Karen Ocamb

What Really Happened at the Repeal Prop 8 Leadership Summit

Filed By Karen Ocamb | July 28, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: API Equality, Barack Obama, California Democratic Party, Courage Campaign, David Bohnett, David Comfort, Equality California, Equality Network, Eric Bauman, gay marriage, HONOR PAC, John Cleary, John Lewis, Jordan/Rustin Coalition, LA Gay & Lesbian Center, LGBT Leadership Summit, Love Honor Cherish, Marc Solomon, marriage equality, Marriage Equality USA, Paul Mandabach, Prop 8, repeal Prop 8, Richie Ross, Rick Jacobs, Robin McGehee, Sarah Callahan, Sheri Sadler, Steve Kaplan

The California LGBT community is in the throes of a transformation, catalyzed by the movement for marriage equality. In addition to the important Ted Olson-David Boies challenge to Prop 8, new grassroots and institutional LGBT organizations are struggling with each other over when and how to return to the ballot box to repeal Prop 8 in a state that is issuing IOUs. Since I was apparently the only full time reporter covering the statewide LGBT Leadership Summit, I want to report back as fully as possible. My report will be published in three parts:

  1. The demographics that challenge recent blog reports
  2. Advice from political consultants and how that was received
  3. An interview with a California Democratic Party big-wig who went largely unnoticed at the summit but who may play a significant role in the future

A blog for the San Francisco Chronicle came out fairly quickly after Saturday's statewide LGBT "Leadership Summit" in San Bernardino, California RepealProp8.jpgwith the results of a non-binding straw poll about when the LGBT community wants to return to the ballot to repeal Prop 8: "93 people voted to go in 2010, 49 in 2012 and 20 undecided."

I was there. The count's accurate but it's far from the whole story. What really happened was that a vote was taken around 5:00pm - an hour after the meeting was supposed to end and a good number of people had left - and 93 people voted for 2010 and 69 opposed that idea. The count was justified as being taken among those who cared enough to show up in San Bernardino in late July ("sweltering" is one word that comes to mind) and stay until the bitter end.

Let's look at the demographics.

At its height, the over-heated church hall was filled with about 250 grassroots activists, mostly from the San Diego and Los Angeles area - a point loudly noted by leaders from Northern California who were receiving text messages from friends watching the Unite the Fight streaming video. Their online votes on a question just prior to the straw poll about how to best create a campaign structure had been discounted.

Additionally, before the two votes, when the room was about at 200 people, I counted the number of people of color and came up with 37. I asked both a grassroots activist and an "institutional" leader - stretching the number to 40 in case I missed a couple of people in the way back or outside - and they both independently concurred.

So while the straw poll accurately reflects the wishes of that late audience, the 162 people whose votes were counted do not necessarily reflect the wishes of the California LGBT community.

The point was underscored late Sunday night in a New York Times story about how major donors to the No on Prop 8 campaign such as 3759565695_b3d482c48f.jpgLos Angeles-based philanthropist David Bohnett in Southern California and Leonie Walker and her partner, Kate O'Hanlan, in Northern California are not inclined to contribute to any new campaign without a clear strategy and high probability of winning.

While there was a strong showing among women and several heterosexuals spoke out at the summit, there seemed to be a heavy representation of young activists, few representatives of the mainstream middle (the range of working professionals), few transgender people, only one bisexual (to my knowledge) and no one identified themselves as Independent or Republican.

The Coalition of the Willing

In fact, the straw poll was actually an aberration. The previous question on how to proceed in creating a campaign came down to a tie between having a convention where regional and organizational delegates decide and having a "Coalition of the Willing" that would create a plan to present to the community. Equality Network's David Comfort, who is part of the "Coalition of the Willing," told me the coalition is moving forward anyway. I noted that the name they're using is the same term President George W. Bush used to describe the countries the US would lead in a preemptive invasion into Iraq.

