Prop 8 passage disappoints

Rachel Schiff ’10 and her girlfriend were celebrating President-elect Barack Obama’s victory in Times Square on Tuesday night when Schiff got the news about Proposition 8. People were screaming with joy around her, she said, but things were looking bleak for gay marriage in her home state of California.

“It’s hard to celebrate when you feel like your rights are just taken out from under your feet,” Schiff said.

She was not alone. California’s passage of “Prop 8” — which changes the California Constitution to ban gay marriage and says that only marriages between a man and a woman are recognized in the state — put a damper on an otherwise-triumphant election for members of the Yale’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well as Californians who had voted against the measure.

Prop 8 passed with 52.4 percent of the vote in favor of the measure, compared to 46.6 percent of voters who opposed it. Despite this, the opposition group No on Prop 8 reported Wednesday that they believe more than 3 million absentee and provisional ballots have yet to be counted. If true, those votes would have the potential to reverse the outcome.

“I went to sleep smiling and screaming on Old Campus because I have a black president,” LBGT Coop Coordinator Ben Gonzalez ’09, who is from Desert Hot Springs, Calif. “I woke up today frowning and screaming in my room because my life, my love and my ability to be married is an impossibility in the place where I was born and where my home is.”

The impacts of the vote were even felt within Yale’s administration. Joseph Gordon, the acting dean of Yale College, said the status of his and his partner’s California-sanctioned marriage was uncertain in light of the vote. While he said he was saddened by Californians’ decision on Prop 8, he expressed hope for the country in light of Obama’s victory.

“On the one hand this election showed that the American people in general can triumph over a fear of difference,” he said. “And yet it also shows that they still have some fears remaining, that we have all as a people yet to overcome.”

Sophia Shapiro ’11, co-coordinator of the undergraduate lesbian organization Sappho, said she believes resistance to the measure’s passage was weaker than it could have been because gay marriage supporters did not believe Prop 8 had a chance of passing and therefore failed to mobilize significant efforts against the measure.

Religious and conservative groups, including the New Haven-based Knights of Columbus, pushed hard for Prop 8. A number of ads in favor of the proposition ran in California, including one depicting a young girl telling her mother that she learned “prince married prince” in school.

Additionally, Prop 8 was helped by high minority turnout, driven by excitement for Obama’s candidacy. Exit polls reported that 70 percent of African-Americans and more than half of Latino voters backed Prop 8.

Christine Jun ’12, who hails from Nevada County in northern California, was up until 4 a.m. discussing the measure with friends from home on the telephone. A large portion of southern California, including Los Angeles County, voted for the measure.

“We were all bashing on SoCal because SoCal’s very conservative in this aspect,” she said. “It’s ridiculous.”

Los Angeles resident Christina Huffington ’12 said she cast an absentee ballot in California — rather than registering in Connecticut and voting locally — largely because of Prop 8.

And given California’s status as a decidedly blue state, San Franciscan Austin Baik ’11 said he felt let down by the state.

“It really just sunk all my faith in everything that I just kind of held really dear about being a Californian,” Baik said.

But gay rights advocates say they will not give up after Tuesday’s vote. They filed three lawsuits on Wednesday asking the California Supreme Court to overturn Prop 8, calling it an illegal constitutional revision.

The Associated Press contributed reporting from Los Angeles.


  • Anonymous

    "Joseph Gordon, the acting dean of Yale College, said the status of his and his partner’s California-sanctioned marriage was uncertain in light of the vote."

    Wouldn't that make him Gordon's husband? That's an important distinction when you're talking about marriage.

  • Anonymous

    You say this only put a damper on the election for "Yale’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community as well as Californians who had voted against the measure," as though they were the only ones who had any investment in the outcome of Prop 8. The ban on marriage in CA, along with bans on marriage in AZ and FL and the ban on adoption in AK, has frustrated, saddened, even enraged many more of us who were hoping to see signs of an abatement of our nation's unnecessary and irrational hatred. The passage of Prop 8 hurts everyone, not just gays and Californians.

  • A Californian

    In reading your story and accompanying
    comments regarding the defeat of Prop. 8,
    I am saddened to hear your repeating of
    the mantra of "unnecessary and irrational hatred."
    Why is it always those who do not agree
    and think the same as you who are called
    the "haters?" Gays and lesbians are
    STILL accorded the rights of a civil
    union, and therefore, protection under
    the law, in the state of California. In
    other words, in all legal situations (i.e. right of survivorship, health
    benefits, etc.) gays and lesbians are
    protected. It is NOT a civil "right"
    to be married -- it is a CHOICE. Whereas
    one cannot "choose" the color of one's skin or mental status, rights are NOT
    being trampled. It is NOT discrimination
    to say that marriage is to be defined as
    between one man and one woman. When you
    open the door, what is to say that because a man loves two of his daughters
    that he does not have the "right" to marry them? How about one woman who
    loves three men? What about her "rights?" This is not about rights --
    it is about emotion, getting what you
    want and pushing a "tolerant" agenda --
    for everyone EXCEPT those who happen
    to disagree with your views, in which case you get to call them bigoted and

  • Alum

    Power to the people! Except when the people of the second most liberal state in the Union quite plainly reject our lefty canon, at which point we haul the people into court and strap on the jackboots. Ah well, just tell the people to sod off until its time to collect the tax money. Funny that blacks are the ones who throttled you here… first of many implosions of knee-jerk identity politics, I suspect. Wait until the thinly veiled lefty infatuation with Islamic extremists has an impact on Americans other than those who fight your wars. As it happens your beloved terror merchants also are not fans of gay marriage, to put it mildly.

  • James


    "It is NOT a civil "right"

    to be married -- it is a CHOICE."

    Is it not a civil right to love? Not by precedent nor law, no, but to actually go as far to say that life is somehow livable (or at all) without the expression of love, or passion, is going a step to far.

    All human beings love; it's a basic element in our humanity. To deny them the CULMINATION of love is akin to denying a terminal degree to the curious, or a lavish studio to the artistic. It's disgusting is what it is. "Love" for the most part, in its most altruistic form, seems to be untouched by law, so I see no reason why they should limit, beginning or end, the love and its full realization between two consenting, of-age homosexuals, bisexuals, etc., etc. '

    It is bigotry. Don't tell a track star he can run, get bronze or silver, but never gold. Why not? It's inequality. It's unfounded. It's wrong.

  • David

    How can you say election results are fine as long as Obama gets elected, but not fine if the very same voters ban gay marriage? It's like Tom Brokaw saying on David Letterman the other night, "the American people are very smart, as a group you can always count on them to get it right" and then in the very same breath saying they got it wrong when they voted for President Bush. Liberals ALWAYS want it both ways. Sorry, either we have free elections and you live with the results, ALL the results, or we have a dictatorship and no one gets a say about anything.