Thursday, November 13, 2008

Busted (?/!)

Last week, I posed a question to a group of impartial Southern Californians. I had triggered one of the dreaded red light cameras that are interspersed around Los Angeles. I saw the flash and everything. Was I screwed? Their responses gave me a inkling of hope... but not much. I tend to be a pessimist so I had already prepared for the worst. But there was always the chance...

When I got home from visiting a sick friend in the hospital (see? I'm a good person even though I'm crappy driver!), I found a special letter from the police department waiting on the bookshelf near the door.

Looks like I got my answer.

I tore it open - maybe there was some sort of ambiguity. Something I could fight against.
No such luck. Totally me. I could make out my parking pass hanging from the rear view mirror and the smears of bird crap on the windshield.

To add insult to injury, my cheery Obama/Biden magnet that was graciously given to me by a fellow Obama supporter in my work parking lot was clearly visible in the rear view shot. As was my No on Prop 8 bumper sticker.

You can't see this clearly from the scanned picture, but the light is clearly RED in this pic. And there I am, trying in vain to push my 4 cylinder enging across the intersection. I'm so busted.

I'd like to think that if I had been apprehended by an actual cop, I could have sweet talked my way out of a ticket. That I could have squeezed out some tears, begged for mercy, etc. But the cops in that area are heartless and are sticklers for the law. What assholes. I got my first ticket in Los Angeles about 100 yards from the spot of this little incident. It was an anti-gridlock ticket for momentarily blocking the intersection in rush hour. Never mind that I was never actually in the path of oncoming traffic or that two other cars were in the same predicament. That baby was $200. Chump change compared to this fine of $380. And I might have to suffer the humiliation of traffic school. lol

On the upside, I have a fetching souvenir which will be my new Facebook profile pic. And I provided Mr. Insomniac with a hearty dose of laughter when he saw the photos. So I guess there's that. ;)

Friday, November 7, 2008

Time for action

On Friday I  finally saw the footage of Barack Obama's acceptance speech.  And it was amazing.  I was struck at the faces of the folks in Grant Park - exuberant joy, eyes wide open with hope.  So many people.  So many different people.  All united in this one purpose.

And then when Michelle Obama and their daughters joined him on stage and clasped hands, I literally swooned. An African American First Family.  How beautiful.  You can see some candid shots of the Elect-First Family in Barack's flickr account.  Can I just say how much I love the idea that he has a flickr account?  lol  I didn't even realize it, but I caught myself grinning like a simpleton as I watched the slideshow.  I'm so enamored with them it's ridiculous.

I believe Obama when he says
"If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible; who still wonders if the dream of our founders is alive in our time; who still questions the power of our democracy, tonight is your answer.


It’s the answer spoken by young and old, rich and poor, Democrat and Republican, black, white, Latino, Asian, Native American, gay, straight, disabled and not disabled – Americans who sent a message to the world that we have never been a collection of Red States and Blue States: we are, and always will be, the United States of America."

And I'm going to hold him to it.  It's time to get writing.  From his President-Elect transition website

An American Moment
The story of the campaign and this historic moment has been your story. It is about the great things we can do when we come together around a common purpose. The story of bringing this country together as a healed and united nation will be led by President-Elect Obama, but written by you. The millions of you who built this campaign from the ground up, and echoed your call for the change you wanted to see implemented by the Obama Administration - this process of setting up that new government is about you.
This transition is about selecting a new staff and agenda that will help reclaim the American dream and bring about positive lasting change to this country. In order to do that, we want to hear from you.

Tell us your story and the issues that matter most to you. Share with us your concerns and hopes. – the policies you want to see carried out in the next four years.

Copy and paste your message and send it to Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer if you're in California.  Or if you're not.  Or check here and send it to your own Senator.

Find your representative and send it to him/her as well.  