Comfort's primary interest is in building a grassroots movement, using the marriage campaign as a catalyst:

"For better or for worse, the larger LGBTQ community has shown that it is very motivated by the fight for marriage equality. In order to build a grassroots movement, we need a motive force. Otherwise, it will be stillborn. The repeal of Prop 8 is such a force. We have been given lemons, from which we need to make the sweetest lemonade. Hence, in order to build upon the movement moment which arose after the passage of Prop 8, we need to overturn Prop 8 with all haste, by building a movement of grassroots organizers."

2010 or 2012: No Consensus

The "tie" or no consensus was previewed in a slew of position papers distributed prior to the summit, as well. API Equality, HONOR PAC and the Jordan/Rustin Coalition issued a statement entitled "Prepare to Prevail" outlining reasons to wait until 2012, with a slew of signatories.

In the statement, Doreena Wong, Co-Chair of API Equality-LA, says,

"From the 2008 campaign, we know that all communities in California need to be engaged for us to win - including communities of color. And from our intensive work over the past four years, we know it takes time to build the trusting relationships and strong coalitions that make education campaigns effective."

Love Honor Cherish, which has firmly committed to a 2010 campaign, responded with their own statement and a Blueprint for how to proceed. Their response, "Why we can't wait until 2012" says, in part:

"Proposition 8 passes every day, until it's repealed. That's right. When you woke up this morning, Prop 8 passed, and tomorrow morning it will pass again. Until Prop 8 is repealed by a new ballot initiative, each day will be a day in which the precious right to marry is stolen from millions of Californians - just as though Prop 8 were voted on again."

Courage Campaign chair and founder Rick Jacobs noted the success of the activist training Camp Courage events and also issued a statement:

"'The 'Prepare to Prevail' letter, along with Love Honor Cherish's compelling statement on moving forward in 2010, is part of a healthy, vigorous debate that should help to inform the community as we begin the process of choosing the best path to victory....[W]e have been building the infrastructure to win marriage equality rights at the ballot box sooner, rather than later. Our members are ready to do the hard work needed to win."

Among the groups supporting the grassroots effort to go in 2010 is the mainstream Stonewall Democratic Club out of LA. Stonewall president John M. Cleary also distributed an emotional statement called "This I Believe."

Cleary wrote, in part:

"THIS I BELIEVE: If we have a reasonable and reasoned chance at victory in 2010 - even if less than an even chance - then I am now convinced we have a moral imperative to wage this campaign. This isn't blind. This isn't in the face of defeat. This is seizing an opportunity for victory, and recognizing at the same time that a campaign has now become vital to staunching the degradation of us as a people and healing the divisions of our community. We must finally shed the despair of our defeat in 2008 and the insidious fear it has inspired. To borrow a phrase, we must instead look forward to Wednesday, November 3, 2010, when we wake up to equality."

Solomon: The Earliest Time We Can Win

Marc Solomon, director of Equality California's Marriage Project and hero of the marriage equality movement in 3759555055_e478488e89.jpgMassachusetts, noted in a May memo that 69% of those polled by EQCA wanted to return to the ballot in 2010. "We agree with you," he wrote, specifying many of the same reasons given by the grassroots: momentum, the Democratic gubernatorial nominee will be supportive, the difficulty in getting volunteers in 2012, and the TV airtime cost will be lower.

But Solomon added this caveat:

"While we believe conditions are such that there's real potential for victory in 2010, without a powerful and comprehensive campaign plan and well-designed campaign structure that is supported and owned by us all (donors, grassroots, LGBT groups--both new and established, organized labor, etc.), we believe we will fall short and lose."

On his July 14 blog, Solomon added:

"Our threshold has always been that we want to go back to the ballot at the earliest time that we have a strong chance of prevailing."

Political Consultants Weigh In

Since the Day of Decision, when the California Supreme Court upheld Prop 8, Solomon has been talking to activists, organizational leaders - and political consultants, which he blogs about, posting their responses to questions about strategy for returning to the ballot.

