We were both heartened and ecstatic when the results of last Tuesday’s election were reported; they’d elected the candidate we strongly supported, and Prop 2, which mandates humane treatment of farm animals and which so many people had worked so hard on, passed with a strong majority. However, our joy was enormously constrained by the failure of the majority of Californians saying yes to what they perceive as a victory over the impending demise of traditional marriage, and no to the civil rights of the more than half a million same-sex couples who chose to identify themselves as such in the 2000 census.

When we marched among the Prop 8 protesters here in town on November 7, we were distressed to see someone carrying a sign reading, “Chickens: 1, Gays: 0” and hear similar comments during the rally. The following day, the sign was prominently displayed on the front page of the Press-Telegram and in both online media. In fact, one poster here on lbpost.com — “Angi” — took issue with the sign and its perceived message. We thank her; she said a lot of what we want to say [click here for the article].

We know full well that the gay community doesn’t have a vendetta against farm animals and are also pretty confident that nearly everyone on that march Friday night voted yes on Prop 2. But the sign and the comments read and heard out of any context of explanation gave a begrudging tone to what is a righteous demand for civil rights. It sounded like kicking the dog, and speaking of dogs, if Prop 2 had involved domestic pets, such signs and sentiments wouldn’t have been seen or heard.

Chickens, pigs, dogs, cats don’t have a voice, and the public spoke out for them. Neither of us is either gay or a chicken, and we worked to spread the word to vote Yes on 2 and No on 8, we attended rallies for both our beliefs, and donated money to both causes. We are passionate about both. Yes, we’re animal columnists and love animals, and we realize that things are said in anger and thoughtlessness that could be construed to mean something else. We talked to many people who have said that the comments came out of anger at a community not having been given their rights. They also said that it’s difficult to get over the idea that people who had the sensibilities and heart to vote for the rights of farm animals couldn’t find it in themselves to vote for the rights of another discriminated community.

We’re in complete agreement, but this concept needs more than an instant message. We’ve all witnessed a number of “reasons” that people voted yes on both emotional issues: intolerance, fear, hatred and blind faith in religious doctrine and dogma. In Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Prioress, a ladylike, religious sort, too good to be real, “would weep if that she saw a mouse caught in a trap, if it were dead or bled; of small hounds had she that she fed…but sore wept she if one of them were dead.” But she wouldn’t get her hands dirty or go against the mores of her class. It’s easy to cry over animals in pain if all you have to do is mark a ticket to vote and not get your hands dirty or go against your faith. For the most part, it doesn’t seem as if pious folk haven’t come very far since the 14th century.

Maybe chickens don’t have the universal cuddle profile that cats and dogs do, but they’re still sentient beings and deserve the rights they were voted to have. So do the pigs and veal calves. We passionately believe that animals and humans, no matter what species, culture or preference, deserve rights. We’re not going anywhere on that, and we’ll be marching and supporting the gay community with as much passion as we ever had. But please, understand what a signbyte could suggest to those who are against Prop 8 and supported Prop 2. Don’t pick on the chickens—they’re in crates and pens, without voices, and cannot defend themselves. Target instead the ones who have fricasseed civil rights: the hate-filled, the intolerant, the fearful and the blindly faithful.