Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Campaign Management

My eyes pop open at 5:30. Sure, I always wake up early but today I am on a mission that needs to be carried out in the cover of darkness.

Last night, I’d run into a fellow dog-walking neighbor. She was a lady I’d always liked. Part of the old Hollywood guard. She’d met her husband on the summer stock circuit back when she was a sassy redhead driving a new convertible ’57 Bel Air. Now her hair was still a flame red but in sparse chemical patches, covering the white.

We walked our dogs together through the hills in the fading golden LA twilight and chit-chatted about nothing in particular. Then we rounded a corner and saw it.

“Goodness,” she exclaimed, “A ‘Yes on 8’ sign. I haven’t seen one of those in this neighborhood.”

I too was stunned. Proposition 8 is our local initiative to take rights away from gays. Hollywood being legendarily liberal, you don’t see much right wing signage around to be sure.

As a talented friend points out in her ‘No on 8’ promo spots, 8 is the first proposition since prohibition that seeks to take rights away from people. I am naturally against it. Then I think of my gay friends and family – many of whom are married to each other – and can’t imagine a world without their unions being allowed. My uncle and his husband serve as the best example we have in our family of a healthy partnership and lasting love. They’ve been together longer than any of the hetero couples in our family. And their care and regard for each other is clear in their communication and they way they work through life’s issues together.

My father-in-law to-be, an old-school European gentleman, growled that gays shouldn’t be allowed to marry and adopt because the kids will get made fun of and that will be hard on them. I shot back with a litany of my own childhood teasings including my height, the way I sat in my chair and being ostracized for wearing the wrong brand of jeans. Kids will find something to pick on no matter who your parents are. What a gift to be raised by two loving parents rather than an abusive home or even a struggling single parent household.

Local right wingers and many shipped in from Utah tried to scare voters with ‘Yes on 8’ campaigns that stated ‘gay marriage will be taught in schools and your kids will be corrupted.’ What? Since when is marriage taught in schools at all? And how is expanding kids’ minds about the differences of the world corrupting? This bigoted lie was quickly shot down but I was sure there was a base of haters that was still clinging to it.

My friend’s promo spots end with the tag line: “Don’t be a douche, vote no on 8” and I could help but agree. Who, but a complete douche could vote yes on 8? It doesn’t hurt you or take away from you in any way. All it does it hurt others.

Beyond douche – straight up bigot was more like it. As my dog-walking friend and I took in the ‘Yes on 8’ sign, BIGOT was the only word flashing through my mind.

“I’m just surprised to see that sign here,” she murmured.

“I know,” I agreed, “what complete bigots!”

“What? Oh no, that’s not bigoted.” Now I was double-shocked and then I remembered the Bush/Cheney sticker on her Volvo as she continued: “I’m voting yes on 8.”

“Buy WHY?” I couldn’t help myself.

“I believe in the sanctity of marriage,” she punctuated the sentence with a raise of her patrician nose.

At this point I figured I’d better reign in the argument or we’d cease to be friends all together. “Let’s agree to disagree on this.” I offered. You have your sanctity, I thought. How does someone else having theirs hurt you in any way? Two people who love each other and want to make a life together should be allowed to marry. Period. End of subject. I bit my tongue. I figured it’s kind of like that pro-choice argument: if you are against abortion, don’t have one. Leave others to make what choice works for them. Why do people feel the need to legislate the lives of others?

We finished our walk with awkward, inane small talk and said goodbye at the corner. My solace was that my neighbor’s point of view would, with any luck, die out with her generation.

But I couldn’t leave it at that. It was blatantly offensive and bigoted to have that sign out. To me, it was akin to posting a KKK sign in your front yard. I had to do something.

The clock clicks to 5:31. In the cover of darkness, I scoot out of bed. I should be more tired but I’m adrenalized. I dress quickly in all black and sit at my desk where I make a sign with black and red markers.

“HATEFUL BIGOTS” it reads. I consider it for a moment. I worry about getting caught. Maybe the ‘HATEFUL’ is too much. Was this kind of statement free speech or vandalism? Could I be arrested? I cut the ‘HATEFUL’ off the paper, leaving just ‘BIGOTS’.

I’m worrying more now about possible repercussions. I cover my fingertips in tape so I won’t leave prints and cover the front of my page with packing tape. This way I’ll be able to smack it on the front of the ‘Yes on 8’ sign and they won’t be able to pull it off without ruining the sign. They’ll have to take the offensive sign down.

I grab my dog and off we go. It will be light soon and we have to hurry. My dog is surprised as I drag him past his favorite potty spots. My pulse pounds as I near the corner where the bigot house sits. I can still back out of this, I think. I can just throw the sign away - leave them with their hater mind set, no risk to me. No, I decide, I have to do this.

I round the corner. In the darkness, I can barely make out the backs of their cars and the plants in the front yard. Wasn’t the sign on the left? I can’t see anything. I hurry closer, straining my eyes.

Nothing. The sign is gone.

I pause for a moment looking all over. Nope, not moved to the other side. I consider taping my ‘BIGOTS’ sign to their trash can but decide that’s not exactly fair. A motion detector light flashes on and I walk on, crumpling my sign.

Maybe someone else beat me to the punch and they had to take it down. Maybe the realized how hateful their point of view was and changed their minds. Maybe. I can have hope, can’t I? I thank the universe for protecting me from whatever would have gone wrong had I carried out my plan. And I leave those haters to that same universe for reprimand.

My dog and I trot home through the rosy dawn and I look to election day when I will vote for hope. I have to trust that that statement will be powerful enough.

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Blogger Carlo said...

NO ON 8!

3:55 PM  

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