Here's an excerpt from Sue Burnside:

"As a professional campaign consultant, one of California's 18,000 gay married couples, the Field Director of the first same-sex marriage ballot initiative in the United States (Hawaii in 1997), and co-chair of the National Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund Campaign Board, I have both a professional and highly personal stake in the fight to overturn Prop 8.

Having crunched the demographics backwards and forwards, I am convinced that we should refrain from rushing in 2010, and instead to build on grassroots passion and strategically prepare for a "Yes on Marriage Equality" referendum in 2012. We have passionate supporters of marriage equality - but we need to convert that passion into an organized, sophisticated grassroots campaign that can systematically reach out to soft opponents and convert them into supporters of marriage equality. If we cannot harness our passion, we will not win - no matter if we are going in 2010 or 2012."

Here's an excerpt from David Fleischer's analysis:

"[T]he most scarce resource in every campaign is time. There are 66 weeks between July 25, 2009 and November 2, 2010. 66 weeks is a very brief time to raise $40-50 million. Based on my experience fundraising, and looking at the remarkable fundraising success of the No on 8 campaign, I think the minimum immediate fundraising goals to be ready for 2010 - to see if we can get on track to raise $40-50 million -- would be $2 million by October 1, 2009, and $5 million by December 1, 2009. This represents roughly the cost of qualifying for the ballot and beginning to set up a campaign. This is much less than the average weekly amount we would need to raise over the 66 weeks ($600-700,000 each week, every week). But it would cover start-up costs and demonstrate some of the breadth of support necessary to assure donors we could get to the level reached in No on 8, and hopefully beyond it."

At the Leadership Summit, Marriage for Equality's John Lewis moderated opening presentations from political consultants invited by different groups: Paul Mandabach (invited by Yes on Equality), Sarah Callahan (COO of the Courage Campaign), Steve Kaplan (invited by Yes on Equality), Sheri Sadler (invited by Love Honor Cherish), and Richie Ross (invited by EQCA).

Before the presentations, there was some debate over why the group needed to listen to experts, some saying the LGBTs in the room were experts enough. But Lewis and facilitator Vincent Jones from the Liberty Hill Foundation (the only real agreement among participants was that Jones did a good job under difficult conditions) explained that they were sticking to an agreed-upon agenda and please give some respect to the consultants who'd been invited by the groups.

There is an important deadline that intensifies the debate: September 25 is when the California Secretary of State recommends that initiative language be filed a November 2010 ballot.

This afternoon I'll continue my report on the day's events - including the firestorm over political consultants, youth, and ballot wording. Wednesday morning I'll also share my interview with the unnoticed Democratic Party bigwig that was in the room.


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Looking forward to the next parts Karen.

Thank you for reporting on this! Objectivity is sorely missing and San Bernardino is not easy to get to...I tried...

Thank you. As a person not in California I have to say that from my perspective things have seemed a mess out there from start to finish. I was astounded that the issue was lost in the first place which from looking at what seems to have gone on was based on poor planning an weak strategy and organization. Seems to me that running headlong into the line again so soon is just a continuation of a lack of organization and leadership.
But time will tell. But I do know that at this point I am recommending to friends that they not consider any donations to California since the last money train has starved so many youth groups across the nation for funding.
I can't see a point to taking money from groups that do a good job helping kids and handing to people with a gift for internal conflicts no organization and a history of turning a likelyvictory into a resounding defeat.

heysonnie | July 28, 2009 1:34 PM

Thanks, Karen.

Much of my day on Saturday was spent watching the summit online. I'd been sick all week, so I didn't want to subject others to my coughing. I also wasn't sure that I wanted to subject myself to the meeting itself; as it turned out, the latter was most definitely true.

I, too, am part of the 18,000 who married last year. I have been an activist for forty years, in elective politics (both candidates and initiatives), various LGBT causes, Vietnam War protests, church, and more--and as both a professional and a volunteer. My current loose organizational affiliation in this struggle is with California Faith for Equality (although I also identify with a number of the more grassroots groups as well). CA Faith for Equality has not and will not take a stance on 2010 vs. 2012. We will be there, no matter. We are also committed to all LGBT equality issues, not "just" marriage.

