Friday, November 07, 2008

Angry gays: Where were they when it counted?

I just cross-posted this at the Register's Orange Punch blog and thought it might be of interest here also:

We’ll have a piece in either Sunday’s or Monday’s opinion section (I read so many proofs today I’m a bit bleary-eyed), but it echoes some of my thoughts. We’ve seen all these angry demonstrations organized (and/or arising spontaneously) by gays in Los Angeles (and in San Francisco and Long Beach), including one centered on the Mormon Temple in West L.A. It’s not that it isn’t legitimate to criticize the Mormon church, whose members (not all of them, of course) reportedly kicked in about $20 million of the $30-million-plus the Yes on 8 side raised, some in huge quantities from out of state (yes, I recognize contributions for the No campaign came from out of state, and it’s not illegal or fundamentally illegitimate, just interesting). All this was well known before Tuesday. Where were these protesters before Tuesday? I’ll wager they weren’t out walking precincts or making phone calls or donating money or stuffing envelopes. This was a close race. If there had been this kind of enthusiasm — a little more controlled and a little less angry, to be sure — shown before the election I suspect Prop. 8 would not have passed. As it is these after-the-fact demonstrations look a bit like childish rants and I suspect are more likely to discredit the cause than to advance it.

I have a few more criticisms of the No on 8 campaign — from somebody who wanted that side to win. I think it was too timid, hardly ever (at least in the TV ads) uttering the words “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage,” which to my mind conceded the moral high ground to the other side and made it seem as if the proponents of gay marriage were ashamed of it and maybe even figured others would find it shameful. I think the “teach gay marriage in school” issue could have been confronted more straightforwardly too, conceding that if Prop. 8 were defeated those schools that had marriage in the curriculum would probably have to mention the fact that gay marriage is legal in California, but this wouldn’t be “indoctrination” or “recruitment” or propaganda about how kids had to approve it and love it. Not doig so left the campaign open to charges of being dishonest.

There was no way to get rid of the footage of Moron Mayor Gavin “whether you like it or not” Newsome of San Francisco, which I think was the single most effective thing the Yes on 8 people had going for them. But all those “taking away a right” commercials without mentioning what the right was confused people, I suspect. It might not have been a bad idea to have a few couples interviewed on just what marriage meant to them. I think the No campaign underestimated the tolerance of the people of California and that’s part of the reason it lost — besides the fact that a lot of gays who could have been involved sat on the sidelines until it was over.

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