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The blame game...


"Blacks lost us Prop 8!"

Yeah, right.

There was a groundswell of black voters in California this cycle, true. They're still only a large enough voting block to really make a difference in races with tight margins like the Prop 8 race.

It's slicing up the electorate in ways that don't really make sense. The bigger issue is churchgoing and evangelical voters. Here are the "yes" numbers from the exit polls:
  • weekly churchgoers: 84%
  • white evangelicals: 81%
  • white protestants: 65%
  • Catholics: 64%

All of those groups are larger than the black vote, and the first and last include many black voters. Still, that's even slicing up things too simply (well, except white evangelicals). There were faith groups campaigning against Prop 8.

A big bunch of the blame rests with the "No" campaign. The advertising was sucktacular. So much time was spent countering the lies of the "Yes" campaign that our message never got out.

I don't know, though, that the "No" campaign knew how to get our message out.

Where were the "A 'yes' vote is a vote to end our marriage" ads?

Where were the ads featuring interracial straight couples recalling when their marriages were illegal?

Where were the ads featuring supportive ministers of all faiths and denominations asking for the right to perform same-sex marriages?

Where were the ads showing that, while domestic partnerships in law confer all the rights and responsibilities of marriage, we continuously have to fight to get organizations and people to obey that law and grant us our rights?

Where was our narrative?

Oh, and where were the ads featuring Governor Arnie, who constantly walks a tightrope claiming one thing and doing the opposite?


( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:16 am (UTC)
The "No" campaign started in a place of complacency when they saw the polls looked good for the cause, then had to play a frantic game of "catch up" when the "Yes" campaign acted and performed like a professional political campaign.

(I can't help but wonder what would have happened if the "No" campaign had been run primarily by lesbians instead of gay men. In my experience in community activism, if anything in the gay "community" gets done, it's usually being done by lesbians. :-)
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:22 am (UTC)
From a "community" perspective, we've got to look at how the Obama campaign ran its operations and empowered its local volunteer leadership.

We need that sort of organization in queer political movements.

Obama is probably going to continue to need the organization he built to counteract the conservative media spite-factory.
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:32 am (UTC)
Having worked the phones for this, I can tell you that the script that had been put together was designed to not raise any hackles, nor challenge anyone in any way. In other words, it was passionless. And I think that more chances needed to be taken--that when someone responded with "I'm voting yes because I don't want my kids to learn about homosexuality in school", or "I'm voting yes because it's Gods law", that there should have been some engagement. Instead, it was "I'm sorry that you feel that way and I hope that you will reconsider" click (I'm paraphrasing the actual script, but that's damned close to it.) The Yes on 8 people were playing on fear and using lies. I don't suggest that the No on 8 people use lies, but they should have addressed them and brought them more to light for what they were.
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:40 am (UTC)
Where were the ads featuring gay families with kids asking that their kids and families remain protected and equal under the law??
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:50 am (UTC)
This is why we should never have civil rights issues put up for a popular vote.
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:54 am (UTC)
I'm AMAZED such a thing could even be allowed, legally. You don't protect a minority by throwing their rights to the whim of a majority vote. Segregation would still be in effect if it had been put to a majority vote.
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:04 am (UTC)
That is in fact the essence of the ACLU suit -- that equal rights guaranteed by the main part of the California Constitution (the CA Supreme Court decision stated that the right of any couple to marry was such a right) *cannot* be amended away by popular initiative. They can only be removed by *revision* of the constitution, which requires acts by both houses of the state legislature and then approval by the voters. It's a much more rigorous requirement.
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:52 am (UTC)
As far as "interracial straight couples", I had earlier asked at several places if we could be in such a sort of thing, but had gotten no answer. I guess we're too young (we were toddlers in '67 and not yet born in '48), and neither of us is black enough. :p

(Or maybe I'm not straight enough, although my marriage is heterosexual...)
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
I think ladycelia has it right; the leadership of the campaign didn't want to challenge people, they only wanted to challenge the "Yes" campaign ads.
Nov. 11th, 2008 12:59 am (UTC)
Those are great ideas for ads. I donated $$$ to the No campaign specifically so they could get more air time for their ads, but I don't watch much TV so I'm not as up on what they ran. Did they do anything on how "separate but equal" is not really equal?
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:05 am (UTC)
"Separate but equal" is a bit too logic-driven for a political ad. Personal stories are what change minds.
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:06 am (UTC)
Maybe I'm on different mailing lists, but I received about 5 paper flyers with very slick 'no on 8' ads painting the issue as "hey, we're just normal everyday folks like you who want to marry, just like you do." One SJ Merc. columnist mentioned these too as being very classy & 'rising above the fray.'

IMO, the problem was no church outreach, but that's also a problem of legitimacy. We're not really there, we *don't* have support there, so we can't easily work within that system. Frankly, the number of "supportive ministers of all faiths and denominations" is a lot smaller than the unsupportive religious leaders & groups (or at least the 'yes on 8' religious leaders have bigger congregations).