Drop a line to some of the companies that took a stand.  Let them know you appreciate their effort and hope that they will continue to fight.
or some of the celebrities/VIPs that lent their image and/or money to the cause:
  • Magic Johnson
  • Samuel Jackson
  • Ellen DeGeneres
  • Jerry Yang, founder of Yahoo
  • Evan Williams, CEO, Twitter
  • America Ferrera, Tony Plana and Ana Ortiz (I tried my damnest to find contact info for these folks.  Failed)
  • Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook (couldn't find an email - but she is on Facebook, so I sent my message via a friend fequest.  Sneaky... lol)
  • Or some elected officials.  Or organizations or newspapers.  For a complete list of supporters, you can check out this page.

Okay, now that you're done typing and are all fired up... take to the streets.

On Saturday, November 15, there will be Prop 8/gay marriage protests in many American cities.  Check out to see if something's in your neck of the woods and go.  Be a witness to the cause and take comfort in the knowledge that there are thousands upon thousands of people who agree with you.

Million Gay March has opportunities for volunteering and has a list of events/protests in California.  

Save up money and head to Washington DC in  2010 with Means of Equality.
In the summer of 2010, we will march the streets of our nation's capitol for the advancement and protection of homosexuals rights as human beings, as indviduals, as a collective unit of persons who have been denied the fruition of marriage and equal protection under the law. It is our mission that the nation understand that it is unconsitutional for states to ratify or amend their constitution to redefine marriage as solely between man and woman. The United States of America was founded based on the principle that we are free to worship as we see fit. Therefore, we feel it is unconstitutional to base the views of one religious unit to define how other sects are to live. We as a people ask for marriage to become a possiblity and ask for equal protection under the law. We feel this could be achieved by instituting a new Civil Rights Act to include equal protection for homosexuals by prohibiting discrimination in employment, public accomodations, housing, credit, and education.

But the most important thing that you can do is to talk to the people around you.  And actually not just talk, but to listen.  Listen to their concerns, their fears, their reluctances.  And then respond accordingly.  There are some people that won't be moved... not until  they see first-hand how same sex marriage doesn't spell the end of civilization as we know it.  And even then they still might not be convinced.  But there are others that might be swayed by reason - and it's these that we need to focus on.

So let us go forth and spread the gospel. 

Thursday, November 6, 2008

West Hollywood Protest

Pictures from the West Hollywood Protest on Wednesday, Nov 5 at 7pm.  

Protesters lined the street of Santa Monica Blvd with homemade signs. Honking cars responded.

The rally was attended by hundreds of people.  We listened to people talk - campaign leaders, religious leaders, members of from pro-LGBT people of color alliances.  We chanted and waved flags.

But I had mixed feelings.  For starters, where where these people weeks ago?  Days ago?  D, one of the leaders at the We Ho office was in charge of visibility efforts.  For weeks he organized folks to stand on the street corner of Santa Monica and Robertson.  I went one Monday and there were about 10 of us.  A, a volunteer who took weeks off work to devote all her time to the campaign was so angry that she turned away and roamed the streets of West Hollywood for two hours.  The people that I had worked alongside with in the evenings appeared shellshocked at the hundreds of people around them.  So many more phone calls could have been made, murmured A before took off.  

And then one of the speakers started blaming African Americans who came out in support of Obama for voting Yes.  And mentioning Latino men who stood across the street from LGBT folk with Yes on 8 signs and hurled faggot at them.  Or an African American woman that told a lesbian volunteering at the polls that she didn't deserve rights.  And I was angry at what had happened to these people, but I was also angry at the divisiveness that these comments inspired.  I don't know what the campaign strategy was, but if we didn't reach out to certain communities, then that's on us.  We need to take a page from the Obama playbook and truly build a coalition of supporters.  Straight people, people of all faiths, all racial/ethnic backgrounds.  The LGBT community can not do this by themselves...

I think we're on to a great start.  I've been hearing lots of outrage from a lot of people.  This is good.  Prop 8 will be our rallying cry.  It's sad to think that we needed a practice run (defeating Prop 8 would have been such a monumental victory), but next time we will be ready.

And for non-sucky pictures, you can check out this photo gallery in the LA Times.

A letter from the No on 8 officials

Dear Insomniac,

We had hoped never to have to write this email.

Sadly, fueled by misinformation, distortions and lies, millions of voters went to the polls yesterday and said YES to bigotry, YES to discrimination, YES to second-class status for same-sex couples.

