Stories from the front lines of the No on Prop 8 campaign

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While we may have lost this particular battle, we certainly haven’t lost the fight. We and are allies mobilized like never before, and along the way I’m sure there were many acts of courage, both large and small, that made the margin between Yes and No razor thin.

Below is one such story. Gino VanGundy did something many of us would not have the courage to do: engage a “Yes on 8” supporter in their home and share how we feel about the issue, in the hopes of getting them to rethink their perceptions about marriage equality, and perhaps, us. But often we fall back on those feelings that kept us in the closet when confronting total strangers we fear are against us, to share who we are and where we stand. This makes Gino’s story all the more relevant.

If you have any stories or someone you would like to give tribute to or who inspired you, please email me at [email protected]. I would love to post them here to inspire members of our community to be proud of who they are, to take a stand, and to make a difference.

Here’s Gino, in his own words, just a few days before the election…

Do you live in the suburbs? Are you tired of seeing the YES on Prop 8 signs everywhere and feeling like our voices are being drowned out by those that want to deny us (or your friends) our civil rights? I, for one, AM! They have even been coming to my front door. I have always taken the “nice guy” approach with them because mamma always said, “you can get much further with a teaspoon of honey than you can with a teaspoon of vinegar.” Speaking with them has been interesting, at best, but each time one leaves I find myself wondering, why the NO folks aren’t out there going door to door too. They have been coming to my door specifically because of the NO signs I have in my yard. Why shouldn’t we do the same?

About two weeks ago, as we were driving out of town on our daily trek from Fairfield to San Francisco (at 6am!) we were greeted by the largest YES banner we had ever seen! It was huge and stood about 12 feet in the air, was at least 6 feet wide and 4 feet high. Every morning for the last two weeks we have seen that sign staring down at us. To say that it has been an unpleasant way to start our day would be an understatement.

Today it hit me! If they can come to my front door, why can’t I go to theirs? I was admittedly terrified but decided that my first stop would be the house with the gigantic banner. I sat in my car for at least ten minutes as I mustered up the courage to actually ring the door bell. I thought, “deep breaths Gino, and just put one foot in front of the other” as I walked up the front walkway. I rang to doorbell and every natural instinct I had told me to run like hell! I stayed put and just as I was about to high-tail it out of there I heard the locks on the front door start to click. I was stuck! UGGH!

As the door slowly opened I was greeted by an older African American woman of about 75. Behind her stood a younger African American woman that was staring me down like I was not someone to be trusted. I smiled and introduced myself as a neighbor. I went on to ask them if they might be willing to discuss the banner that was looming over the busy street below. I sensed some indignation as in “who the hell are you to be telling me that I can’t put any damn sign I want in my yard?” I backpedaled and let them know that I believed it to be their right to hang whatever sign they choose and I went on to tell them that I was not there to attack them on their personal beliefs. I told them I was there to offer them a point of reference when thinking about the impact a YES vote on Prop 8 would have. “Well, what’s it matter to you? What are YOUR thoughts on the issue,” the younger woman said as she stepped out from behind the older woman. I took a big gulp and leapt right in! “Well,” I said, “for starters, I’m gay and the passage of Prop 8 would eliminate my right to equality under our Constitution.” Suddenly the older woman’s face softened and she said, “Well my sister works in San Francisco and she has a lot of gay friends and she wants me to take that damn thing down.” I saw an “in” but I waited for her to finish. “All this stuff is just too confusing to me! I’m not even a registered voter. Some guy knocked on my door and asked if he could put a sign in my yard to support some proposition. I told him that I didn’t care and the next time I went outside I looked up and saw this gigantic sign in MY BACKYARD!” “I never agreed to let him in my backyard he must have had a ladder because my gate is always locked.” “I’m just too old to get up there and take that thing down.” I had my in! “Oh, well if you’d like ME to take it down, I’d be happy to do that for you!” “Fine by me,” she said.

Unfortunately they did not have the key to the gate but I told them that I was more than happy to come back later when the person that had the key had returned. An hour later my daughter and I returned with our tools in hand and they happily let us into the backyard. Down came the sign, hugs given by all and my daughter and I expressed our sincerest appreciation as we left.

If you have thought of knocking on doors, now is the time. We have to get out and educate those that are blindly following, or worse, have been tricked into supporting something they do not fully understand. Be heard “stand up” and take the lumps that will surely come but know that there are people out there that support us but need some help to do it. One sign and one person at a time we can, at minimum, start to turn this dangerous tide.

A photo of the poster is below.

Post by ILO on 11/06/08 at 6:24 pm