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Prop. 8 opponent: We want full civil marriage rights

  • Story Highlights
  • California's Prop 8 overturned ruling that struck down ban on same-sex unions
  • Hughley doesn't condone gay lifestyle, but also doesn't like government involvement
  • Gay community should reach out to minorities, who should speak out, Savage says
  • Savage: "If you're going to hell for being gay, ain't that enough?"
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Editor's Note: The following is based on a transcript from "D.L. Hughley Breaks the News," which airs on CNN at 10 p.m. ET Saturdays and Sundays.

Dan Savage: "It is a responsibility of all of us not to be homophobic."

(CNN) -- More than a week after voters in California, Arizona and Florida passed ballot initiatives outlawing same-sex marriage, thousands of people across the country protested the bans in simultaneous rallies Saturday.

In California, Proposition 8 overturned a May ruling by the California Supreme Court that struck down a 2000 ban on same-sex unions. It passed 52.5 percent to 47.5 percent.

CNN's D.L. Hughley spoke to sex columnist Dan Savage about the ongoing battle to legalize same-sex marriage in California. Savage is the author of the popular syndicated sex advice column "Savage Love."

Hughley: On November 4, the same day Barack Obama was elected president, voters in California approved the measure that makes same-sex marriage illegal in the state of California. Seventy percent of blacks and 53 percent of Latinos voted to ban gay marriage. So is the gay community holding minorities responsible for this? Here with me now is syndicated sex columnist Dan Savage. How are you doing, Dan?

Savage: Good. I want to jump right in there, because minority communities and the gay community aren't two separate things. There are gay and lesbian African-Americans and gay and lesbian Latinos, who have really done the most disservice by those folks in the communities of color.

Hughley: Now how do you feel? Election night, you campaigned hard for Obama, you worked hard for him. How did you feel after the election?

Savage: We were elated. I was ecstatic ... Barack Obama won. ... And then the next day, we had to sit down and open the papers and read about the approval of this measure. It was very, very bittersweet. And you know, my boyfriend and I, when George Bush won, we had a long conversation the day after. We talked very seriously about moving to Canada because we're just done with being attacked that way we're attacked in this country for our sexual orientation. And then we found ourselves having that exact same conversation the day after Barack Obama won the election because of what happened in California.

Hughley: Why do you think that so many -- the large percentage of African-Americans -- voted for Proposition 8, and Latinos?

Savage: Well, there is a lot of outreach that has to be done -- that falls to the gay community, to do outreach to voters of color. But voters of color also have to step up and take some responsibility. It's the responsibility of white people not to be racist. It's the responsibility of men not to be sexist. And it is a responsibility of all of us not to be homophobic. Video Watch D.L. Hughley and Dan Savage discuss Prop 8 »

Hughley: I have to say, honestly, I don't -- I'm not particularly homophobic. But when I read the bill the way it was written, it was a little confusing. When I read it, it asked me to make a decision that didn't -- that I couldn't quantify on the ballot. I can't, for whatever reason, is it my religious upbringing, I don't condone a gay lifestyle, but I also don't condone the government being involved in two people's affairs. So there was no place for me to vote. And I think a lot of black people I talked to found themselves in the same quandary. Had I been more religious, maybe I would have voted yes to ban.

Savage: It needs to be articulated around religion and homosexuality is that you can have your theology and also sign off on gay and lesbian civil rights and full enfranchisement, including marriage. You know, a lot of Christians think Jews are going to hell. Right? And yet Jews can get married in our culture. No one's attempting to strip Jews of their civil rights in our dominant Christian culture. ... Because you know what? If you're going to hell for being gay, ain't that enough? Ain't you going to suffer enough when it's all over? Do you really need to be persecuted here on Earth too?

Hughley: Here's what I think. I've seen a lot of people, gay activists, make the comparison of basically equating their struggle with the struggle of black people throughout the civil rights era. And that hits me even me kind of wrong.

Savage: And me too.

Hughley: Because historically, millions of people died and they were disenfranchised. Some of them couldn't have a name. This is about one segment, like to be married. And I think that that is none of my business. But I also think that what you asked -- I've never met a black atheist. I never have, because we are so rooted in theology, we are so rooted in all these things, that even me, who -- I'm not a regular churchgoer -- had a hard time going, this is -- this goes against what I was taught.

Savage: Which is why it's up to the gay community to explain why we're not trying to challenge you on your theology. I think African-Americans will always have claim to the civil rights movement, capital "T," capital "C," capital "R," capital "M." Ours is not the civil rights movement. But ours is a civil rights movement, lower case C-R-M. It is a struggle. You get fired because you're gay, you get fired because you're black, you're still out of a job. If your house gets burned down because you're gay, burned down because you're black, you're still out of a house and maybe dead. Hate is hate. I'm not equating the experience with the history at all. But we are making a civil rights demand.

Hughley: But I think what happens is that marriage, regardless of the legal aspects of it, are seen mostly religious. You stand before God and you vow to love and to cherish this woman or this man. And so I think people have a -- I know particularly people that I talked to -- had a hard time unhooking the religious component from the civil.

Savage: But we've long unhooked the religious component from the civil component because you can go to city hall and get married and God will not be invoked. Those are the marriage licenses that we want. We don't want to storm into anybody's church and force anybody's preacher or any religious person to observe our wedding.

Hughley: So you want to be married. But what about the compromise which people put forth, which is civil unions?

Savage: Right, which no one was offering us until we pressed for marriage. So you asked for the moon and maybe you get the stars.

Hughley: Was that the point? You wanted something --


Savage: No, I think we want full civil equality, we want full civil marriage rights. But in the meantime, maybe we would take half the loaf.

Hughley: Well I'll tell you what, being black, I can tell you, you got to march a little while longer and then it might happen. I promise. Look how long it took us to get a president. I hope it works out for you. One thing I don't understand is the government involvement in our bedroom. They can't even deliver my mail.

All About Same-Sex MarriageDan Savage

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