About four days ago, Grace Chu of Grace the Spot and AfterEllen.com, along with seven of her close lesbian blogger friends, issued a challenge to the queer online community: To help them raise $8,000 in 8 days against California Proposition 8, the proposition that would institute a ban in the California constitution against same-sex marriage. Grace and her friends then set up a site, 8 Against 8, for this purpose and urged their readers to contribute.
None of them were expecting the immediate and passionate response. Within 8 hours, they had raised $2,000. In 2 days, $4,000. Yesterday, they had already broken their goal. Now they’re calling on other like-minded people to continue raising money, especially Asian Americans. According to Grace, “The sky’s the limit!”
I was able to talk with Grace about her motivations about this and its relevance to the Asian American community, and why she decided to raise money against Proposition 8, even though she’s not a California resident. Asian Americans can provide a crucial voice for turning the tide against Proposition 8.
“Why we’re doing this: Proponents of Yes on Prop 8 have been releasing insidious ads, which have unfortunately started turning the tide against fairness and equality. The Los Angeles Times has a great article debunking the outright lies contained within those ads.
Asian Americans make up 13% of California’s population, so unlike in many other states, they have a formidable voice, especially in a ballot initiative such as Prop 8, which may be won or lost by less than a percentage point. 11% of voters are still undecided; thus, Asian Americans can provide the crucial number of votes.
California has the highest population of Asian Americans in the country, and thus, the highest population of Asian American gays and lesbians.
I just have one thing to add about Cat_D’s comment on your post, i.e. “For me personally, it was like looking into the faces of my relatives and seeing them shake their head at me and hearing them tell me you don’t deserve to have the chance to get married. I was reluctant to chant or chant loudly with the group because these were my elders, the people you were taught to respect.”
My response: Yeah, I can see how that would be emotional, but think of it this way. The alternative is looking into the faces of your gay Asian American brothers and sisters and telling them that you are reluctant to chant for them. Furthermore, there are a lot of older, even elderly Asian American gays and lesbians who never had a voice as a result of coming of age in a time where gays and lesbians were much less accepted, and they possibly grew up in an immigrant community, which is an even more socially conservative environment than that of the community at large. You can respect these elders by giving them a voice.
It is important that people outside of California get involved, because every state counts. History has shown that, when more and more states accept fairness and equality, such as invalidating laws against interracial marriage, it is like a tide that picks up steam and eventually, the entire country will embrace fairness and equality. Why is California important? California has always been at the forefront of any civil rights movement – speaking of interracial marriage, California overturned its law banning interracial marriage in 1948. It wasn’t until 1967 when the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated all laws banning interracial marriage in the country. California helped get the ball rolling back then, as it is now. And finally, the ballot initiative itself – it would eliminate a right that already exists. Furthermore, it is for a constitutional amendment, which cannot be touched by the California Supreme Court. A constitutional amendment is the closest thing to kryptonite, legally speaking.
Grace also pointed me to a statement by prominent Asian American legislators in California against Proposition 8, reminding us Asian Americans that not long ago, bigotry was put in California law against Asian immigrants. Do we really want to create such a scary precedent?