Nancy Polikoff

If you read ONE article on Prop 8, make it this one

Filed By Nancy Polikoff | December 26, 2008 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: beyond marriage, coalition building, Prop 8, Surina Khan

Of course most of you have reads lots of articles about Prop 8. I've been silent about it because I had nothing to add, but today I read a piece that is so good I have to recommend it to everyone. Surina Khan, who was once the ED of the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission, has written an article on how the right got Prop 8 passed. It appears on the website of Political Research Associates, whose research on the right is must reading for anyone working for progressive social change.

The organizing efforts she describes were amazing, rivaling the organizing that got Barack Obama elected. In fact, the Yes on Prop 8 folks implemented the same strategy on election day that I was involved in as part of the Hampton, VA Obama organizing effort. Pre-election day, 100,000 Prop 8 supporters identified voters who were with them. On election day, they made sure those voters turned out; five workers in every precinct contacted those who had not yet voted to get them to the polls. (In Hampton, the woman I stayed with received 5 phone calls from Obama volunteers -- this because she had not cast her vote before 1:30 pm, when volunteers at the precincts delivered to volunteers on the phones the names of those who had voted so that those who hadn't could be contacted.)

Surina Kahn's article does more than describe the superior organizing work of the right wing leaders who developed the Yes on 8 strategy. She says:

it's important to recognize that the Christian Right's opposition to same-sex marriage is only one part of a broader pro- (heterosexual) marriage, "family values" agenda that includes abstinence-only sex education, stringent divorce laws, coercive marriage promotion policies directed toward women on welfare, and attacks on reproductive freedom.

She criticizes marriage equality as a stand alone issue and urges a broad coalition effort to strengthen diverse households and families. Among the issues she names are economic security, immigration status, incarceration, and health benefit for non-married family members.

Too often, when the marriage equality movement talks about coalition building, what it means is getting organizations with other primary missions to support marriage for same-sex couples. That is not real coalition building. Real coalition building is getting groups to work together on common concerns, recognizing the ways they rise and fall together. In the early days of the gay rights movement, we did this. The coalition that fought the attempt of the right to capture the 1979 White House Conference on Families included gay rights groups, feminist groups, reproductive rights groups, and about fifty moderate and liberal mainstream organizations. (I discuss this in my book, but for all the details you'll have to go to get an out-of-print book (try your library) -- Creating Change: Sexuality, Public Policy, and Civil Rights, edited by John D'Emilio, William Turner, and Urvashi Vaid, and read the chapter by Thomas J. Burrows, who was there through it all.)

Surina Khan was one of the drafters of the Beyond Marriage statement. She's a wise woman and this is a wise piece.

cross-posted from Beyond (Straight and Gay) Marriage


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Excellent article, but I don't foresee Christian Nationaism getting any weaker with President Elect Obama at the helm. He is quoting the Apostle Paul in some of his speeches. In these times of global economic uncertainty, unemployment, a corrupt government, rising crime, Wall Street fraud and bailouts, the public will feel hopeless and will turn more and more to supernatural "faiths" for solacing.
For Obama to state that he was against gay marriage that millions of Christians heard him say at the Rick Warren debate but made a less publicized private statement to LGBT groups that few saw that he is Against Prop 8 was an insult to reason and intelligence. Rick Warren's ad played 24/7 here in California with clips of McCain and Obama each stating they did not support gay marriage. Words matter "god is in the mix" especially when they are televised to millions across the country. Did he go on television to say he is against Prop 8 ? No, but he could have.

Yes, Chuckles, we get it, Obama's bad and evil and obviously plotting against you because he's not burning Bibles.

You're a damn one-trick pony, and you're really starting to get on my nerves. And this coming from an atheist.

Blue Field Damian
Amber seems reasonable and intelligent and doesn't hide her face.

As Custer said at Little Big Horn, "Where did all the damn indians come from?"

We are out-numbered and out-organised on this and other issues simply because; they own the conversation and own the churches where the conversation takes place. There are more christians who believe strongly on these issues, than there are people in the LGBT and straight communities that support us. They are organised at the community level, with several venues in each and every town, ready to get their message out to their followers on a weekly or even daily basis.

And our community is too busy alienating the people that wish to help them oppose the Christofascists.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | December 27, 2008 9:18 AM

Hear Hear!

Too often, when the marriage equality movement talks about coalition building, what it means is getting organizations with other primary missions to support marriage for same-sex couples. That is not real coalition building.

Sing it, Sister. I love that chorus. Can I join you on it? :)

Yes it is a big problem for the community in general that we come off as selfish and singleminded in our goals, when honestly, equality goes far beyond the issue of marriage or ENDA, or Don't Ask Don't Tell.

You know why Diabeties, heart disease, and AID's is such a problem among minorities? Because of unequal access to healthcare in this country. Sure, they can run to a well stocked emergency room in a pinch, but guess what, a lot of health problems are best treated through preventive care, rather than with an emergency visit. Working class and the poor can't afford to see a doctor regularly for health maintenance visits, so conditions go untreated until they reach an acute stage.

That is just one of the hidden inequalities in this country, and one that is costing people their lives every day. Equal access to education and employment is another couple that come to mind. Public schools are a joke in parts of this country, and I will give you a guess as to where they are and what population makes up the majority of the students.

Equality is not a one trick pony, and anyone willing to fight for their own, should be just as willing to fight for someone else's as well as their own. Here in Texas, the Byrd family saw that, and made sure that at least a part of the LGBT community was covered in the Hate Crime bill that was presented in their son's name.

Hate knows no boundaries, and has no respect for anyone besides the hater.

That's an interesting article. And thank goodness someone is calling out those "no on h8" signs.

But I think it's important to throw out that many people protesting, completely disorganized, are lacking in leadership because we as a community aren't prepared for so many people to start caring.