Prop. 8 Happiness, Disappointment

Santa Barbara Election Night Party Begins Excitedly, Ends in Sadness

Crystal Harris (left) and partner Devin Barry, who engaged to be married, attend the No on Prop 8 rally at the courthouse
Paul Wellman

Before the official announcement of the fate of controversial Proposition 8, queers and friends of queers gathered at a packed Jill’s Place on Santa Barbara Street for a No on Prop. 8 party, awaiting the newscast of election results. Among the crowd was David Selberg, the executive director of Pacific Pride.

“I feel good,” said Selberg. “We don’t know anything now, but we had a bunch of people doing No on Prop. 8 rallies. … We did all we could to make this win.”

Also there was Episcopalian priest Mark Asman, who sported his all black-and-white collar attire with a “No on Prop. 8” sticker on his breast pocket. “I think Prop. 8 is fundamentally about discrimination and, as a person of faith, I think all people should be treated fairly,” said Asman. “Good people of faith can disagree on many things, but … the fear and lies that are generated by our opponents are inconscionable and the religious leaders [in favor of Prop. 8] should be ashamed.”

Jennifer Ellison, a homosexual and personal friend of Jill Shalhoob, came in hope of celebrating the non-passage of Proposition 8. “We are the new black issue of the 21st century,” said Ellison.”It seems like it should be a non-issue. Why would you strip of us a right we already have?” Ellison married her partner Gail in July of 2008 when gay marriage became legal, but had been with Gail for 11 years previous to their legal joining. “Today we are legally married. Will we still be legally married tomorrow?”

Although the results of Proposition 8 began being counted shortly after 8 p.m. when the polls had closed, Jill’s waited until nearly 10 p.m. to tune in due to the extensive presidential coverage including speeches by John McCain and by new U.S. President Barack Obama.

When 11 percent of the results for Prop. 8’s current 56 percent majority were shown at the bottom of the news screen, cheers arose from a part of the restaurant, demonstrating to the adjacent “boos” a table over that the vote yes for a no on gay marriage was confusing, even to gays. “[The prop.] is absolutely confusing,” said Marco Silva, a board member of the Gay and Lesbian Business Association. “No means yes and yes means no.”

Despite the fact that the majority of the party left post-Obama-acceptance speech, those who stayed were in for the long haul. “The bigger cities like San Francisco and L.A. haven’t been reported.” noted Silva. “At this point of the game we have to be optimistic.”

As of midnight on election night, Proposition 8 appeared to have passed, and Jill’s slowly vacated. Silva, who stayed late, was disappointed, especially because he was planning to marry his partner but did not want his future to be affected by the urgency of the proposition. “A lot rides on this prop.,” he said. “I didn’t want to rush into getting married, but a lot of my friends did just because it may not be legal in November.”


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