The first thing that I noticed is the typo in your first sentence. We are in the throes of a transformation (not "throws"). The dictionary defines throes as 1: pang, spasm . 2: a hard or painful struggle .

That's us. A hard and painful struggle, certainly. Hopefully, we are in childbirth, and not in our death throes.

I am concerned that we haven't yet gotten past our angry-at-our-leaders stage. I still hear people blaming Geoff Kors and others. I believe that we won't be able to successfully move forward together until we address this anger. Yes, serious, even fatal, mistakes were made in the last campaign. But now, we need to focus on those who oppose us; not on those whose goal is the same, but whose tactics are different. I think that just jumping into a room to make decisions without addressing this will only lead us into more debacles such as we saw last Saturday. I believe that we need facilitated conversations around the table. Otherwise, we'll just ending up devouring one another.

This "devouring" extends further. The online chat that accompanied the webcast included some who wanted to eliminate the voices of the political campaign experts (particularly Richie Ross) from the conversation. The we-can-do-it-ourselves sentiment was very, very strong. There were a number of reasons for this, but I think that much of it is because the No on 8 campaign professionals blew it so badly that some (particularly those who haven't been in the political arena for long) think that all campaign consultants are the same.

Well, I've gone on too long, so I'll wrap it up. Bottom line with me is that my heart says that there's no wrong time to fight for justice and equality, but my head says that if we are going to prevail, we need to take the time to do it right. The money is huge, the effort it will take is huge, but the stakes--for California and beyond--are even greater.

Again, thanks.

Sonnie Swenston
Covina, CA

Hi Sonnie,

We talked a lot in the chat room next to Unite the Fight's streaming. I think we share a lot of views.

My post on the summit, which called it an utter failure, has gotten a lot of positive feedback, but some have called me a "pollyanna" while others say I have been too harsh.

In my opinion (and I agree with Karen, we're bloggers, we have opinions), we have failed ourselves. We have turned on each other, taking our pain from Prop 8 aiming it at our brothers and sisters. We have failed to trust again and to moved forward united. We have also failed to heed our new leadership, because without leadership, it's chaos. (And we do have new leadership.)

People keep asking me over and over again to state on Unite the Fight my position on 2010 vs. 2012. And in all honest trust - I don't have one other than this: If we as a community, united together under our chosen leadership, decide on a date and a plan to win back our rights, you have my full support. But if it's fractured and acrimonious, you don't.

People have said, "Can you place a value on our rights?" If the cost is destroying our community, then the cost is too high.

Oh wow, I apologize for all those grammatical errors. How embarrassing. Passion overcomes my typing.

Sadly, this article is obviously written from the point of view of a person who wants to wait until 2012. This isn't what "really" happened, this is your interpretation of the events. Labeling it the "truth" about the meeting is dishonest and misleading.

For instance, 20 votes "undecided" aren't automatically "opposed" as you've suggested.

We need accurate reporting on this issue, yes. And by accurate I mean unbiased.

Thanks for your note.

I take your point about how "undecided" is not necessarily "opposed" - I should have been more clear. What I was thinking, given the day, was that any one who did not vote in favor of 2010 was therefore NOT in favor of 2010 - hence, opposed. But you're right.

I also ask that you read parts 2 and 3 before declaring me biased. I report and quote extensively on those who support 2010 - and part 3 is an interview with a "big wig" who sees both sides and comes down on neither.

Also - since this is blog and not "straight" news reporting, I did allow myself some space to express an opinion - which is the last part. Mostly I want people to stop the acrimony.

Radical activism is clearly not even being considered.

You will only get your rights, apparently when you can ask for them politiely and have the other side hand them to you...

It won't work.
The evangelicals are on fire for their cause.
We clearly, at least by accounts from the meeting, are not.

2018, anyone?

Hi -

I don't think radical activism is the problem. Many of us doing this work now come out of the Student Movement and liberation movements of the 1960s. In the late 1980s and early 90s, ACT UP worked well with the politicos and the pundits using different approaches - but for a common goal and against a common enemy: to stop our people from dying.

