Sunday, February 13, 2005

we must draw a line in the sand

Last night was a benefit gala honoring Mayor Gavin Newsom, thrown by Equality California, at the first anniversary of the same-sex marriages he facilitated. Although the Supreme Court eventually, mystifyingly, struck them down, Newsom is still a hero in this town for having attempted it.

I didn't see the mayor himself, about whom I once said some rather unkind things I now regret. I didn't know he had the chutzpah it turned out he has, and although some people say his defense of gay marriage is nothing more than a calculated move to increase his popularity among his gay constituency, what a move! I did see Supervisor Mark Leno, who gave a really wonderful, rousing speech where he noted, as I have, that gay marriage is a win-win situation. Although he told a better joke about it than I, namely that the city's sales tax revenue would be able to pay for a whole host of useful things if gay people were allowed to marry, based on the sales of ice sculptures alone.

But the problem's not just that those couples--who thought they were legally married--have had it yanked away from them. The religious right is pushing for an amendment of California's constitution in 2006, which is, as AX noted last year, scary for everyone.

Essentially, I worked for free. Because when Kate Kendall, the (completely hot) head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights got to the mic and started exhorting the crowd to make donations to fight this amendment--there's a one million dollar challenge grant at stake--I sidled up to one of the clipboard people and asked if EQ:CA was taking money from waiters. It's not much compared to what they need, or to what other people were saying they'd give--one guy stood up and pledged 10,000 bucks, right there, and I wondered which captain had that section, and how much wine she'd been pouring--but it seemed fitting. Especially since I'd arrived at work in a foul is this the shift where I stalk off, swearing never to return? sort of mood, and here I was being given an opportunity to transform some of that anger into grace. We cannot lose California, shouted Kendall. What is your liberation worth to you? What is it worth to you to escape oppression? I swallowed my fear of ending up homeless and destitute and said I'd contribute my paltry wages for the shift.

Clipboard guy, who I know I've worked with but whose name I couldn't remember, neatly wrote down my little number, under someone else's $2,500 and someone else's $5,000, and kissed my cheek, which moved me in a way I can't name.

Then I went out and got totally blitzed on labor-intensive lemon cocktails with one of the chefs. A good night.