Civics lesson on our street corner


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This woman thinks she’s protecting families, marriage, and free speech:

This woman thinks she's protecting families

With her church friends who were out on the street corner by my house this morning, waving their signs that say “Yes on Prop 8”. That’s what she told me.

My friend Squid came to my door, breathless, her kids in the car. “You have to go out there. I can’t do it today… Twitter it, call people…”

So Moomin and I made signs. They said “No on Prop 8 !!!!!” and “Equal Rights for All Families”, and “No Homophobia”. Moomin drew hearts on his. I drew pink triangles and a rainbow.

No on Proposition 8

And got our rainbow flag.

No on Proposition 8

No on Proposition 8

While we colored our signs we talked about history, and the first Pride marches. I told him about Loving vs. the State of Virginia and how that was fought and won in the Supreme Court, so that our government has a law that people with different skin color can marry each other legally.

Obviously this is not the same battle. But it does have similarities. The opponents of interracial marriage used the same arguments about God, the Bible, destroying the fabric of society, and so on. Those were arguments to explain away and cover up their racism and bigotry. And now, in this similar fight, religion is the cover story for hatred. In my opinion this is a misuse of a person’s religion and a dishonor to it. We didn’t go into that, because I would get too muddled and angry.

In fact, I didn’t have a good explanation for Moomin as to why anyone would fight against other people’s rights, other than, “privilege” – they have it, and they want to keep it, and that means, they have to take it away from someone else.

It takes my breath away. These people! In my neighborhood! Right on my street with their signs and their hatred and misinformation. How dare they. There’s no way I’m going to let that pass without doing something. I’ve donated money. But I’ll go put my body out there with a sign so that people driving by don’t feel alone in their disagreement and outrage. So that they have something to cheer.

We went out to the corner a block from my house at El Camino and Jefferson, where there’s heavy traffic.

On our way to the corner, three groups of people stopped us to approve of us, saying “Thank god! I was just thinking of doing something like that!” We got high fives from neighbors and from complete strangers.

There were about 8 or 9 “Yes on 8” supporters on the 4 corners, with printed signs. Our signs, home made signs, were so much better!

People rolled down their windows to give Moomin and I the thumbs up, honking and saying “right on!” and then booed and yelled “NO ON 8” to the others. Their thumbs would go up for us – down for the homophobe bigots.

A mom in their little group, with her kid about Moomin’s age, greeted me by name. Sorry lady. I don’t know you. Apparently you know me. Maybe you’re in my son’s school or his old school or maybe we were in the Moms’ Club these last 8 years. I don’t know who you are.

I don’t understand the minds of these people. Why they’d go out of their way to deny other people the civil rights they enjoy. What is in their minds and hearts? What is wrong with these folks?

“Marriage is only between a man and a woman,” the woman in the photo above told me and my 8 year old. “We want to protect families, and free speech.” Moomin said, “Excuse me. Actually, I don’t get it. You’re voting to make a law that people can’t get married. How is that protecting families again?!” and he made a little “you’re nuts” circle by his head.

One lady at a stop light rolled down her window. She was very old and her hair was done in a sort of 40s updo, obviously done on rollers. She was dressed beautifully. I thought she might smile at us. But no – “I feel sorry for you,” she said, frowning and looking like she was going to spit, like she smelled something bad. “You just aren’t right.”

Another man pulled up, got out of the car, and thanked us for our obviously spontaneous effort. “I just wanted to stop and shake your hand. Thank you. Thank you for doing this.” He shook my hand, then Moomin’s.

We couldn’t stay out long, as I was too tired to keep sitting up. We came back by way of the grocery store, where we met two lesbian families with their children, who complimented our signs. Many people talked to us in the store. In the checkout line, an older lady, so bent over she could barely look straight ahead while she walked, carefully picked up the end of my rainbow flag from where it was trailing and tucked it up so it wouldn’t get dirty. She patted my shoulder. For once I didn’t mind being patted.

I spent most of the rest of the day in bed and did not get the projects done that I intended to do. I didn’t clean up the house, and didn’t work with Moomin on his school project or play games with him. We both just laid in bed reading most of the day. I took a long nap. I hoped that was okay – how I meant the day to be, vs. what it was. And I wonder what he’ll remember of this and other times I’ve asked him to be an activist with me? And what he’ll think later in life? I felt so proud of him, coming with me, making the signs, actually shaking his fist at the folks across the street, and talking with me about what he thought. It’s something I’m very proud to share with him.

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18 Responses to Civics lesson on our street corner

  1. thetwinkle says:

    good on you both. i think it's a great way to spend the day. i hope i will parent so courageously.

  2. elswhere says:

    Reading this post made me so happy and inspired. You and Moomin and Squid all rock.

