Queer Town: The Personal Choices of Proposition 8

Election Day comes tomorrow, and I'm sitting on the couch in my West Hollywood apartment on an early Monday morning with Antony & the Johnsons playing on the stereo. The volume is not too loud, Antony sings in a quivering voice about dreams coming true, and, after covering Proposition 8 for the past six months, I'm feeling surprisingly relaxed, despite new polls showing a close vote for the passage or defeat of the ballot measure that seeks to eliminate the right of gays and lesbians to legally marry in California.

Queer Town: The Personal Choices of Proposition 8

A "No on 8" supporter holds up a sign on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood on Sunday afternoon.

On Saturday, the Los Angeles Times pinned at least part of the reason for the tightened numbers on the public's "conflicted" feelings over same sex marriage. Which may be true, especially since TV ads from both campaigns of the Prop. 8 fight have been pulling minds and hearts in opposite directions. But now, with only 24 hours until the polls open, voting "yes" or "no" for the ballot measure, as far as I see it, isn't a complicated decision.

Despite all the accusations and arguments from political consultants, preachers and priests, and gay activists, a "yes" vote means one thing: You are taking away a person's legal right to marry another person. If you vote "no," you keep that right intact. The personal ramifications of that vote, though, extend far beyond Election Day.

On November 4, you are telling yourself, your children, your grandchildren, your cousins, your friends, your business associates, and every American that you stand for one thing or another, and it will be a legacy that you will leave for generations to deal with.

With a "yes" vote, you are saying that you believe the laws of California and the United States should single out one group of people for second class citizenship, that all people--and this includes your children and grandchildren, cousins and in-laws, nieces and nephews...present and future--are not created equal and should not be treated equal under the law. A "no" vote says that you want the beliefs and laws that founded this country to be upheld and strengthened, which is what the California State Supreme Court, led by a Republican chief justice, ruled on May 15, 2008.

Whatever the outcome may be, you will have to live with your vote for the rest of your life. It will become a decision that will partly define and inform you as an uncle or aunt, father or mother, grandfather or grandmother, cousin or in-law, whether you realize it or not, whether you own up to it or not.

In the end, your vote isn't so much about which side you are on, but what kind of person you see yourself as or want to be. We live in a free society, thankfully, so as you stand alone in a voting booth on Tuesday, that choice, and the legacy you leave, will be no one's but your own.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at


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