Lesson Learned: Local Politics

I had the fortune to have the time to attend a meeting of the Rules Committee of the San Jose City Council today. Up for discussion was whether to bring the Freedom to Marry Pledge petition to a full meeting of the council. At first glance, this appeared to be a no-brainer issue.

Then I listened.

Initially I was struck how the vast majority of people spoke about the issue of the resolution (that is, they were either pro marriage equality or against it), not about the resolution itself and whether it should go to council (the actual topic); the few that did I was grateful for, as they were educational.

A lot of people more or less wasted their one minute. Many made heartfelt statements, a whole lot of which were really scary to me. Starting from a place of religious fundamentalism, and not varying, not even seeing that church and government are different, not seeing irony nor inaccuracy. What a different way to be in the world. I did have some sympathy for some of the views presented, such as this is not an issue a city council can have any impact on (though OTOH, I think these discussions raise awareness).

It evolved that the resolution would more or less ‘force’ the mayor (who is not pro full marriage equality) to sign a resolution he didn’t support, which is an awful idea in a democratic world. And further that the mayor had offered to meet with both sides for further discussion, after next week’s election. And been pushed by the pro side to do it now… a clearly self-serving political move.

It was really disheartening to see the ‘good guys’ (you can read that as, I support the idea behind the resolution), using misguiding statements and tactics. That’s not the way I want to achieve equality. That perhaps is the way the world often works.

I have been to assorted other political events (such as a meeting with the impressive Rep. Zoe Lofgren, up for re-election next week), but this daily wheel turning discussion was a good use of my time. Man, these people have the patience of gods, to deal with what they have to deal with.

In California, (straight) trans people face few difficulties with marriage; get ID in your proper gender, and you’re good to go. There are states where trans people are stuck in a tangle where they can’t safely and legally marry anyone.

It’s the courts who drag us as a society forward with every civil rights issue. I look forward to when marriage equality is a done deal (what say everyone is legally in a civil union, and the word ‘marriage’ is colloquial?). May it be this year.

Local newspaper article on the meeting.