By Jane A. Bassett
Proposal 2 has passed in Michigan. Congratulations. Let me re-cap exactly what you have accomplished. The first result is that gay marriage is now illegal in Michigan – of course it was already illegal before Proposal 2 passed, but that is just a minor detail. You have also succeeded in banning civil unions, and anything a judge might interpret as being a union “for any purpose.” You have jeopardized the health insurance of many of Michigan’s working families – including both gay and straight couples and their children, many of whom will need to apply for Medicaid to cover basic health care needs. You have sent a clear message to many talented and hard-working people that Michigan does not welcome them. You have further divided an already sharply divided country and you have officially sanctioned discrimination against gays.
But, let me tell you what else you have accomplished. You have galvanized the gay community and the people who care about us in a way that I have NEVER in my adult life ever experienced. People who have never worked for a cause have devoted hours to helping defeat the Proposal. People who have not donated money in the past have dug deep in their pockets to help fight this hateful measure. These people will not be slinking away to their relegated status as second-class citizens. You have provided an opportunity for many to emerge as leaders in the gay community. You have provided a forum within which the community can fight prejudice and educate the public about our families. Greater understanding will lead to greater respect and eventually to the legal protections that every person in our country should be able to enjoy equally.
You have also provided many of us with opportunities to heal old rifts with friends and extended family members, to educate our neighbors and co-workers, to ask for and receive the help of our faith communities – allowing each of them to emerge as allies with us as we face down discrimination. You have given us an opportunity to defend ourselves and be visible, something many of us would not have chosen to do unless forced. We have been jousted out of our routine buy-a-house, make-a-living, have-a-family, American lives and pushed into the center of controversy. You have forced us to respond.
So, thank you. Thank you for making my relationship with my parents more open and supportive. Thank you for creating an opportunity to work toward real and positive change for future generations. Thank you for providing a framework within which I can reaffirm who I am and what is important to me. Thanks for opening the discussion … we will keep talking.