LGBT Perspective: After Proposition 8

LGBT Perspective: After Proposition 8
By: John and Belinda Dronkers-Laureta, Nov 06, 2008

The Path Forward

By the time you read this, California’s Proposition 8, which would define marriage as only between a man and woman, will have been either rejected or passed. Either way,much work needs to be done to heal the fissures rendered by this divisive issue.


If it passed, we will have to work to remove that onerous constitutional amendment. One thing is certain: Denying people in love the right to marry has little future. If it failed,then we need to reach out to those who believe the concept of marriage has been destroyed and teach them that quite the opposite has happened. Making it more inclusive has made marriage much stronger.

For us, most of the convincing must be done among Asian Americans. As a group, their willingness to vote in favor of discrimination has saddened us. State Sen. Leland Yee said recently that he was pained by the divisiveness of the Asian American community and that on issues of humanity and civil rights we should speak as one family.

History’s lessons about the great social upheavals that shaped today’s society give us comfort. After 70 years of agitation by suffragettes, California allowed women to vote in 1911 and the nation followed in 1920. Miscegenation laws had been part of America’s system since colonial times, but in 1948 California banned the prohibition against interracial marriage and the U.S Supreme Court extended that for the whole country in 1967.

History also teaches that the road ahead is long and difficult. A hundred years after they gained the right to vote, women still fight a glass ceiling. It took more than 80 years for the U.S. Supreme Court to change its mind and go from upholding anti-miscegenation laws to finding them unconstitutional, but today mixed couples still invite stares on the streets. In America, social change begins with hard work to establish legal grounding, then even more hard work to change attitudes. But it does happen.

One aspect that makes any debate difficult is the large emotional content people invest in their beliefs. Those who voted for Proposition 8 believe that marriage between only a man and a woman is the foundation of our society. We maintain that marriage is an expression of an even more fundamental societal value, namely love, and that any true expression of that value is inclusive of all love.

At the foundation of our American experiment are the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. We all have equal protection under the law and there are no qualifiers. History is on our side, and we have an Asian view of time and the patience that comes with that. The process for same-sex marriage will follow the pattern of the other great struggles for equality. It will be implacable and relentless, and when it is over, people will say that the debate should have concluded a long time ago.

Belinda and John Dronkers-Laureta are board members of Asian & Pacific Islander Family Pride (


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