We Should Engage in Thoughtful, not Divisive Dialogue on Anti-Family Votes

Dear Families and Friends,

LGBT families are at a crossroads. Nationwide we have made great
change over the last several years, participating in our
communities, showcasing our families’ strength and diversity. In
2006, millions of people watched our “world debut” as we included
ourselves in a great American tradition—the White House Egg Roll. We made our families visible in
new and productive ways, taking the reigns of the conversation away
from ideologues and bigots who work tirelessly to tear our families

Yet we know our march toward equality is not
The outcomes of the election on November 4, 2008
confirmed that reality yet again, as a majority of voters in
Arkansas, Arizona, Florida and California chose to treat us
unequally in family rights and recognition.

I understand that these defeats were painful and tapped into a
fundamental anger and frustration that we (and our children)
continue to be treated as second class citizens. These votes have
evoked a nationwide response the likes of which has not been seen
in many years from the LGBT and allied community.

In the aftermath of the vote and these protests, our community has
also been divided and divisive. From blaming campaign leaders, to
second-guessing strategy, to unfairly characterizing communities of
color, to specifically lashing out at the African-American
community, we have taken our sense of hurt and betrayal out on the
wrong people and wrong communities.

We at Family Equality Council condemn the fractious and
divisive behaviors and especially decry the racial scapegoating
that has characterized the post-election analysis. We urge our
supporters and all LGBT parents to work to educate themselves and
those in our community about who we are and what really are the
facts on the Prop 8 vote.

  • The LGBT community is multicultural, including wide variations
    in our racial, ethnic, and religious makeup. Any discussion about
    “blacks versus the LGBT community” or “Christians versus the LGBT
    community” stems from an illogical premise and gives ground to the
    ideologues and bigots who work very hard to define our communities
    and pit us against each other. A white male and black male couple
    raising Latino children in the Episcopal Church hardly knows where
    to start in the “us versus them” conversations happening about
    Proposition 8.
  • The numbers being used to start conversations about race and
    the Prop 8 vote are flawed. No on knows exactly how any person or
    group voted on Election Day. The numbers we see are based on polls.
    Due to the widespread under-sampling of communities of color in
    these polls, figures related to how people of color voted on
    Proposition 8 often carry wide margins of error. A well-respected
    poll of 700 likely voters carried a margin of error of 3.9%
    overall, which is common, while for the Latino and Asian subsets of
    respondents the margin of error was 10% and for African Americans
    14% due to small samples for these particular groups. In
    other words, a legitimate conversation about who voted and how
    cannot begin with the poll numbers currently being floated
  • “Us Versus Them” responses look backwards, not forwards. Even
    for those in our community who feel fervently that the people of
    color vote in California tipped the scales on Proposition
    8—neglecting to acknowledge or reconcile the millions of whites
    who voted for it—miring ourselves in divisive conversations and
    entrenching assumptions at a time when so much change is possible
    does not move us towards a world in which all families are
    recognized, respected, protected and celebrated.

Now is the time to question why anyone voted for Proposition 8, as
well as Proposition 102 in Arizona; Amendment 2 in Florida and Act
1 in Arkansas. If there are particular reasons for yes votes, we
need to know what they are so we can address them moving

We all fundamentally believe in the equal worth and value of our
families. And we have all changed at least one, two, three or more
hearts and minds in our lifetimes. To change these hearts and
minds, we’ve had to meet people where they are at. We’ve had to be
patient and take time, while also standing firm in our beliefs. Now
as the world watches, we must change hearts and minds on a wider
scale than ever before. The task before us is not simple, but it is
vital for the health and happiness of our families, especially our
children, for whom we wake up and work so hard each day.

Questioning who voted for anti-family measures and why is
appropriate and necessary, but casting stones is unhelpful and
We ask our supporters to engage in thoughtful
dialogue about these issues and to reach out to Family Equality
Council for advice and support. Our job is to ensure that your
family has all the resources you need to be the best, safest,
happiest, most protected family you can be. Join us in changing the
tone of this debate and moving our families forward.

For our families,

Jennifer Chrisler
Executive Director
Family Equality Council

P.S. Start moving our families forward today–participate in our
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