Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Do we want an America that enshrines hate into our laws?

This is from a newsletter I received from Love & Pride today. It is well-written and says a great dea, so I wanted to share it with you here.


Dear Friends of Love and Pride
I was recently asked to share my thoughts on marriage equality and Proposition 8 the proposed amendment in California that would effectively enshrine homophobia and hate into in their state constitution. This measure has the potential to reverberate either positively or negatively across the U.S. We have made such wonderful progress in our fight for the rights of all loving couples even under the last 8 years of a less than supportive administration. We cannot afford to take such a giant step back. Please take a look at the editorial that was recently posted online. And let your voices be heard in a clear and resounding NO to Proposition 8 next week. Whether you live in Wisconsin, New York, Alaska or anywhere else we are all Californians next Tuesday.
- Udi Behr


Picture this.

A typical New York dinner -- good friends sitting around and pontificating on the state of the world -- with everyone having an opinion on everything. The upcoming election is the topic of the evening. And while the majority of the diners are confirmed liberals -- there is of course, a smattering of Republicans -- well, OK, only one confirmed conservative at the table. I do believe in equality after all.
He gets very quiet while we are discussing the impact of the election on marriage equality -- especially the upcoming vote in California on Proposition 8. Thinking he is just a bit uncomfortable about voicing a negative opinion on marriage rights for gays and lesbians amongst this ACLU crowd, and given how vocal I tend to be on the subject, I turn to him during a lull in the conversation and ask what he is thinking.

The table quiets down as he turns to one of the gay men at the table and says, You know, apart from about 1 hour a week, you and I are pretty much the same. I am really uncomfortable about taking away such a basic right. I always supported an America that gave freedom and rights -- not one that enshrined hate in their laws.

Overwhelmed by his comment and insight, I am encouraged that perhaps the true spirit of Americans will show itself in California in November.

Marriage equality is a reality in California -- a right that we, as Americans from every state, need to nurture and protect from those who would like to see the State Supreme Courts decision set aside. How ironic that we need to protect our lesbian and gay children and family members newfound rights from those organizations with names like the Campaign for Children and Families.

Who do these people think lesbians and gay people are? Where do they think they come from? Dont they get that every gay and lesbian is the son and daughter, sister and brother, uncle and aunt, mother, father -- and grandparent of someone else in this wonderful world.

I have been married for 25 years. Flexing emotional muscles every day is hard work -- whether straight or gay. But the end results can be wonderful. My wife and I have two children, a son and a daughter. They are our family and we only want the best for both of them . We want them to have the ability to experience the universal joys of life. How could parents look at their children and know that they couldnt share the same right to express their love -- our most astonishing gift as humans -- just because of who they were born to love?

Love is our very best quality and the law cannot put a limit on that.

I am a jewelry activist. I express my dreams and my beliefs through my designs. I design jewelry for people who want to make a fashion and a social statement. 10% of proceeds from my companys sales are donated to non-profit organizations that support a world of true equality -- like the one that Lambda Legal fights the good fight for on behalf of the gay and lesbian community.

The right to say I do is fundamental and a life experience not to be denied to 10% of our family and friends. So, if the gay and lesbian community cant say I do, Ill say I dont.

- I dont understand why over 4,000 American soldiers have died fighting in Iraq to bring democracy and civil rights to those outside the U.S. when many more are fighting in California to deny the basic right to love.

- I dont get why foreclosures are up 65% from last year -- and rising with no end in sight.

- I dont fathom how gas is at $4 and we continue to be the #1 global warming polluter in the world.

- I dont conceive how our elected officials can look at themselves every morning in the mirror knowing that our most vulnerable children and citizens dont have affordable healthcare.

- I dont understand why people are surprised at the global economic meltdown with the policies of the last 8 years.

I dont get why all of this is true -- and were still talking about enshrining prejudice and hate in our state and federal constitutions. As if the right of all loving couples to marry is the most important evil to overcome.

Where are the constitutional amendments for equality, diversity and tolerance?

Now I am an optimist at heart. And I believe in the better angels of our nature. But I will keep a vow to say No and I dont until all of us can say I do. I truly hope that others, like my conservative friend, will also say no to hate and send a clear message on Proposition 8 that love and marriage is a basic right for all loving couples.

For me, its truly that black and white. As a jewelry designer, I know that no two diamonds are created equal. But as a husband and a father -- I know that all love is.

A former Israeli paratrooper turned award-winning jewelry designer, Udi Behr is the Chief Designer and Creative Director of Love and Pride, the first high-end designer jewelry online destination for people who believe in equality, diversity and tolerance. Find out more about Udi Behr and his Love and Pride Collection at www.loveandpride.com.

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