Betty Peters is a vibrant 67-year-old retired artist and Forbestown resident who loves using her boundless energy to help others, especially in times of crisis. During the summer’s spate of fires, for instance, she baked hundreds of cookies for weary firefighters stationed at the Chico base camp. She also gathered and delivered food to hundreds of evacuees—and firefighters—in Concow during the disastrous blazes. Most recently, though, she is helping another urgent cause: the fight against Proposition 8—the California ballot initiative that seeks to ban same-sex marriage. Peters isn’t battling for herself, but the issue lies close to her heart. Only her dearest and trusted friends have known that Michael, her only son, has been openly gay for about eight years. But with his rights on the line, she’s decided to have a coming out of her own.
Have you always been an activist?
Not really. I haven’t. I fight for small rights, but nothing big. When my son came out I decided I would spend the rest of my life working for equality for gay people and all people, but especially gay people. The reason I’m working so hard to help the gay community is because I believe as a Christian that God’s love is unconditional, and his love includes equality for all people.
What’s your main message to voters when it comes to Proposition 8?
Please don’t let the issue scare you into changing our constitution to where it takes away our human rights for any group. I truly believe that two men getting married doesn’t affect a man and woman’s marriage in any way whatsoever. They all have a right to love each other under equal rights. Love doesn’t know who’s loving. It’s just God’s love.
What have you been doing to get that point across?
I’ve gone to gay prides with my “proud mom” shirt on, and I went to my first political rally in Chico last Tuesday. I manned a table in a mall by myself for No on 22. I remember Matthew Shepard every year on his birthday, which I promised his mother when I hugged her in Chico. And I’ve made hundreds of rainbow “No on 8” tags that I’ve pinned on people who promised me—as a mother of a gay—they would wear them every day. I’ve also helped many people register to vote.
How important is this issue to you?
It’s very important because I want my son, who was baptized a Christian, and who has lived his whole life as a Christian, and who has lived his life as an amazing artistic human being, to have the same rights as anybody else in this state. A large sign in my home says it all: Discrimination hurts everyone.