Dear California Voters,

It is not, as those who are closest to me will surely attest to, generally in my nature to ask for help. From anyone, really… let alone someone I don’t even know. But I would prefer not to think of you as strangers, seeing as you hold so much of my future in your hands, and it seems I am left with no option but to ask for your help. In a little over four months, you will have a choice to make. In all fairness, I will have a choice to make as well, but it will be blended together with your choice, and with all of the other choices of my fellow Californian citizens, to create the landscape of my future. You will have before you a ballot, with 12 propositions. It is the 8th that I would like to talk to you about today- the proposed constitutional amendment to place a limit on marriage in California. With that 8th proposition, you will have two options before you. The first option will be to say yes… yes, I think that you are less than me, and yes, I believe we should take away your newfound freedom to marry the one you love…and because I think that, I think the children you have or one day may have should also suffer for it. Yes, I think it is fair to rip these tentative strands of hope right out of your hands just after you were first able to grasp hold of them… because not only do you deserve less, you are less. Your second option will be to say No. No, I won’t tolerate inequality any longer, not here in my own state… not in my neighborhood and in my own home. No, I don’t think you are any less than I am, and no, I won’t stop you from making your love as legally valid and respected as mine.

When you see the ballot before you, try not to think of them as stationary words; as a split-second decision with no real ramifications, or as an intellectual argument you feel you have exhausted with your line of reasoning, whatever it may be. Think of it, instead, as you, making your reply directly to me, and to the thousands of other gay and lesbian individuals whose futures you are holding in your hands. Don’t just picture the words before you; letters typed on a page… picture your neighbor, your aunt, your classmates; your children and your children’s children. Picture your grocery clerk and your librarian; that woman in your Pilates class and that man who brews your morning latte. Picture their faces, because I promise you, the answer that you choose will shape at least one of their futures.

And if you cannot, for whatever reason, picture any of their faces when you envision the lives that your decision will impact, then picture mine. I am 5’9 with shoulder length dark brown hair, and even darker brown eyes. My partner is just a bit short than I am, with short red hair and eyes that range from green to blue, depending on her mood.

Picture us, waking up next to each other each morning… she makes the bed while I start the coffee, and then we meet at the front door to take our two little dogs out for their morning walk. Picture us sipping white chocolate mochas at a local independent coffee shop while we brainstorm ideas for our upcoming dissertation proposal. Picture us sitting side by side in church. Picture us mouthing along with the actors at our favorite musical, and picture us laughing our way across a dance floor, knowing that I have no rhythm but dancing anyway, because it is exhilarating to move across the room together, even if we don’t get all the steps right. There, can you see it? Can you see our love? Can you see our humanity?

Now picture us waking up on a lazy morning just last month. Having somehow both slept through our early classes, we are pulled out of sleep by a call letting us know that although we had gone to asleep in a world where we had only the faintest hope of ever getting legally married, we had woken up to a world in which it was a sudden tangible reality. Imagine the way the air itself might seem to taste a little fresher… a little lighter… in a state where you were now viewed with dignity and equality… a state where we can get married, just like almost every little girl has dreamed she one day might. Imagine our joyful tears when we discovered that the children we will one day adopt and foster and give birth to might now be protected not only by us, but also by the law.

Picture our tears of joy, our laughter, our hopes and our dreams… but also don’t forget to picture our fear. For on the tailwinds of this gift has arrived a paralyzing threat: that the gift will be taken away from us before we can even begin to fully embrace it.

What would you do, if your discussion about marriage was suddenly transformed from finding the perfect time, to deciding whether or not to seize the only opportunity you might ever see in your lifetime?

My girlfriend is terrified to hope that we might not have to choose between now and never; that come November, the air will have that same element of freedom and fairness that has us so giddy with excitement these days. I am terrified too… paralyzed even, in certain moments… But I wanted you to know that right now, I am also daring to hope. I am daring to hope that you will make your voice heard on November 4th; that you will cast your vote of “No” on Proposition 8 into a wave of votes on which my girlfriend, myself, and all of the other hopeful faces who are looking towards you in this moment, can be swept into a future where we can stand proudly beside you. Where we can be viewed with equality in our love, in our pain, in our hopes and dreams, and in our humanity… knowing that our freedom to marry the person we love had been upheld not only by the California Supreme Court, but also by you. This, dear California voter, is what I am asking you today. Will you vote No on Proposition 8, and use your voice to help make this dream a reality? Please bring your answer to the polling booths on November 4th. I’ll be anxiously awaiting your reply.