2010 or 2012: A False Choice

Most states have their own struggles for gay marriage, whether in the long term like Illinois or near term like Maine, where a referendum is coming up almost immediately. But it is California that seems to have seized an outsized portion of the attention.

For one thing, California is by far the largest state. For another both the legislature and the state Supreme Court have voted in favor of gay marriage. But last year voters rejected gay marriage by a vote of 52 to 48 percent.

Now the question roiling California activists is whether to return to the voters to try to have the ban reversed in 2010 or in 2012. Equality California, the group that managed the 2008 effort to preserve gay marriage argues for 2012. But an apparently large group of "grass-roots and net-roots" activists calling themselves the Courage Campaign are pushing for a revote right away-in 2010.

It is difficult to take Equality California very seriously these days. They ran an exclusionary, top-down campaign, hired high-paid consultants, made several strategic misjudgments, spent $40 million dollars-and lost. Not an impressive showing. So why should we believe them now?

On the other hand, what is the Courage Campaign offering? Enthusiasm, to be sure, and a good portion of righteous indignation. But not much else. Consider what they don't offer.

Money. Will the well-off donors who made large contributions to the 2008 struggle want to repeat the process just two years later? Are they not likely to be suffering from "donor fatigue"? Rick Jacobs, Courage Campaign founder, bragged to The New York Times that they had raised $75,000 in just one day.

Fine. Do that for 460 days and you have the amount of money that Equality California spent to lose. If donors can say to Equality California, "No more money for losers," they could say to the Courage Campaign, "No money for people with no track record at all."

A Strategic Plan. If the strategy of Equality California was flawed, where is an alternative strategy by the Courage Campaign? Where is their plan to persuade cultural conservatives, religious voters and ethnic minorities to support gay marriage, to clear up the (alleged) doubts and uncertainties many mddle-of-the-road voters felt about gay marriage, to somehow lure more pro-gay voters to the polls?

Polling Data. The advocates for a 2010 vote have no polling data to suggest that the outcome would be any different from 2008. They should want polling data showing substantial gains in public support for gay marriage among likely voters before they advocate another referendum. Given the tendency of some people to lie to pollsters and purport to have a more gay-supportive or laissez-faire attitude toward gay marriage than they actually do, advocates should want to see polling data showing at least 56 or 57 percent support.

The conclusion forces itself forward that neither 2010 nor 2012 is a really good bet. What California gay marriage advocates should give us is a number-a level of support for gay marriage that would let us know that a referendum finally has an excellent chance of passage. Up to now, support for gay marriage has been growing at a rate of roughly one-half to one percent a year.

In the meantime, to hasten that result, they could work in various ways on changing people's minds about gay marriage. But no one has shown us any plans to do that. Until either side offers that, it is hard to take them seriously.

2 Comments for “2010 or 2012: A False Choice”

  1. posted by Richard J. Rosendall on

    Given the extensive analysis EQCA has done in reaching their decision to favor the 2012 date, I think it is fair to judge them on that rather than make this yet another post-mortem on 2008–other than to point out that 2010 allows less time to learn the necessary lessons because we’d be charging out of the gate in such a mad rush.

    As to the false choice, I sympathize with Paul’s comments here, but EQCA is having to deal with political realities within the LGBT movement. They would be eaten alive if they came out favoring something so indefinite. Also, as they state in their report, specifying a deadline helps focus people’s energies and facilitates organizing. This isn’t about perfect choices, but about the best available choice, in a messy political context.

  2. posted by john on

    Proposition 8. Enough already. As a gay man, you might be surprised to hear that I was not shocked that the outcome of Proposition 8 in California was upheld. Infact, I?m not so sure I would have voted any differently then the most conservative citizen of the United States of America who has little to no contact with a gay person.

    The freedom and the right to get married comes down to one thing for the gay community: respect. My mother always told me; in order to get respect, you have to respect yourself first.

    For many uninformed Americans, there is a stereotype for the gay community; sex, drugs, disease, and partying. Respect worthy? No, I dont think so. As a gay man, I am certainly aware that this stereotype is not necessarily true for the entire gay community. However, to most uninformed Americans, this is the only picture that is being painted over and over each year to remind them of how disgusting the gay community can be?. and I totally agree. It is disgusting.

    The day I can go into a gay bar and not feel like I lost my virginity from every poking finger to my ass, or shower stalls in the middle of the club for men to publicly shower in and engage in sexual acts, or bathroom stalls that are solely for the purpose of sex, is the day that I might think gay marriage is possible.

    One of the most important and influential factors to informing the uninformed about homosexuality is Gay Pride. Gay Pride for me is more like Gay Ashamed. Every year, in Chicago during the Gay Pride festival, I used to stay clear of anything north of Michigan Avenue. What I saw at Pride was shocking.

    Stop using your dicks, and start using your voices.

    If you want to be heard, keep your shirt on and your legs closed. Blow jobs in alleys, crude displays of public affection on every float, drunk gay guys making out with anyone who has a face ? I feel like I?m getting an STD just from thinking about it.

    I think pride in oneself is a beautiful thing. But I dont see pride at Gay Pride events, I see sex. And if I see it, then America sees it too.

    Gay awareness and pride is something that America needs. I think the original concept of Gay Pride was perhaps a beautiful and powerful thing, but it has become so diluted with sex that there is no pride left.

    Personally, I am pissed off by the acts of the individuals who participate in such crude events. It?s embarrassing. And that stereotype? You created it yourself, darlings.

    Don?t get me wrong, many straight individuals participate in disgusting acts as well; things like strip clubs, prostitution, etc etc? That is disgusting too, and certainly not respect worthy.

    As Americans, we are free to do pretty much do anything. We are spoiled. Yes, the government is corrupt, but so is every other government on this planet. The point is simple?. if you wanna take off your shirt and rub your body in oil while making out with the guy next to you during a parade that is suppose to help the gay community out, you have that right. I am comfortable enough in my own skin to keep my shirt ON and let my voice be heard.

    Unfortunately, many gays are not heard because we all know sex sells, and intellect does not.

    Many Gay Americans are being stereotyped because of these public displays, and It needs to stop.

    Think about any other minorities in American history that had to fight for their rights?. They had to overcome their stereotypes in some manor in order to obtain respect from an uninformed society.

    Any gay, straight, bisexual, or trans gender person that is acting out will get us nowhere.

    Come on guys, we are a minority. We already have had a bad rap, why do you keep on doing it?

    Thanks to those like Tela Tequila, Gay Pride, and (many) Gay Bars and Saloons, gays will continue to live legally single.

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