  3. Liz says:

    Heeee! Thanks y'all. Els it was so hilarious to have Squid pop in like that. You would have loved it. I felt kind of flattered to be popped-in-on, like "Emergency activism needed! Of course, call on Liz!" and indeed we whipped out the banners & went at it. Like being in the V.F.D.!

  4. The Redheaded Lefty says:

    What a good example to set for your child. I feel similarly when I drive by the local (and only) Planned Parenthood here and there are families—with children, mind you—holding posters with pictures of dead fetuses (as if that is at all helpful). The ignorance is astounding. No on prop 8! An important issue.

  5. Lisa says:

    I do not live in your region, thus am unfamiliar with the situation. However, I am with you in the sentiment (hopefully I understood you ) of being tired of religion being used as an excuse to abuse others. I am weary of people saying religion teaches tolerance, love and not judging others, while excusing their hate, intolerance and judgmental attitudes as righteous indignation. I believe people have a right to their religious beliefs, but I am uncertain where it says they have the right to impose their religion on others.

  6. sgtg says:

    Thank you Liz and Moomin! My husband tells me it may actually pass. I can't believe it! Our only activism so far has been to tell our neighbors to move the yes on 8 sign away from our property. They did. It amazes me that with so much at stake in this election, a ton of very religious people are expending a ton of effort to actually pass this thing. And I'm with Moomin. I don't get it. It doesn't even affect the people that are fighting for it. I guess it's like men trying to control women's bodies. It has nothing to do with them. But yet, they seem to think it does.

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  8. Mr Lady says:

    This heart is SWELLING with pride for you!

  9. Maria says:

    I'm so proud of you and I would be willing to bet that you created a memory with Moomin that he will remember for the rest of his life. Not that what you had planned for his day wasn't important but I think he will look back and be glad you made the choice to dive into action 🙂

  10. Leslie M-B (trillwin says:

    You are an awesome mom. I only hope I can be as brave and outspoken when my son is Moomin's age.

  11. Polly says:

    Holy crap! Or I should say, Unholy crap!That everyday bravery probably taught Moomin more in a few hours than he'd gathered up at school for a month. And I'll bet the experience — and the courage it helped flower in him — will be with him for years, if not for his whole life.You are a shero, and not just to him.

  12. wyliekat says:

    I think that's the best education you could ever give. Good on ya, sister.

  13. Squid says:

    You have no idea. We had just picked up Iz's Godfather Michael from the CalTrain station when we drove by the Yes on 8 people. He was unimpressed.Thanks for doing this!There's a No on 8 demonstration tomorrow night on the same corner!What: *No on 8 Demonstration*When: *Friday, October 24, from 4:30 to 7:00 pm*Where: Redwood City, corners of *El Camino Real & Jefferson*Who: All supporters of No on 8Why: To put a public face on the diversity of supporters against Prop 8; to demonstrate the importance of protecting equal rights for all Californians.Because this has also been a site of Yes on 8 supporters, it is imperative to demonstrate in a manner that is peaceful and nonconfrontational.Because research shows that consistent messaging creates positive impact of the message, the campaign is requesting that NO ONE SPEAK TO THE MEDIA if they arrive.Please direct all requests for comments to Allie Bay 916-284-9187 or 916-554-7683. Please bring this information with you in case you need it.Again, to achieve consistent messaging, yard signs and/or previously printed signs from the No on 8 campaign are best. If these are unavailable and you bring handmade signs, please use the following key words: UNFAIR, WRONG, UNNECESSARY, and NO ON 8.More info on No on Prop 8:http://www.squidalicious.com/2008/10/no-on-prop-8-demonstration.html

  14. Tricia says:

    Hey- we met at blogher- I just followed your comment link over from Mr. Lady.I posted about this too and am curenntly involved in a e-mail conversation with a mom at school who respectfully disagrees…interesting.

  15. Kristen says:

    Wow – what a mom. I love the values you are instilling to support people, even if they are different. Equal rights is something everyone deserves in all situations. Every child could benefit from learning a lesson like this.

  16. ...e... says:

    "It takes my breath away. These people! In my neighborhood! Right on my street with their signs and their hatred and misinformation. How dare they. There's no way I'm going to let that pass without doing something. I've donated money. But I'll go put my body out there with a sign so that people driving by don't feel alone in their disagreement and outrage. So that they have something to cheer."a perfect synopsis of the thought process that sent them out there, thsnks!!

  17. Liz says:

    …e… I realize that, and that's why I wrote it!

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    "No on prop 8" is kind off campaign run by the pious women who is taking care of those people who can't afford the basic necessities of life with the help of English writing skills as they do these thing for welfare and prosperity of nation.