Above is a KMPH News Video which covered tonight’s events. The text below is a copy of the speech I (Chris Jarvis) gave at the Eve of Justice Rally in Fresno on March 4th, 2009. Thank you to all those who came out in the cold and drizzling rain to mark this moment with us, as well as to all the speakers and participants. We had an amazing turn out! Photos of the event are included. Click on the images to enlarge…
Click on the following link for ABC 30 local coverage…LOCAL ABC 30 EVENING NEWS COVERAGE
We stand, again, at a monumental moment in our history. It’s more than frustrating for us to have to watch once again as others debate whether we are worthy of equal citizenship in America. We’ve witnessed a lot of history for LGBT Americans in the last year. Last June we celebrated as we were granted the legal right to marry the person of our choice in California, and last November, our spirits were momentarily crushed by the passing of Proposition 8.
I’ve always believed, my entire life, that I would see LGBT Americans granted equal citizenship. I can’t say I ever thought it would still be up for debate in the year 2009. This inequity in the very principals of the foundation of America is shameful. That our equal rights must be held up to the "will of the people" is shameful. It is a blight on the integrity of this nation.
The vast majority of those who voted for the passage of Proposition 8 did so based on a religious belief. Yet these same people will stand tall when the American flag rises, put their hands over their hearts and swear allegiance to this country. Clearly they don’t understand that while you’re free in America to believe anything you want, when you step into a voting booth your duty is to honor the values of this country, not your god, and to honor the principals that all Americans are created equal. To use your beliefs to strip civil rights from others just because you don’t like the idea, is un-American, and in my opinion, traitorous.
On June 17th, 2008, I legally married my partner James in these very offices, as did many other couples. It was a day I’ll never forget, not just because I was able to marry, but because there was literally joy on these streets. The happiness shared here among all of us was awe inspiring. For the first time in my life I felt like an American citizen. I did lose something on that day, however. I lost a lot of my passionate anger about the injustice that LGBT Americans face on a daily basis. Not all of it, by any stretch of the imagination, but some of it, and I was relieved to have it gone.
But on November 5th, when it was fairly clear we’d lost the war, it all came back and then some. My passion was reinvigorated and my anger returned, as I believe it did for all of us. It was one thing to be in a continuing battle to gain equal rights. It was another thing to have those rights granted and then only five months later to have them stripped away. It was time for the gloves to come off.
And so we marched and shouted. We wrote and we blogged and created websites and made videos and we came out and we boycotted. I was certain, that despite the failures of the "organized" campaign for equality, that we would now move forward with a different perspective, that we would be more confrontational, that we would directly address the lies that were hurled against us, and that we would no longer have a desire to form alliances with the very groups and organizations who claim to be Christian while they gather millions of dollars to enshrine our inequality.
I can’t say that I’m confident this is happening. I can’t say that the movement is any less passive than they were up to the election in November. I can’t say that I’m sure we’re not going to slip right back to the comfort of the back of the bus, where no matter what they throw at us we shrug it off, instead of picking it up and throwing it right back.
We need to stop with this notion that in order to gain equality we have to convince Americans that we’re worthy. Just as every civil rights battle before us was not about the approval of the masses, neither is this one. It’s not about being liked. I guarantee you that after we are granted equal rights for good, that other will still look down on us, spew hatred at us, beat us, and on occasion kill one of us just for who we are. We are not fighting for approval, we are fighting for the equal rights we should have had from the very beginning
I don’t approve of candlelight vigils. They are a bright exhibition of reluctance to fight back. I am against moments of silence. They represent everything we should not be at this point, and that is quiet. They send the message that we are willing to sit at the back of the bus and accept our inequality. They should no longer be a part of any civil rights action.
There is no valid debate about whether homosexuality, bisexuality, transgender sexuality, or any shade in between, is natural. The data is in. We are all natural. There is no valid debate about the foundation and principals of America. The data is in. America is built on the equal rights of all of its citizens. All of them. The only requirement is that you are American.
Tomorrow, the California Supreme Court will hear arguments concerning whether Proposition 8 should be overturned. It will be difficult to listen to another debate about our validity as Americans. I would love to say that I’m sure we will win. I can’t. I’ve been here too many times before. Logic is not something Americans excel at, but let’s hope that the court, as they did before, will rule based on the principals of America. I can say that while my head isn’t certain we will win, my heart is.
But if we don’t win, I hope that our side will realize that civil rights are never won by being so respectful of those who vote based on their beliefs instead of on the cores of American principals. I hope that we will stop reaching out to unreasonable Americans, and instead reach out to the courts. Legally, in time, we have a slam dunk, but as a populace, Americans are not historically known for being logical or fair minded when it comes to those who don’t fit into the majority mold.
Do not listen to anyone telling you that marriage is not the issue we should be hanging our flag on. Do not listen to anyone who says since they don’t want to get married they don’t see the need for all this debate. Those people do not understand what we are fighting for. We are not fighting to get married, we are fighting for the right to get married. We are fighting for the equality of choice. As American citizens we should all have the same choices, and until of us do, we will keep on fighting.