This I Believe

Ellie - Twentynine Palms, California
Entered on November 9, 2008
Age Group: 50 - 65
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This I Believe

My father was a first generation Polish American and my mother is descended from Mary Ball, the mother of George Washington, first President of the United States of America. When my parents married after the end of WWII, my father had won a purple heart and a bronze star for his actions at Normandy and then at the Battle of the Bulge. Horrified by the effects of prejudice they saw in the German concentration camps, they declared that their children would be raised free of the prejudice that had caused the suffering of the Second World War. They worked hard to make sure that we, their children, judged other people by the content of their character instead of condemning them for their minority status.

This week the hearts and families of thousands of Californians were declared disposable by a majority of California voters. As California’s voters cast ballots in favor of the rights of California’s farm animals, they also cast ballots destroying the civil rights of thousands of tax-paying, law-abiding California citizens who just happen not to be heterosexual. The death of civil rights for gay and lesbian Californians was funded by the Mormon Church and its members with strong support from the Catholic Church and its members and, lesser but vital support, from evangelical religious groups.

This morning, I stood in peaceful protest in front of the Latter Day Saints’ temple in Yucca Valley, California, a dusty desert town that supported, by a margin of more than 70 percent, the ballot proposition that suspended the civil rights of non-heterosexual Californians. As a aging bleached-blonde in a shiny new red suv rolled into the temple parking lot, she came to a stop and rolled down her window to yell at the protesters, “Don’t you understand? It’s over!” Is she ever in for a surprise…

It is not over. I believe that now, as surely as I believed it was not over when as a child my parents took me to march for civil rights with Martin Luther King. It is not over, not by a long shot. The work of protecting the civil rights of all Americans will not over until the civil rights of all Americans are safe from destruction by an ignorant and fearful populace. Many Americans, homosexual and non-homosexual, understand that the Constitution of the United States was created to protect citizens in the minority from unfair and punitive treatment at the hands of the majority. This is the heart of freedom in America. This I believe. I believe that my grandchildren will be amazed to find out that there was once a time when it was illegal for non-heterosexual people to get married in California, just as there was once a time when a man who was half African-American could only dream of becoming President of these United States. This I believe.