I come to lend my voice and my heart and my body to this question of justice. As you know, in South Africa we had a constitution that began with the words "In humble submission to almighty God," and they had all these laws treating black people as subhuman and degrading them and taking away their God-given image. All of us are created in the image of God, and we reflect that image. I moved to this country eight years ago, and I am horrified that now they want to put in the constitution that it is right to discriminate. I think it's important to understand that in the struggle for justice we must be consistent.

One of the important things for me is that God made us for relationships. And in relationships, there are the gifts of grace, of love, of patience, of kindness, of gentleness, of perseverance, and no group has a monopoly on that. It's a God-given gift and it's a God-given right, and so I lift my voice.

Willie Pelote, assistant director of political action, American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees International

We represent about 175,000 workers in the state of California, both in the public and the private sector. I work with the people behind Proposition 8, and when they come into the legislature they talk about being "family first," but when you look at their policies -- not to increase the taxes to provide health care is the same as trying to deny gays and lesbians in Prop. 8. Not to come forward to make sure children of [temporary financial assistance program] CalWorks have child care is the same thing they're trying to deny gays and lesbians in Prop. 8. My union was the first one to [back] a bill to make sure in [the San Francisco Bay area's] San Mateo County that domestic partners would have survivor benefits. Proposition 8 would take that away.

Doug Spearman, actor, Equality California board member, cochair of the No on 8 finance committee

We have already won the right in California for same-sex couples to be married. What this ballot measure wants to do is to take away that civil right that we have fought and spent money and raised voices and changed hearts and minds in order to win. My friends made those arguments in front of the state supreme court. My coworkers, my neighbors, my churchgoing family raised money and awareness to make this a reality.

What we have to do is be vigilant and protect that right. We have to be constantly awake and aware and fight for something that the state constitution is built to protect -- and they want to dismantle it in order to take something away from us. When the supreme court authored their opinion, they effectively wiped away not just discrimination for gays and lesbians but they wiped away discrimination in the state of California in a way that it's never been addressed before. They did a brave and beautiful thing, making our lives safe, accountable, worthy, important in the state. We held up a light in California that shines for the entire nation: of truth, honor, dignity, and self-respect that every other state has a responsibility to turn toward or turn away from.

There are people here in the state that want to take away the right for Californians to marry. This is a civil right, and it's the beginning: What other right are they going to take away? Is there a woman in this room who wants to give up the right to vote? If we let them pass Prop. 8, it's the beginning -- it's not the end. Slowly but surely you will see your lives constrict. This is where the battle is. This is where we stand and fight. This is where we say, "We have won the right to be here. We pay our taxes. We send our children to school. We are good neighbors, good Californians. We're union members, truck drivers, doctors, and lawyers. We are the people that serve your food. We take care of your children, we take care of your elderly. And you want to deny us the right to be who we are while we do all of that."

The lines are very clearly drawn. If you let them take this, they will take more.

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

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