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.