And while the election was close, and millions of votes still remain uncounted, it has become apparent that we lost.

There is no question this defeat is hard.

Thousands of people have poured their talents, their time, their resources and their hearts into this struggle for freedom and this fight to have their relationships treated equally. Much has been sacrificed in this struggle.

While we knew the odds for success were not with us, we believed Californians could be the first in the nation to defeat the injustice of discriminatory measures like Proposition 8.

And while victory is not ours this day, we know that because of the work done here, freedom, fairness and equality will be ours someday. Just look at how far we have come in a few decades.

Up until 1974 same-sex intimacy was a crime in California. There wasn't a single law recognizing the relationships of same-sex couples until 1984 -- passed by the Berkeley School District. San Francisco did not pass domestic-partner protections until 1990; the state of California followed in 2005. And in 2000, Proposition 22 passed with a 23% majority.

Today, we fought to retain our right to marry and millions of Californians stood with us. Over the course of this campaign everyday Californians and their friends, neighbors and families built a civil rights campaign unequalled in California history.

You raised more money than anyone believed possible for an LGBT civil rights campaign.

You reached out to family and friends in record numbers -- helping hundreds of thousands of Californians understand what the LGBT civil rights struggle is really about.

You built the largest grassroots and volunteer network that has ever been built -- a coalition that will continue to fight until all people are equal.

And you made the case to the people of California and to the rest of the world that discrimination -- in any form -- is unfair and wrong.

We are humbled by the courage, dignity and commitment displayed by all who fought this historic battle.

Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for equality is not over.

Because of the struggle fought here in California -- fought so incredibly well by the people in this state who love freedom and justice -- our fight for full civil rights will continue.

Activist and writer Anne Lamott writes, "Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don't give up."

We stand together, knowing... our dawn will come.

***** And can I just say, I am so amazed by the nobility of the legal fight that is sure to come.  One of the attorneys spoke at the protest rally and I just am so thankful for the folks that are gearing up for this.  I tried to get a "Let's Go Lawyers!" chant going, but it fell flat. :/  *****

Election Night Debrief

So many things are going through my head.

I'll start with the Election.  At around 7pm as I sat huddled in the cargo area of a beat-up Subaru in West Hollywood Park, I received a text message alerting me to the fact that Obama's win was imminent and that as a dispatcher, we needed to change plans immediately.  We were to pull the 60 people we had that were standing at polling places around West Hollywood and Beverly Hills and instruct them to start knocking on doors around the neighborhood.  We were to call 10 people and make sure that they had voted.  Jo and I looked at each other - could we actually ask folks to do that?  Would they be willing?  After all, they didn't sign up for this.  They weren't trained for this.  We started dialing.

L was willing.  He found a condo complex and started pushing buttons on the call box.  He found one woman who hadn't voted yet and he told her that her polling place was right across the street and that there were no lines.  She voted.   Ja, another dispatcher, called a volunteer that had worked with us on the morning shift (6:30 to 10am) to ask him to call 10 of his friends.  Ja reported to me and Jo that "for the first time in my life, I actually hung up on a volunteer."  You see, the volunteer was at a dinner party.  And couldn't be bothered to call 10 people.  

So Ja, Jo, and I dialed and waited in the parking lot of West Hollywood Park.  An hour later, we heard cheers and car horns honking from around the neighborhood.  The wind had picked up and was blowing debris around with ferocity.  We waited for our volunteers to return from their shift.  Group by group they did and as they returned their materials, many of them kept a flyer or two as a momento.  We chatted, thanked them, and gave them hugs.  I struggled to hold back tears as I looked at their hopeful faces and told them how much their efforts meant to me and to our cause.  S checked in just when McCain's concession speech was on and we all listened together. 

Jo left for his home.  Ja and I were going to the results party.  He looked dazed - his eyes were wide, watery.  I said, "well, what now?"  He said, "I don't know."  Ja is from Texas and has been living with another volunteer for months during this campaign.  He was supposed to go back to school this fall in New York where his girlfriend of 3 years lives, but decided to stay on with the campaign.    

