Editors' note: California gay rights and AIDS activist and frequent guest blogger Michael Petrelis updates us on campaign rhetoric from the fight against Proposition 8.
(Current image being used on the pro-gay-marriage forces' site, to the right. Other signage from California's Prop 8 battle, after the jump.)
Silly me, I thought California's proposition 8, the initiative about gay marriage equality, was about gay marriage. But based on the outreach posters and materials from the No on 8 forces, the pro-gay-marriage folks, which omits the words "gay" and "marriage" altogether, I'd say the No on 8 leaders have not only de-gayed the the proposition, they've also divorced it from anything to do with marriage.
Latest tee shirt design from the anti-gay-marriage side:
Signage from the pro-gay forces in July.
Back in July, at a community town hall meeting in San Francisco with campaign leaders, I raised the matter of closeting the fight to defeat the measure. Signage at the time avoided using the word "gay," but at least "marriage" was used. Excerpted from the Bay Area Reporter account of the forum:
Later on during a question and answer session, Michael Petrelis also brought up the issue of wording, stating that Equality for All, which is the coalition of LGBT and allied organizations against Prop 8, should use the word "gay" in campaign signage. He pointed to one of the signs on the wall that read, "Vow to vote No on the marriage amendment." . . .
"Are we going to take the campaign out of the closet?" Petrelis asked. "I don't like the sign. I'm fighting for 'gay marriage' on the sign."
But longtime bisexual activist Maggi Rubenstein countered that the campaign should "push for same-sex and LGBT, rather than gay, with all due respect" to Petrelis.
Kendell was blunt in her response to the issue. "There's no doubt that it will be very clear to everybody - it's a big ol' homo thing. You will see yourself reflected in what we're doing."
Kendell also said that the language issue "wasn't intentional or calculated."
"The campaign messaging is one of those things that's a moving target. This is feedback we will certainly feed into that," she said.
Now, I happen to respect Kate Kendall and her advocacy very much, and I believed she was quite sincere when she made these comments in July. I had hoped that at this point, less than two months from election day, there would be signage from the No on 8 campaign mentioning gays. Not only hasn't that happened, but the campaign leaders have now omitted even the word marriage from their propaganda.
Yes, I'd like to see Prop 8 consigned to the electoral waste dump in November, but I favor doing it without running a campaign effort that renders gays, and even marriage, invisible.