Patricia Nell Warren

Yes on 8 Perpetrators Should Be Prosecuted

Filed By Patricia Nell Warren | October 28, 2008 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Fundie Watch, Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: businesses blackmailed, permission to publish children's pictures, political extortion, Yes on 8

Putting out the negative election propaganda is one thing. Committing a crime while doing it is another. In my opinion, the Yes on 8 people have broken the law big-time with their recent attempt at extorting money from businesses that went on the public record as opposing Prop 8.

ProtectMarriage.com sent out certified letters to businesses that had made donations to Equality California, a leading nonprofit that is campaigning against Proposition 8. The letter baldly threatened: "Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com... Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage....The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published." The letter was signed by four of the organization's executive committee members, including one Catholic and one Mormon, as well as an attorney.

Some people on our side have been pussyfooting around the nature of this crime. Some called it "a bit Mafioso." A bit? No kidding. An AP story went even softer, calling the letter "an offer." Indeed. This sure sounds like textbook blackmail and extortion to me...one of those "offers that you can't refuse."

It's the kind of thing that organized crime does in a neighborhood. "Pay for our protection or terrible things will happen to you." In California, blackmail and extortion are usually charged as a felony. The issue must come up a lot, because a California law firm has a whole info & advice page on these two crimes. Check it out.

I hope these businesses are taking their case to the California state attorney's office and asking them to prosecute ProtectMarriage.com.

As if that contempt for the law wasn't enough, the Yes on 8 Campaign outraged the parents of several minor children by featuring the kids in a TV ad without their permission. The children, and several parents, had gone on a non-mandatory school field trip with other children who wanted attend the lesbian wedding of a favorite teacher. News footage captured the children there at the event. The Yes on 8 people featured the footage in a TV ad aiming to show that allowing same-sex marriage would subvert the minds of children.

The angry parents (who oppose Prop 8, by the way) have demanded that the ad be taken off the air, and they contacted the San Francisco Chronicle to speak on their behalf. They used the words "exploitative" and "shameless" for the Yes on 8 actions.

Contacting the Chronicle? How about contacting a good lawyer? Last I heard, it was against the law in California to publish a minor's picture without the parents' consent.

I'm not a lawyer, but I am remembering my own attorney asserting this opinion some years ago, regarding a situation I knew about. An LGBT organization had mindlessly outed several minor gay teens by publishing their pictures in a safer-sex ad. The kids had no idea they'd been used in this way till they saw their faces on fliers and posters all over the city.

In this case, the legal issue was that the organization had failed to obtain the kids' parents' consent. If the organization had had its brain in gear, it wouldn't have considered using the pictures, because the kids -- who were in a youth program run by the organization -- were attending on a closeted basis, and weren't out to their families. But the organization was stupid, and ran the pictures without even telling the kids that they were doing it. Long story short, the organization would have been a sitting duck for a huge lawsuit. When the parents found out about it (copies of fliers reached them), the only reason they didn't sue was lack of money.

In some states, if you appear in a "public situation" and are captured in news footage, you are fair game and your image can be used without your consent. But in California, a big media state where so many celebrity families have issues about their minor children and photographers, the law is a bit more restrictive, my attorney said.

So in the case of the Yes on 8 ad, these parents may have a legitimate issue about failure to obtain consent. Especially since they oppose Prop 8. Contrary to their own beliefs, the ads were callously used to attack them and their views.

The point is -- the religious fanatics who oppose same-sex marriage believe that they are above the law. They are confident that they don't have to answer to any human authority because "God wants them to speak out." So I hope they get some jail time for the extortion. And I hope they get socked with big punitive damages to boot.

A friend of mine who is an old hand in the political PR scene feels that the righters know exactly what they're doing by breaking the law this way. If they're prosecuted by our side, they will use that fact to build their image as "martyrs" and hope to get more sympathy and more votes from the "undecideds" -- especially since it looks like the Prop 8 vote is going to be close.

If that's the case, then better we prosecute them after the election. But to me, the idea of letting them get away with these offenses is unthinkable.

Many Americans complain that there is too much litigation, and I agree. But when the law is broken by somebody in the course of their political efforts to trample all over you, that is the time to use the law in your own defense. These incidents show how the religious right will stop at nothing to win all the elections this fall.


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Fuggeddaboudit. No prosecutor has the cajones to take that up before the election.

Wait. Maybe a couple female prosecutors do.

Nah, limp backbones.

