Hopefully you’ve already seen and been buoyed by this inspiring video. And if not, well, be prepared for something rare and wonderful. As Sarah posted at AfterEllen.com yesterday, San Diego’s Republican Mayor Jerry Sanders announced earlier this week that he was reversing his previously-announced decision to veto a gay marriage resolution. He said he did so because he could not look into the face of his gay daughter, Lisa, or his gay staff members and “tell them that their relationship -- their very lives -- were any less meaningful than the marriage I share with my wife Rana.” (Read the full transcript at Wockner.)
Mayor Sanders (pictured above with his daughter Lisa at his 2005 swearing-in ceremony) said he realized the gay marriage vs. civil unions debate is, ultimately, a lie. There is no such thing as separate but equal. There is only separate or equal. It is a decision that will no doubt anger his conservative constituents. But it is a reminder that doing what is right isn’t always a popular. But sometimes, as he said, you have to lead with your heart.
This is also a reminder that what changes peoples’ minds isn’t necessarily the public discourse, but the private heart-to-hearts. I’ve always thought the marches and parade and protests -- while great -- were something done perhaps more for us than for them. They’re an affirmation that we aren’t the only ones shaking our fists at the injustice. While that is invaluable to our collective spirit, I don’t think it’s what moves people outside of our bubble.
Instead, this is how the world changes. Not through loud marches and big speeches. But through the small, quiet moments of our conscience. It is the mother or father, daughter or son, sister or brother, neighbor or friend, who you know who gives a face and a beating heart to these issues we talk about in the abstract like equality and justice, hatred and bigotry.
This is why it’s all the more baffling that there are countless others who - like Mayor Sanders - find their public policy at odds with their personal experiences, yet do nothing to rectify the imbalance. Are you listening Dick Cheney? How can your heart live with what your head does to your daughter? How can you sleep knowing the policies you push declare her life less worth protecting than every other citizen. The conscience is a powerful thing. Someday - like Mayor Sanders - may you finally find yours.p.s. If you want to thank Mayor Sanders, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want to tell Gov. Schwarzenegger to look into his own heart and not veto a similar piece of legislation coming though the legislature, do so here. If you want to tell Dick Cheney to go to hell, well, get in line.
UPDATE: OK, so Wockner has Lisa Sander’s first, and possibly only, public comment on her dad’s courageous decision:
“I'm just very proud of my father. And to be a part of this. It's about equality, and he's doing the right thing, and I'm very confident in him.”