Local Spin: Up and Down
Finding hope in the fall of Prop. 8 and the rise of Gives!
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Two columns for the price of one: The first on the number eight, and the second on a much larger number.
One. As much as I hated living in Berkeley, and boy did I ever, it was somewhat jarring to find that when it came to Proposition 8, I had been living in a protective little bubble. If a house displayed a campaign sign, it was inevitably one that read “No on 8.” We attended a so-called mainline Presbyterian church (oh pick your jaws up off the ground) that held training sessions and hosted phone banks to advocate against 8. On election night, we gathered at the house of a friend, cheered as Barack Obama was swept into office on a tidal wave of hope – and were stunned that more than 7 million Californians had voted to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, compared to the 6.4 million who voted against it. U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker, who has been described as everything from an independent-minded conservative to a Republican libertarian, ruled in 2010 that Prop. 8 is unconstitutional under the due process and equal protection clauses.
The case was kicked up to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, which on Feb. 8 ruled 2-1 that the gay marriage ban is indeed unconstitutional. “Prop. 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples,” Judge Stephen Reinhardt wrote in the majority opinion.
Of course it’s going to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Yes on 8 groups were swift in their reaction. The hysterical National Organization for Marriage (you might remember them for their “A Storm is Coming” commercial lampooned by Stephen Colbert) says on its blog that Tuesday’s ruling “sets up an all-or-nothing showdown at the U.S. Supreme Court.” And locally, erstwhile congressional candidate Jeff Taylor is quoted in the Salinas paper as saying, “What I was standing for and still am standing for is the protection of marriage the way God intended.”
Don’t you just love it when Republicans claim to know the mind of God?
The Weekly’s Facebook page has a discussion about the ruling. Chad Peabody, for example, comments that the composition of the U.S. Supreme Court all but guarantees a ruling against same-sex marriage. “Should people charge head-first into a losing situation,” he asks, “or wait until conditions are favorable for a victory?”
He might be right. But if not now, when?
My philosophy on gay marriage is simple: Don’t like gay marriage, don’t get gay married. But I like the philosophy of actor/director/activist George Takei even more. He lived in two Japanese-American internment camps as a child, and he lived through coming out as a gay man and marrying his partner. And now, he’s just really looking forward to all those wedding invitations.
Two. We launched it in December, rallied the troops, published a glossy-cover edition and asked the simple question: Will you donate a few dollars to the Monterey County Gives! campaign to support big ideas from local nonprofits? Along with the Community Foundation for Monterey County, the David & Lucile Packard Foundation and Neumeier Poma Investment Counsel, we’re beyond thrilled to announce Monterey County Gives! raised $672,172.60.
That includes a $100,000 matching grant that will be divided among all the participating nonprofits, based on the percentage of donations they received.
For nonprofits already hamstrung by the economy, we like to think of Gives! as an easy way to buttress their budgets. Nonprofit Ag Against Hunger raised almost $19,000 this year, and the Food Bank for Monterey County, more than $31,000. The SPCA of Monterey County raised more than $45,000, and The International School of Monterey nearly $80,000. And the list goes on.
For some nonprofits, the totals were much smaller. A little over $600 for the Monterey Museum of Art. About $135 for the Just Run! youth program of the Big Sur International Marathon. But hopefully, in an atmosphere where every penny counts, these laudable nonprofits will make these bits of copper count as well.
The nonprofits with the most donors under the age of 35 (MEarth Habitat) and the most donors overall (International School) will receive special $1,000 grants.
Also, one nonprofit will receive a $2,500 Ingenuity Award. Check the paper next week. We’re going to tell you all about them.
MARY DUAN is the Weekly’s editor. Reach her at email@example.com, and follow her at twitter.com/maryrduan.