Why we waited — too long

Pub date November 11, 2008
SectionNews & OpinionSectionOpinion

OPINION The California Supreme Court’s landmark ruling in May finally allowed same-sex couples their constitutional rights to marry. This was justice for the 4,000 same-sex couples issued marriage licenses in San Francisco from Feb. 12 to March 11, 2004. We were lucky to be one of those couples — but within five months the courts had voided all 4,000 licenses. I marched with hundreds to City Hall that day and angrily waved my nullified marriage license in the air. Del Martin and Phyllis Lyon provided a balm, saying with a laugh, "Oh well, guess we have to go back to living in sin."

Over the past four years, we’ve continued to wear our rings and celebrate our wedding anniversary. When the County Clerk’s office offered us a refund for our marriage license, we requested the refund go toward the city’s legal battle over same-sex marriage. It appeared that San Francisco had won that battle on May 20, 2008.

But we decided not to remarry until after the November election, when we would know if California agreed with the state Supreme Court. Attorney General Jerry Brown assured us that these wedding licenses could not be voided, but the memory of seeing couples in tears on March 12, 2004, when we had just been married the day before, was reason enough to wait.

In our hearts, we knew that Proposition 8 was likely to pass; since 1980 we have witnessed California consistently shoot itself in the foot by voting for petition-driven propositions.

In the past three months, one of us has devoted nearly 60 hours in an effort to defeat Prop. 8. The irony is that back in January, Troy was precinct captain for Obama in the California primary. He most likely talked to a good portion of voters out in the Sunset District who voted in favor of Prop. 8. And while the Mormon Church funded most of the Yes on 8 campaign, it is now clear that their message got through to many of California’s minorities, who turned out in record numbers to vote for Barack Obama. The No on 8 campaign should have targeted those communities; instead it only showed white people in its television ads. Now we are the ones with a dream deferred.

Marriage was not something we always believed in. When you’re used to outsider status, sometimes you learn to roll with the injustices perpetrated upon you. When Mayor Gavin Newsom and the city offered us a taste of it back in 2004, it didn’t take much to realize how much we were missing. The marriage itself was one of the best days of our lives, and having it voided was a very, very bitter feeling I won’t soon forget.

To those of you so motivated to vote for Prop. 8, we can simply tell you this: in a world of massive problems, of great economic and environmental woes we are only now beginning to feel acutely, can we bring it upon ourselves to actually join together with all of our brothers and sisters and confront all hatred with an idea of a greater social good? Can we imagine a world where our children aren’t judged by the gender of the ones they love, but by the content of their character?

Yes we can.

Victor Krummenacher is a musician and contributing designer for Wired magazine. Troy Gaspard is a surly activist and frugal trader.