The Passage of Proposition 8: Denying Fundamental Rights to LGBTIQ South Asians

A week after the elections, many in the South Asian community are looking forward to a new Administration and Congress that will hopefully bring forth positive changes concerning civil rights. The elections, however, are bittersweet for many South Asians who are also grappling with disappointment of Proposition 8’s passage in California. This ballot initiative amends the state’s Constitution to ban marriage between same-sex partners. Its passage is especially significant given that it followed a California Supreme Court ruling in The Marriage Cases that recognized same-sex couples’ right to marry.

The passage of Proposition 8 replays a shameful chapter in our country’s history regarding inequality in marriage. During the first half of the twentieth century, anti-miscegenation laws prohibited many immigrants and individuals of color, including Punjabi farmers in California’s Imperial Valley, from marrying Caucasians. It wasn’t until the landmark Supreme Court case of Loving v. Virginia in 1967 that all race-based legal restrictions on marriage were declared unconstitutional. With this history in mind,
over 60 Asian-American organizations joined legal briefs supporting marriage equality in The Marriage Cases in California in 2007.

Marriage equality, along with other issues affecting lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals, is often silenced and ignored in the South Asian community. Advocates and community members in California worked tirelessly to raise awareness about equality among South Asians. For example,
Trikone-SF developed posters, distributed in collaboration with Satrang, featuring South Asians opposing Proposition 8. South Asian Network (SAN) spoke at a press conference expressing concerns about the initiative. SAN and Satrang also coordinated a march in Artesia’s “Little India.” The struggle for equality continues with rallies against Proposition 8 continuing after Election Day and lawsuits filed against the initiative for violating the Constitution.

If you want to learn more about the range of issues affecting the South Asian LGBTIQ community, check out SAN and Satrang’s groundbreaking needs assessment report,
No More Denial, and the LGBTIQ section of A National Action Agenda: Policy Recommendations to Empower South Asian Communities.

October 11th (National Coming Out Day) Street Procession in Artesia, CA

Read this guest blog from Rashmi Choksey, member of Satrang, a social, cultural and support organization that provides a safe space to empower and advocate for the rights of the South Asian LGBTIQQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans, Intersex, Queer and Questioning) community in Southern California. Satrang and the South Asian Network, a grassroots, community based organization dedicated to advancing the health, empowerment and solidarity of persons of South Asian origin in Southern California, worked together to organize a Street Procession in Artesia, CA on October 11th to commemorate National Coming Out Day.

The afternoon started out with creating a fun atmosphere, making posters and eating samosas…even dancing to old classic Bollywood movie music…all in South Asian Network’s (SAN) office.

Dressed in desi outfits, more than 20 Satrang members (compared to 7 last year), along with SAN staff and volunteers, and allies/partners, gathered in the parking lot with our banners and posters with Salman leading the out and loud chants on the bullhorn – “We’re Here, We’re Queer, We’re Out on Pioneer!”, “Jeeyo Aur Jeene Do”, “No on Prop 8” (aka No on Prop Hate) and many others.

After the procession and slogan chanting was done for the evening, we all headed to Bombay Sweets and Snacks for some delicious food…we took all their tables and consumed our Bombay burgers and falooda.

After all that was done people went off home or to other destinations…carrying the feeling of having accomplished what we went out there to do…be visible and create awareness.

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