Cutting to the chase... California's Proposition 8 was passed on November 4th which enshrined in California's constitution the definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. Does anyone else find it extremely ironic that this proposition was heavily funded by Mormons, a group who for many years practiced polygamy?
But I digress. In my humble opinion, gays and lesbians should not be treated like second-class citizens. I respect their fight for equal rights. It is not all that different than the challenges African-Americans have had to fight for for decades.
So when Prop 8 passed, I was very disappointed with California. The California I know is extremely supportive of gay rights. So why did Prop 8 pass? Simple: supporters of Gay Rights and Gay Marriage were less motivated to vote than the Religious Right were. That's it. It all boils down to votes. Dare I say that the No on Prop 8 folks were lazier than the Yes on 8? Perhaps.
Clearly, gays and lesbians came out in full force on election day to vote "No" on Prop 8. But despite the large gay population in California, gays couldn't win this fight on their own. They needed supportive straight folks to vote with them. And I might think that the most supportive community would be younger Californians.
But what was young people's response to the loss of Prop 8? Facebook. I have received several invites to Facebook groups in support of gay marriage. It may be all fine and well to "support" gay rights. It is another thing entirely to DO something about it. And it is yet another thing to do something EFFECTIVE to fight for this cause.
I fear that Facebook, MySpace, e-mail petitions and the like will lull young people into a false sense of accomplishment in fighting for gay rights. Why do I say this? Well, it's simple. If you want to fight for gay rights, you have to do one of two things: convince elected officials to pass supportive laws and/or convince the public to take the single most important political action they can do to effect social change: VOTE for the change.
If you want to convince an elected official to change a law, here's what you have to do:
1. Visit your elected official's office and talk to him/her
2. Call them
3. Send an handwritten letter
Sorry to burst everyone's bubble but politicians don't accept e-mail petitions so they are really a waste of time.
Facebook, MySpace groups, etc. preach to the choir so they are largely ineffective at changing minds. And in fact I think that may be destructive in that people use these groups as political action by proxy. They may end up taking action online and feel they are changing the world yet they never vote or never get to know their elected officials.
For this reason I will never join these useless online groups as a means of making political change. If you want to change the world, get involved in the world. Don't waste your time in cyber-space. Your community exists just a few feet from your computer -- right outside your door.