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[icon] A half-formed thought about Prop 8 - Patti
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Subject:A half-formed thought about Prop 8
Time:02:04 am
I've heard from multiple sources that the people who voted yes on 8, and particularly those who funded the campaign, are puzzled by the vitriol directed at them right now. They don't understand why it's still happening, even though the election is over. The sentiment that I've heard more than once (and had shouted at me from an SUV last weekend) is along the lines of, "The election is over. You lost. Get over it."

This has been stuck in my brain for a while, and I've been puzzling over it. Why is the perception so different?

I think that a lot of people who voted yes on Prop 8 don't really hate gay people. They aren't really homophobic in the typical sense of the word. They just have a general mental image of what the word marriage means, and they don't really see much of a compelling reason to change it. They may well have been frightened by the Yes on 8 fearmongering, or they may not have. They may have gotten direction from their church, or not. Mostly, though, I think they just like things the way they've always been and they don't see a reason to change it.

The bit I think is missing is that they don't really understand, at either an intellectual or an emotional level, how they are affecting peoples' lives with their votes.

More often than not, the things that show up on our ballot create relatively incremental changes in peoples' lives. Vote for park bond measure and you may pay an extra $30 per year in taxes. You may get a new picnic shelter and tennis courts at the park. Vote for chickens to be able to stretch their wings and... well... you probably won't directly see much difference in your life. In fact, most things on the ballot will generally make only tiny differences in almost everyone's lives.

If you voted against gay marriage, you probably didn't see any change in your life. Likewise if you voted for it. Once you get past the hoopla and the rhetoric, most people won't see any difference in their lives. A few will, though. And for them, the difference is dramatic. It may or may not alter the course of your life, but it will certainly make a significant difference.

I think this is the big disconnect-- the people voted yes on 8 don't really see or understand what a huge difference it makes to people. For most of the voters, it's a completely academic exercise. The reason they're so puzzled by the outrage is because they feel like they've voted against a new tennis court at the park, not fucked over peoples' lives.


I wonder how many votes could have been swayed if No on 8 had played this card?

"Five years ago, my partner of 30 years got sick. (these three bad things happened, that wouldn't have happened if we were married.) Don't (dramatic language for what happened.) Vote no on Prop 8." That would have put a very human face on the issue, and maybe touched some voters.
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jnala
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 10:31 am (UTC)
I think the No-on-8 people did a very poor job of explaining why it's *not* just about a word - the argument "but gay people *already* have all the same rights" mostly went unanswered. Yeah, it'd still be worth fighting if civil unions really were the legal equivalent of marriage, but the fact that they're *not* is a pretty important tidbit for voters to know, and even searching through the No-on-8 websites I didn't find much about that.
(Reply) (Thread)


terrencechan
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 10:46 am (UTC)
Good post, and I think you've got it right.

As a libertarian, I'm obviously disappointed that Prop 8 passed. But I can't conjure up any very strong emotions about it since a) I'm not gay, and b) I don't live in California.

Therein lies the problem. You take a person like me who is both sympathetic to the cause and whose ideology strongly supports the cause, and that person *still* doesn't care enough to get very upset about it. Much in the same way that I doubt I could get my non-poker friends to actively demonstrate against the UIGEA, it's going to be hard to get a straight person to actively demonstrate against Prop 8.

And that's the big problem when you allow issues of fundamental personal freedoms -- as well as commercial freedoms -- to be decided by the tyranny of the majority. As Patri has said, don't hate the people who voted Yes on 8, hate the system that allowed them to do it.
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jcdill
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 03:26 pm (UTC)
One of the big lies Yes on H8te spread was "gays in SF have domestic partnerships which is the same thing as marriage, so they don't need to get married". We know a domestic partnership is not the same as a marriage, and only those who live IN SF can register for a domestic partnership, and there are many gays who live outside SF. The No on H8te voters don't know these things. They don't understand why the right to marry the person you love is important to gays because they think gays already have "the same rights" which is nonsense.

An effective way to drive this point home could be made by using reverse tactics - introduce a proposition to change California's constitution to prohibit divorce AND to not recognize divorces from other states. After all, if we (Californians) really want to "defend marriage" the biggest danger to marriage is the right of divorce, and the "bible says" that marriage is "until death do you part". If we "care about the children" we will create more barriers to divorce so that people think harder before they get married, and work harder to stay married. Children are in far more danger due to the careless attitudes of those who get married, have children, and then later divorce, than they are by "gay marriage" per se.

Oh, and the law should be retroactive, so any divorce one already has is invalid and you remain married to the first person you married. Of course, this will cause legal chaos, such as when one party in a marriage was previously married. E.g. Bob married and then divorced Alice and then Married Carol. Bob would now be married to Alice, but who is Carol married to? :-)

This would drive home how absurd it is to try to abolish the right to marry and divorce, for anyone.

Of course, this wouldn't really get anywhere, but it's an interesting idea.

So, the next step would be to take a cue from Obama's campaign and get out the ground game. Go door to door in every precinct that passed H8te, and speak with every voter in every household so they understand why the right to marry the person you love is important and should be available to everyone. Especially in minority areas, where minorities who didn't have the right to marry the person THEY loved as recently as 50 years ago should be sensitive to the effects of discrimination and more receptive to the Yes on 8 argument. Start NOW, so when this comes up again we have made gains that can't be so easily taken away by misinformation TV and Radio ads by the Yes on H8te supporters.

