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I'd like to extend my heartfelt gratitude to everyone who voted NO on Proposition 8, who donated to the campaign, who volunteered their time, who talked to friends and family, who sent e-mails, who reached out to their online social networks, who posted blogs, who left comments on sites across the Internet, and/or who sent good vibes to the people of California. Your efforts are irrefutable evidence that we all have innate qualities of compassion, understanding, and love and that we all can reach across cultural divides to stand up for what's right, even if it doesn't seem to affect us personally.

Proposition 8, which aimed to ban same-sex marriage, has passed. (It would take a miracle the scope of Joseph Smith's golden plates for the remaining uncounted ballots to make a difference.) California, along with Arizona and Florida (which had similar measures on their ballots), now joins the 42 states that already prohibit gay marriage in the U.S.

It's unbelievable to me that so many people in the land of the free have effectively spit on the U.S. Constitution, which makes very clear: "No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States." It breaks my heart to know that an immigrant like my mother, who worked her ass off to earn her U.S. citizenship, can understand and honor the principles of the Constitution far better than people who have had the privilege of being born in America.

Either the supporters of Prop 8 do not believe in the U.S. Constitution—or they simply do not consider gays and lesbians to be equal citizens of the United States. Neither explanation sits well with me. And if those notions don't give pause to even the staunchest opponents of gay marriage, then there is something fundamentally broken about their vision of this country.

But you know what? Despite the fact that I almost titled this post "Fuck You, California," I refuse to despair over this for a number of reasons.

First of all, supporters of Proposition 8 may have logged a victory and dealt a blow to equal rights, but theirs is an empty victory. It's been well-documented that their campaign of TV ads, e-mails, mailings, and direct appeals was built on a foundation of absurd scare tactics, distorted facts, and outright lies. Apparently, for them, the ends justify the shady means, and they do not take ethical implications into consideration, even when their God is watching them. But, deep down, I'm sure they realize that cheating to get to the finish line does not make them winners. And claiming that they are not being discriminatory and homophobic over and over again does not make it so. To them, I say, "Shame on you. Shame. On. You."

What we continue to struggle with is making people—even people within the gay community itself—understand the idea of interconnection. But it's simple, really. Cultures of intolerance—whether overt and ugly or whether hidden behind a "loving-the-sinner-but-hating-the-sin" veneer—communicate to society that treating gays as second-class citizens is acceptable, which leads to things like increases in anti-gay hate crimes. One thing does follow another. Diseases spawn many symptoms. And just because you can wash blood off your hands doesn't mean that the blood was never spilled.

Secondly, let's put things into perspective, lest we become consumed with gloom. In 2000, when the first proposition to propose banning gay marriage (Prop 22) was put to a vote, it passed with 61.4% approval. (It's the ban that was reversed by the California Supreme Court in May and that led to Proposition 8.) Prop 8 received 52.4% approval (as of this writing)—although the measure passed, it was a narrow win, and the 9% drop in supporters of the ban is nothing to scoff at.

Lastly, this battle is far from over. The legality of this proposition will be challenged in court, gay couples who are already married will fight to ensure their marriages remain valid, and I will, in my own life, be mapping out an action plan for next steps—I've always felt that my role in all this is not combating the symptoms of homophobia (there are many people far more courageous than I who are doing that), but working at stamping out homophobic thinking and behavior at its core.

So I'm not going to wallow in defeat here. I'm going to recognize the significant progress that has been made in just eight years time. I'm going to acknowledge all the people—gay and straight, young and old—who took a stand against Proposition 8. I'm going to remember this idea of interconnection and how people's very vocal support of gay rights—of civil rights—will, in myriad ways, contribute to the eventual elimination of anti-gay hate crimes, gay teen suicide, school bullying, discrimination, and homophobia. This is not faulty logic; this is quantifiable truth.

It is my hope that everyone's valiant efforts will have a ripple effect that will carry us forth into a fairer future. "The arc of the moral universe is long," said Martin Luther King Jr., "but it bends toward justice." And because I have been witness to so many people who lent their support to this good cause, I am lifted up by them—lifted up so high that I can see the end of that arc.

Can you?

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BAMBOO NATION: Sweet. Bitter.
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