Thursday, October 23, 2008

Vote No on Prop 8

Hi, you may or may not know me, but someone you know does, and that’s why you’ve gotten this letter. My name is Sean Campbell and I’d like to tell you a little about why I am against Proposition 8, the initiative that would reverse the state Supreme Court’s ruling and eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. If you support Prop. 8, I don’t expect you to undergo some magical conversion as a result of my few words. If I can only influence 1 vote, it will have been worth it. I would just ask that you give me a couple of minutes to explain why I oppose Prop. 8.

I am a straight man in my 20s. I like basketball and guitar and poker and my girlfriend. Most of my friends are straight, but I have a few gay friends like many people do. Growing up in Sacramento I knew some people I’d met and spent time with were different in some way from others but I didn’t really know what being gay or lesbian was until my parents told me. In school, boys teased other boys with words that you hear less nowadays but still hear from adults. I think my parents were relieved when I got in trouble for kissing a girl in kindergarten because they knew that life would be easier for me as a straight person. When I moved to San Francisco in 2000, some of my friends from back home made comments (and still do) about the reputation of the city. I was definitely surprised to see how there was a gay district and many gay-owned businesses. I didn’t really see why it was enough of a big deal that so many would mention it upon hearing where I lived.

After moving back here after college I began to work doing small business accounting. I’ve been lucky enough to establish a foothold and now have 4 clients, 3 of whom are gay. One of my former clients just got married to his partner of 12 years. As we became friends I remember him telling me how I was one of the only straight male friends he had. I thought that was kind of strange and told him so. He told me that he hoped that in my generation things would be different and there would be less division between gay people and straight people in terms of friend groups. He and his partner looked so happy at their wedding reception. Gay couples and straight couples came together to celebrate their union and wish them well. To me, it looked just like the traditional wedding I had recently attended; lots of happy people celebrating love and commitment. They asked for donations to the No on 8 campaign in lieu of gifts, so I donated $25.

Another designer I work with just married his partner of 25 years in a small, private ceremony. They own established businesses, a vacation home in Arizona and work in the same office. They are very different from each other, but very complementary in terms of personality. Their commitment and love is apparent, and they have been waiting to get married for years. I know they will enjoy growing old together. I congratulated them and in their honor I donated another $25 to the No on 8 campaign.

Just a couple of nights ago I received an email from two of my clients announcing their marriage, to take place next month before the election. They own established businesses, work from their home and have adopted two beautiful children. They are some of the best parents I’ve ever witnessed; their whole lives are designed around raising these children with good manners and good morals. They sacrifice so their children can have the best care and schooling possible. They also asked that no one buy them gifts but instead donate to the No on 8 campaign. I again donated $25 and resolved to write this letter for all of these friends of mine.

I believe in treating people equally under the law, no matter religion, ethnicity, sexuality, or any other attribute. It’s one of the most important and significant achievements of American democracy. Our country has gone through a lot in order to bring this ideal closer to reality, and in some respects (and for some people, like my friends) this project remains incomplete. I realize that for some people the concept of two people of the same sex being married seems strange or wrong. It used to be that in this country marriage between people of different races was considered strange or wrong, or illegal. Luckily, my parents didn’t care, and I’m the result of their marriage and love. I realize that our airhead Mayor Gavin Newsom has been on your television telling you things “whether you like it or not”. He’s not my friends’ best advocate, to be sure, and I regret his election every day when I hear about all our problems here in San Francisco and his total lack of will to solve them.

I don’t ask you to agree with or endorse same-sex marriage or go against your religious or personal beliefs. I ask that you honor that great American tradition, to live and let live. I ask that you decide that government doesn’t have a role in regulating private behavior between consenting adults. I ask that you live your life in your way and let my friends live theirs.

I want my friends to be able to express their love and commitment the same way you and I can. Please vote No on Prop. 8 on November 4th. Thanks for your time.
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