I wouldn't go so far. If anything, the campaign should be prosecuted based on its specious ads, not the letter.

As I said, I'm only expressing my opinion...I'm not a lawyer. We can let the legal eagles duke it out on whether there are grounds for prosecution.

Sorry, I misspoke. I did not mean to imply that X or Y would be more prosecutable or not. I should have been careful so as to clarify that I found X more heinous than Y.

Although I could certainly use a lawyer at the moment, I hesitate to talk about "sides." We have supporters and detractors everywhere. Thinking of this as "us against them." proscribes the potential for consensus and collaboration.

This may sound touchy-feely, but perhaps we should reach out to these groups, mediated if we have to, and try to find common ground based on our interests and values. We seem to be so stuck in our positions: Gay marriage is wrong/Gay marriage is a right, that we have stopped listening to each other. Dialog can go a long way. At the very least, we could leave the discussion with a greater understanding of the people behind the positions.

With all respect with your sincereity about dialogue...good luck. Some years ago I was around the block with a group who were trying to dialogue with absolutists like the ProtectMarriage bunch. I also note the struggle between SoulForce and some of the fundamentalist churches, which (so far, anyway) doesn't seem to have changed the fundamentalist position much.

Absolutist believers are usually only interested in "dialogue" as a way to get you in the door so they can missionize you. They want you to submit to their absolute viewpoint.

I question the sincerity with which the fundies hold their beliefs. Yes, I know they're against same-sex marriage. But I don't think it has to do with any logical reason they spell out, and I think they make those "arguments" in bad faith.

there are people who can be swayed out there, but these folks aren't it.

Please take some time to print out these No on 8 posters to give to friends for the fight.

http://www.icyfingers.com/eliminate_hate/

The fact that the YES ON 8 folks in San Diego weren't arrested immediately is outrageous! I think it's too late: the Mormon "Church" now has infiltrated too much of our nation, and we can't recover.
I'm very concerned that Prop 8 will legalize polygamy.. That's why I'm going to leave things as they are and vote NO on PROP 8.

Religion is not merely correlated with homophobia. Rather, religion is responsible for cultivating and encouraging a large portion of our society's homophobia. Simply sated, these Christians don't want homosexuals.

Great arguments, Patricia. I totally agree.

You know they won't do it though. No elected official wants to be "the guy who went after the churches" which is what this would get spun into by the rightwing nutjobs.

If that is going to be the case, then the religious right will be allowed to get away with more and more lawbreaking than they already are.
They will get bolder and bolder, and become the "organized crime" that runs the U.S. the way the Mob used to run cities like Chicago.

WOW, Patricia. You are absolutely right on this subject. I did go 'check it out', it is clear that this is extortion and blackmail. This is a high crime and it requires us and others who support a just cause to 'raise hell!'

Nothing would please me more than to see the churches loose their tax exempt status.

All of us should be calling our state representatives, the DA, the newspapers, the Human Rights Campaign, www.hrc.org and raise a public stink. And we should do it before the election is over.

Awesome job PNW.

Best ofluck, but don't expect ANY politician to take on the religious-right. They will cower like scared little children, as they have always done, for fear of being labeled "anti-Christian". The American people have become so used to cowering to the every whim of the religious-right, they would happily commit genocide if told to. "Seig Heil, mein pastor!"

Contact:

Governor Schwarzenegger
213-897-0322 Los Angeles, CA
916-445-2841 Sacramento, CA.

LA Times
213-237-5000

Los Angeles District Attorney
213-974-3516

Barbara Boxer
213-894-5000 Los Angeles, CA
202-224-3553 Washington DC

Dianne Feinstein
415-393-0707 San Francisco, CA
310-914-7300 Los Angeles, CA
202-224-3841 Washington DC

Demand justice!

I am finally on comment Wisdoms Naked!!!

Newspaper confrontation changes little other than to keep the issues in front of those who stay at their computer, couch and offices.
Laws change -0-. Money is not the problem, time is. Courts are too remote. The victims are still a victim. The monsters are still monsters.
Police inforcing laws still infuse more sick confused peoples - while innocently running over the innocent.

The community of these families and children need to personally meet, yes after the election with the group that exploited them. They need a script discussing the damages of the exploitation.
Their need is the healing power to each of the individual youth.
Each of them need to know their personal power to say no.
Face their perp.
Accept that monsters exist.
Understand Wars are never Won.
Return to the safety of their Community.
Leave the Group that exploited them, believe it or not void
of their Power, for this time.

EarthThunder