On NPR, several black activists spoke out against the idea that 8 had any similarity to interracial marriage laws. That's a HUGE perception problem within racial minority communities & has been for decades. It's similar to the divide between women of color & white women in feminist circles.

The problems are deeper than just one campaign.
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:15 am (UTC)
I don't think we got any print mailers on Prop 8. Sounds like there was a distribution issue (or both sides assumed they had our neighborhood).

Church outreach was crap. Still, there were faith groups campaigning against 8, including a very regular 1/3 page ad in the Merc the last few weeks.

There are black leaders and activists who don't see the connection between gay rights and the greater civil rights movement. This is no surprise; the connections made at the Stonewall riots and protests where Black Panthers sat together with lipstick lesbians from NYU didn't last very long.

Still, that's not the point.

Television ads featuring religious leaders speaking out against 8, even if they were in the minority, would expose the cracks in the supposedly monolithic faith communities, and would challenge people to think.

Television ads featuring interracial couples speaking out against 8, even if they weren't in the mainstream of racial minority community activism, would expose the cracks in those communities and challenge people to think.

Television ads featuring queer members of racial minorities would have put a personal face on the issue and possibly challenge people to relate, just as Obama's election put a new face on the US presidency.

Edited at 2008-11-11 01:35 am (UTC)
Nov. 11th, 2008 02:39 am (UTC)
I saw *a lot* of the advertising, TV & print, for both sides. IMO, the 'no on 8' campaign threw the kitchen sink at the populace & got a split vote. The 'yes on 8' campaign hammered home two lies -- school indoctrination & churches losing nonprofit status -- & those resonated a little more strongly with the ppl who came out to vote.

The 'no' campaign also overestimated/misread the Obama effect: Dems did not overwhelmingly vote against 8.

You can nitpick a few ads & say they needed more, but this was the costliest ballot measure the U.S. has ever seen (on both sides), so I don't think more ads with different messages would have been the perfect thing.

Outreach into foreign territory? Yeah, that would helped, but that's extremely difficult unless you have authenticity. Where are these multicultural & religious leaders who are powerful & charismatic enough to carry some weight & truly bridge between the evangelical communities & the LGBT communities?

I can't go knocking the campaign bec. they at least tried & harder than anyone has tried in any state on any similar measure. I lay the blame squarely on the people of California who voted for that hateful prop., who didn't pay attention, who sucked up the lies, who let their religious views taint their participation in government. The biggest excuse I've heard in various news sources for voting 'yes' was Biblical. Fighting that takes a lot more than some well-crafted ads.
Nov. 11th, 2008 02:52 am (UTC)
I don't think any outreach could have reached the evangelical or Mormon communities.

Where religious outreach would have helped was with all the other Christian denominations. There's a very strong socially liberal Catholic tradition that's often at odds with the hierarchy (which is why the exit polls showed only 65% of Catholics voting "yes"). Mainstream Protestant denominations are often inclusive and socially liberal. Religious outreach would also have probably been successful with non-Christian religions.

Finally, religious outreach might have even convinced some of the evangelicals and Mormons that voting their religious beliefs into law might come back to bite them when some other religious group attempts to do the same thing.
Nov. 11th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
I'm thinking "gay" is the "invisible minority", especially within other minority groups. People's hearts need to be touched and their eyes opened, to GET A CLUE that gay people ARE part of their communities, are their friends and neighbors, have been there all along.
Nov. 11th, 2008 02:23 am (UTC)
The paper mailers that I received really played on the "friends & neighbors" angle, & that first ad w/the parents talking about their two daughters (one straight, one gay) did too. And yet ppl complained that this angle was too soft, didn't counter-balance the lies of the 'yes on 8' campaign, blah blah blah.
Nov. 11th, 2008 02:54 am (UTC)
The campaign never made use of our strongest arguments. That's my big issue with the campaign.
Nov. 11th, 2008 07:58 am (UTC)
Yeah, but did these ads feature white people, and were they targeted to mostly white communities? (The only mailings I recall getting here were from the "yes" campaign, probably because they know our liberal and affluent town is very "no" oriented.)

What kind of "no on 8" mailings were targeted to communities of color (if any were)?
Nov. 11th, 2008 08:39 am (UTC)
Time to get more organized? Obama showed the way. Bottom-up.
Nov. 12th, 2008 09:55 am (UTC)
A modest proposal

May I be blunt? (OK, thank you. You're very kind.) My comment on the above posted to a private mailing list: "Now, that's the sort of advertising the "No on 8" people should have run. Next time, the campaign needs to be run by pissed-off married heterosexual meat-eaters willing to go for the jugular, instead of nice, polite guys from the Castro and West Hollywood trying hard not to offend anyone.
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )