Thursday, November 20, 2008

Proposition 8 aftermath

I stuck my toe in the Great Prop. 8 gay marriage debate quite by accident. One of my high school classmates posted a note on our class Yahoo! Group page, asking everyone to tell their friends in California to vote “No” on Prop. 8. I posted to the Group’s blog/message board, politely scolding her and pointing out the board had been free of political messages throughout the election season. I didn’t think it was appropriate, I wrote. I added I vehemently disagreed with her, and if anyone wanted to know why, he could email me and ask. That’s how I received a message and Facebook Friend request from the former bully (cf. earlier post). So I was dimly aware of the Prop. 8 measure on the California ballot but had no idea it had become such a cause célèbre nationwide, producing about $75 million in campaign contributions from 50 states.

Prop. 8 won 52-47 despite being outspent by about 20 percent. Barring legal objections, it will become an amendment to the California state constitution. “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.” This week, a Friend and Prop. 8 opponent posted a note titled “Mawwiage” on her blog and invited comments. I jumped in and was promptly rebuffed by a series of replies, including one anonymous poster who called me an idiot and racist bigot. (He had trouble spelling “dehumanize” and did not know the difference between “compliment” and “complement.”) The one who could carry on a serious discussion, JCB, believes that once old voters die off, young, accepting, tolerant Californians will eventually repeal the amendment. I don’t agree that is what the future holds, but as a political prognosticator I’m horrible, so we’ll see what happens in subsequent elections. California wasn’t the only state that voted on gay marriage two weeks ago. Gay marriage lost in Arkansas and Florida, too.

In any election campaign, whether one is electing a candidate or voting on a measure or referendum, I think the goal of the campaign officials and volunteers is to galvanize the base to go to the polls and persuade independent voters to vote the same way. In Prop. 8’s aftermath, it appears a small but vocal segment of Prop. 8 opponents are doing everything they can to irritate and anger independent voters. The nationwide, often-ugly protests we have seen since the election, especially on the main protest day, Nov. 15, would probably make the winning margin 60-40 if the Prop. 8 vote were held today.

That is their first mistake. Their other serious mistake is attacking religious institutions that disagree with them on this issue. Michael Moore, amazingly, said it best in his book Stupid White Men. He made a list of errors that liberals/progressives make. One was the Mumia Abu-Jamal cause. (YES.) “He probably killed that cop,” Moore admitted. Another on the list was the visceral hateful stance some liberals/progressives have toward religious institutions. It’s been a few years since I read the book, but I recall Moore objected to that view and said it wasn’t helpful. Of course he’s right. I suspect even secular Americans were repulsed by the scene of a large man grabbing an older woman’s cross out of her hands and stomping on it at a protest in Palm Springs, Calif. Okay, that’s an isolated incident. Still, marching near Latter-Day Saints churches nationwide just isn’t helpful. Hey, keep it up—I don’t want gay marriage to win. But if I were working on campaign strategy, I would point to this activity and say, “Here is what not to do.”

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