When we got to the party at the Music Box, a line stretched out of the building.  As volunteers/staff, we were supposed to be guaranteed admission, but since it was also open to public, there was no more room inside.  When I complained, the bouncer pointed to the line of people and said, those people want to get in as well.  I can't let anymore people in.  "Look at them!  They're wearing high heels, skirts, makeup, and suits!  Their hair looks nice.  Those are not volunteers.  This is a volunteer", I said, gesturing to my unkempt windblown hair, XL sized campaign shirt that hung to my knees, and sneakers.  I stood outside with staff members and we grumbled and claimed bullshit.  Many went to another staff member's home to watch the results there.  They ended up spending the night.  Others of us were ushered inside by a higher up.  We waited and watched for the results from San Francisco and Los Angeles to come in.  

I left at 11pm.  At that time we were behind five points.  I went home, found Mr. Insomniac  brushing his teeth and burst into tears.  Then I went to bed.  Somewhere inside I was happy about Obama, but his victory was never in any doubt for me.  At any rate, the overwhelming disappointment drowned out any feelings of joy.  I felt cheated.

Oh, and did I mention that around 7:30pm I received a robocall on my cell phone that played a snipet of a speech by Obama where he declared that a marriage is between a man and woman to thunderous applause?  Yeah.  A Yes on Prop 8 campaign call.  Never mind the fact that Obama has condemned Prop 8.  

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Thank you...

To the 3,700 volunteers in Los Angeles county who showed up to work on election day.

To the 180 volunteers who went through my dispatch site.

To L, who was threatened with arrest

To K, who brought us homemade signs.

To R and the other all-day volunteers who arrived at our location at 6am and left at 8:30pm.

To A, who had the cops arguing with her even though she was well beyond the 100 feet perimeter

To S, who had a poll worker point a finger in her face in a threatening manner

To C and C, who roved between our 21 polling locations with coffee and snacks for the folks who were braving an unseasonably chilly evening.

To Ad, who was being harassed by poll workers

To J and J, my fellow dispatchers.

To R, who gave me my 4:30am wakeup call.

To T, who dealt with cops that accused him of being threatening and harassing.

To the folks who clarified that a Yes vote did not support same sex marriage.

To C, T, and all the others who have been living in homes away from home for the past five months. To J who took the semester off. All to devote as much energy as possible to fight for equality.

To A who was able to converse with voters in her native language to help them understand the proposition.

To the staff at the West Hollywood Office.

To the volunteers that knocked on doors when Obama's victory was certain at 7pm and we needed to get the vote out.

To everyone that devoted their time to a cause that was so much bigger than themselves.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


And so it begins...

I (with two other people) will be heading up a No on Prop 8 dispatch location on the Westside of Los Angeles. Which basically means that I will oversee over 180 volunteers, place them at polling sites, check in, report back to the boiler room, visit over 20 polling sites, etc.

I will get a wake up call at 4:30. So in about 4 hours. And then my first task is to call 30 volunteers so they meet me at the dispatch location at 6:30. Good times indeed.

I hope I have enough energy to get through the victory party!

Happy voting everyone!

Now I have to try and sleep somehow.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

No on 8 rally in Long Beach, CA

Today I went to a rally for folks voting No on Prop 8 in Long Beach, California.  It was a lovely fall day - a gentle breeze from the ocean rustled the palm trees, the sun shone brightly all was well.  The rally was in a local park, across the street from the Pacific Ocean.

The stage was set with colorful balloons...

and plenty of yard signs...

There were several pooches in attendance.  Many like Penelope, a 7 month old Great Dane puppy, were emblazoned with stickers.

There were lots of supporters, many with home-made signs.

Folks from the No on Prop 8 campaign were there in full force, signing up volunteers for Election Day.

A gentleman sang the "Star Spangled Banner", pausing after the phrase "land of the free" to great applause, and the rally was on!  Guest speakers included the mayor of Long Beach, candidates for Congress, No on Prop 8 campaign staff, religious officials, and more.  It was really inspirational and a great motivator for me.

It was nice to see all the couples.  A few wore anniversary buttons that announced how many years that they've been together.

The finale made me tear up...  A couple got married at the end of the rally.  It really brought home what we are fighting for.  Best wishes to the new legally married couple!