Do we have to rip New Jersey apart to achieve full equality? By Jon Holden Galluccio, author of “An American Family” and a Vice Chair of Garden State Equality

Posted by Jon Holden Galluccio on Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do we have to rip New Jersey apart to achieve full equality? By Jon Holden Galluccio, author of “An American Family” and a Vice Chair of Garden State Equality

Back in 2007, through a wonderful job opportunity for Michael and the magic of Disney, we packed up our lives and moved to California.  It was an extremely difficult decision to move but the job was great and California had programs for Adam that could not be ignored.  So we relocated to a lovely outer suburb of Los Angeles in the Santa Clarita Valley called Stevenson Ranch.

It was a beautiful place to live. The Santa Clarita Valley was an oasis in the desert, with new homes, shopping centers, churches, schools and roads.  People were proud to live there.  As the economy tanked and most families were suffering it was still a great place to live.  It was still an escape from the congestion, smog and overcrowding that is Los Angeles and the adjacent communities.  Soon however, even with all its beauty, it would become a very ugly place to live.

When California granted marriage rights to gay couples our neighbors, coworkers, teacheres and friends were very happy for us.  Everyone wanted to know if we were “finally going to get legally married” of course our answer was yes.

So, on an unusually cold and windy day, Michael and I were married.  We were married at our friends home and horse ranch in Agua Dulce.  Even the temperature and wind could not damper the beautiful wedding.  For us, it was a small understated affair, even dressed in our Indian wedding attire!  As we prepared for this day and when we said our vows that day we had mostly ignored what was becoming the nightmare of Prop 8.

Within what seemed to be moments the tranquil beautiful valley of Santa Clarita had become a bastion for hate.  We were vocal and public and known in the community before this “referendum” was even considered so there was no hiding now.  We stood up, spoke out and asked for people to “vote” for us, to listen to your hearts and do the right thing.  However, it is heard to listen to your heart when your ears and mind are being bombarded by hateful lies about the entire GLBT community but especially those of us with children.

The money came pouring into the state to strip us of our right to marry.  The Mormon Church and the Knights of Columbus sent millions of dollars to fund this campaign. Television commercials, billboards and lawn signs became the norm.  Our community waged a campaign to tell the truth about us but failed miserably, which I will not get into here.

I remember being on a street corner with my family and a pickup truck driving in the street pulled over, window down when a kid, maybe about 8 or 10, hung out of the window, stuck out his hand middle finger up and said “fuck you faggots”.  I was horrified.  My horror was centered at the driver, a parent, who not only encouraged and allowed that kind of behavior but was probably proud of it as well.

Kids that played carefree with my children were no longer allowed to play with our kids.  Former friends of my children would fight with them at school telling them how their parents were “fags” and going to “burn in hell”.  When trick or treating on Halloween, kids chose freely to boycott houses with yard signs that did not agree with their parent’s point of view.  Kids were choosing politics of hate over free candy, WTF?

When Prop 8 passed it was not over and will probably live on for generations in California.  So many children were poisoned by this campaign, so many horrible things ingrained in them, so many bullies created. 

There are hundreds of lessons to be learned from the Prop 8 battle in California.  The ones that will always stick with me are the lessons from the children.  Madison, at 11 years old, had to defend herself and her family on a daily basis to a community which only months before had embraced her and her family.

I never want to go through something like that again, especially in my home state.  I get that change is never easy, it’s not easy for me and I don’t pretend it isn’t easy for others. However, with so much history to help us put things into perspective, why do people continue to fight against us achieving full equality?

There is no doubt in my mind, no doubt in my heart that we, the GLBT community, will achieve full equality on the state and federal level.  At what price though?  No minority group has achieved equality without a fight and we have been fighting ours for a long time, remember Stonewall?  Our adoption victory was in 1997, 15 years ago. It might be time for our oppressors to stand aside and finally let us live our lives with dignity.

Emily on February 4, 2012 at 9:11:51 pm said:
Just saw your daughter here: She's a wonderful young lady and you and your husband/fiance ought to be proud! Mazel tov on your wedding!

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