Another idea would be to go to the kids, go to the schools. Children understand fairness, and really don't like it when things are unfair or when they aren't allowed to pick who they are friends with. Convince the kids and let the kids convince their parents. It would also neutralize the argument and fear that kids are "going" to be taught about gay marriage - teach them about it anyway (in an age-appropriate way, of course)! If we can't get access to the schools themselves, then do it on the sidewalks. Talk to kids coming and going from school. Talk to parents who are dropping off and picking up their kids. Go to the playgrounds and talk to parents and pre-schoolers. Go to games and talk to kids and parents on the sidelines.
(Reply) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:00 pm (UTC)
Domestic partnerships are a state law. Has nothing to do
with San Francisco.

Probably not a good idea to try to influence minors. That,
after all, was one of the principal 'fear' arguments the
Yes on 8 campaign used, and it seemed to be effective. We
don't need some incident with a kid, their parent, and a No on 8
person getting translated into a television ad.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 10:17 pm (UTC)
One of the big lies Yes on H8te spread was "gays in SF have domestic partnerships which is the same thing as marriage, so they don't need to get married".

Among other things, I would have run ads showing two water fountains saying something like "You already have a water fountain."
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-15 12:49 am (UTC)
Heh. At first I had no clue what you were talking about.
I thought you meant the two water fountains were talking
to each other...

I get it now, but I wonder if the cultural reference is
so ancient and not as well known as seats on a bus that
it would not have any effect.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


evwhore
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-17 02:07 am (UTC)
The reference may be lost on others, but I think black people will get it, which is the point. And it seems like a better analogy than bus seats.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


brec
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-15 12:37 am (UTC)
...minorities who didn't have the right to marry the person THEY loved as recently as 50 years ago should be sensitive to the effects of discrimination and more receptive...
They should be, but more than twice as many blacks voted yes as voted no.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-15 12:53 am (UTC)
I've seen detailed, precinct by precinct analysis (along with
a discussion of how exit polls are done that suggests that the results for AA's may not be statistically reliable) that suggests that this ratio is likely to be exaggerated, although the
effect is undoubtedly present.

(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Deleted comment)

jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:01 pm (UTC)
California is generally considered cutting edge.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


elfs
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 04:56 pm (UTC)
I think Dan Savage has another important piece of the puzzle, too. The Yes people don't understand queers at all. The easiest thing to do as a gay person is to fit in, to hide; it's not like skin color or facial features or some other visible characteristic at all. The closet fits nicely, if you let it, because it's easy.

Gays only get upset and fight after they've been bashed. After they've been outed. After the violence becomes unacceptable. Now that rights that existed have been taken away, moral violence to existing marriages has become unacceptable, and now the gay community understands what's at stake.

That's why it's still going. And that's why it's so vitriolic. Now that the pain is obvious, it's time to take the fight back to those who would inflict it.
(Reply) (Thread)


rcfox
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:11 pm (UTC)
Given where I live (Orange County), I suspect most of my friends and neighbors voted for Proposition 8. Mayor Newsom had a huge impact on the vote--the commercial where he was quoted, "...whether you like it or not..." really resonated here in OC.

The methods currently being used--protesting at churches--is only going to harden opposition to gay marriage. The people who are very religious are not going to support this issue, and there's little you can say that's going to change their minds. Only time, and persuasive arguments, will have an impact. The current protests will have the opposite effect.

While I understand the difference between civil unions and marriage, most don't. As long as civil unions and domestic partnerships are equated to gay marriage in the minds of those who voted for Proposition 8, a measure legalizing gay marriage won't pass.

I hope I'm wrong on my estimate (20-25 years until legalization), but nothing I've seen in recent days has caused me to change that estimate.
(Reply) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:18 pm (UTC)
You were very wrong about your 60% figure, and you are likely
very wrong about 20-25 years, assuming you mean California.

See an upcoming link on my journal for an analysis.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:41 pm (UTC)
Orange County voted 58%-42% for Proposition 8.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:17 pm (UTC)
Some percentage are homophobic. Some are following the dictates
of their religious leaders. This probably explains most of the
25% who voted Yes in San Francisco itself (see front page of
today's Chronicle).

But there are many others who live in a completely different
reality. People who live in Kern county (which
I think had one of the highest 'Yes' votes) don't live in the
'real' California, to not coin a phrase. They live, for most intents and purposes,
in a very realistic simulation of Kansas. It's not just religious
issues, its deep cultural issues. Its taboos.
T
(Reply) (Thread)

(Deleted comment)

jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 05:40 pm (UTC)
Protest has no value in California per se, other than to provide
a mechanism to organize people for a fight in two years.

However, there are upcoming battles in other state legislatures, specifically New York and New Jersey, IIRC. Nationwide protests
could have an influence on legislators there, especially coupled
with efforts to contact said legislators spawned from protests.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 06:13 pm (UTC)
A lot of it is just the old ACT-UP spirit: "We're here. We're queer. Get used to it." I think raising visibility and awareness is good.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)

(Deleted comment)

whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 11:09 pm (UTC)
Do you know what those people were doing before the election? Maybe they were making phone calls, going door-to-door, producing (admittedly lame-assed) commercials and ads, or any number of things. Right now, there's nothing much I *can* do but protest.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


elfs
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 08:36 pm (UTC)
A potential queerbashing is never as enraging as as actual queerbashing. Backlashes are a tradition going all the way back to Stonewall.

Now is the right time to assemble mailing lists.
(Reply) (Parent) (Thread)


jpmassar
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-11-14 11:41 pm (UTC)
Here's an interesting perspective on a very related
Prop 8 question

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2008/11/14/171338/34/989/661096
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[icon] A half-formed thought about Prop 8 - Patti
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