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20 October 2003

There were many lovely things about being in Australia, but one was feeling totally, completely removed from the issues of the day.

I missed the entire California circus of electing a movie star to be governor, just because, as one woman I heard interviewed before I left said, "He's....the TERMINATOR!" I missed all the brouhaha surrounding the elevation of The Terminator to "Governor Pinchbottom" and I'm just as happy for it.

I never felt threatened by nuclear bombs from anyone, nor mourned the loss of American life on foreign shores, because I never knew about it. I never heard George Bush's voice once in six weeks. Peggy doesn't watch the news or subscribe to a newspaper.

When you live in a politically active city, such as Davis, and when you have very politically active friends, you are aware of the issues at all times, and I have to admit that it was lovely not to know anything.

I knew whether there were galahs nesting in the eucalyptus. I knew that it would probably rain because the black cockatoos were singing. I knew that Chippa had somehow bloodied her foot. I knew that the wind was coming in by the way the water out at sea looked. I knew about the house repairs at Janne and Chris's house and the poisonous snake that Julie killed (which turned out to be a legless lizard).

I couldn't control those events any more than I could control world events (or state events or city events), but I was much happier (read: more relaxed) only having to deal with those things that had direct effect on my life for those lovely six weeks.

Today I returned to reality with a bang.

My first visit outside the house was to Shelly and Ellen, whom I suspect many regard as the token gay couple in Yolo County. They have worked tirelessly for gay rights, and are currently very active with Marriage Equality issues and so, needless to say, once I had given them the gift I'd brought from Australia and we had thoroughly dissected my walkabout, they began to fill me in on what has been happening on the political scene in my absence.

It happens to be Pride Day on the campus (UC Davis) and so we walked up there (since I had no Keno and Chippa to walk, I walked with Shelly and Ellen....I'm not used to this heat though!!!). As we walked, they filled me in on the latest crisis.

Shortly before the recall, Governor Davis signed bill AB250, which grants all the privileges and responsibility of marriage to same sex partners in committed relationships. Now there is a big movement afoot not only to repeal that bill, but the previous bill passed a few years ago, which gave minimal rights to same sex partners. Should the proposed new bill (the number of which I have forgotten) pass, same sex partners will return to having no rights whatsoever. They will have to fight for visitation rights in the hospital, to bury their partners, etc., etc., etc. down the list of that 1,000+ rights which married couples have which are denied to same gender partners.

After a long hard-won, but victorious battle, they have to turn around and fight it all over again, in what promises to be a long, drawn-out, ugly confrontation, no matter how it ends up.

Straight people never think about things like this--that gay people have to fight for basic rights every single day and after they finally win the battle, some idiot decides they shouldn't have those rights anyway, introduces another bill to take all the rights away and the next battle starts. All for the right to live quietly, without bothering anyone, just live as their other neighbors do. But the fact of their existence bothers some so much that they must continually throw up obstacles to just living life from day to day.

Shelly and Ellen are not only involved in this battle, but they have been working with the group dealing with same gender partners from different countries, and what a painful thing that is. They told of the INS showing up at someone's door in the middle of the night and removing the non-citizen from the home without giving them a chance to pack anything, putting them on a plane back to their home country, where, in some cases, being outed as homosexual is a certain death threat.

They shared story after story of people whose only crime was falling in love with someone from a different country and then discovering that neither country was willing to admit the partner on a permanent basis, so they were forced to either separate forever, or to have one person living in constant fear of being discovered as an illegal alien.

We went to the Pride rally at the University to attempt to enlist the help of the students in fighting the upcoming bill. It took me back to my old Berkeley days, the strident speeches, the zeal and idealism and the "I can change the world" attitude. And quite an education watching Shelly and Ellen work the crowd in picking the right people to talk with about getting help in fighting the fight.

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The problem with students is that gender issues are such non-issues for them (no big deal if you're gay/straight/bisexual/transgendered/whatever) that they don't think it's worth campaigning or even voting. But Ellen and Shelly are old hands at networking. I just stood back, sweating, eating melted chocolate and pizza, which they were giving away to people who showed up at the rally, and watched them target key people who can help enlist students in the new battle.

I came home with my conscience raised a little bit, but kind of longing for the lovely peace and serenity of a home with no newspaper and no TV news, where the biggest concern of the day was whether or not there was enough time to hang up the wash before the rains came in. (And where I could probably make just as much difference in the world as I could standing on the campus at UC Davis, with melted chocolate in my hand.)

Today's Photo

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Today's rally

For more photos, please visit My Fotolog and My FoodLog

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Created 10/20/03