We're still "on fire" for our cause - equality, justice and liberation for all.

The situation now seems to be that the radical activism that might serve well against a targeted foe is being turned inward against our own.

Radical activism today continues to be an important strategy for winning equality and justice. Consider SoulForce's persistent civil disobedience against the antigay religious right wing, for instance, working solo and in coalition with other groups/people who do not want to be arrested.

I am not a leader or organizer - I'm a reporter. But I suspect that when and if the community gets its act together and comes up with a strategic plan for winning, part of that plan will include how bloggers and radical activists can be deployed to work for the common goal.

Thanks for being engaged.

No, Radical Activism is not the problem, Karen....it is the solution.

We will win our rights when it becomes too much of a burden for our opponents to deny them to us any more.

Those prop 8 protests sure did make people change their voting inclinations!

Not really.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | July 28, 2009 4:47 PM

The record is clear about why and how we got hammered by the right in California.

EQCA and No on 8, both run by Democrats, took an Eurocentric approach to the majority of voters in California, who are Latino, Asian, Black and Pacific Islander. No on 8, fearful of offending christian bigots, consciously ignored those communities, abandoning the field to the christer bigots. That, if nothing else, would have wrecked our chances but there was worse to come.

The second item that brought on defeat was Barak Obama. He publically validated bigotry. Speaking against same sex marriage at Warren’s southern baptist bigot fest Obama told the clapping, smirking, southern baptists that voting for bigotry was OK because the thunder god was a bigot too. He galvanized and organized the Euroamerican christian vote who voted their bigotry in droves after hearing him say “gawd’s in the mix”.

The Democrats who ran No on 8 and EQCA did nothing to counter Obama’s disgusting display of bigotry and sat like deer in the lights of the Obus as our polling numbers went south. We were winning. These are California Field Pools taken during the campaing:
1. In July of ‘08 the California Field Poll showed 42% yes, 51% no and 7% undecided.
2. By September it had gotten even better with only 38% in support and 55% opposed to SSM bigotry.
3. Then under the impact of Obama’s infamously bigoted war cry “gawd’s in the mix”, quoted in hundreds of thousands of robocalls and hundreds of radio and TV ads, things began to go sour. By October 30th the Field Poll was reporting gains for the bigots:” Field Poll Released Today Still Shows Prop 8 to Eliminate Same Sex Marriage Rights in California Behind 44% to 49% Despite Massive Advertising Blitz”.
4. Those robocalls and ads went on 24/7 until election day when we lost narrowly.


Given the combination of the gross incompetence of the Democrats of ECQA and No on 8 and the scale of our betrayal by Obama bitterness and demoralization among California activists is predictable and healthy.

The cure is the creation of a democratically run mass action campaign for SSM, ENDA, the repeal of Clintons DOMA and DADT, hate crimes – all of our agenda. To be successful these campaigns need to be free of control by the Democrats or their front groups with an elected leadership and a program and strategy based on votes of activists instead of the contributions of the rich.

Democrats and the rich are welcome to support us but not to lead us. They have a different agenda.

Jane Wishon | July 28, 2009 5:08 PM

I, too, was there Karen. (I was the straight ally that helped count the votes)

I agree that taking the straw poll so late in the day may have changed the numbers - but then there are many reasons the straw poll may have been skewed.

As for why the votes online weren’t counted? Are you kidding me? How many times have LGBT activists voted in NOM polls online? There is no way to verify who was voting.

It is my opinion, based on the polling data which showed 50% support in 2010 for a proposition that includes language that exempts religious groups from having to perform SSM, that this fight very winnable in 2010. Let’s face it, Marc Solomon has never wanted to go back to the polls in 2012 – I’ve sat in meetings with him where he has said that. It’s no surprise that he found experts to back him up in that.

The question becomes, is marriage equality important to enough of the LGBT community to fight for it?

I can't answer that question for you - I'm straight. I do know that if you step back, concede the field until 2012 or later, then people like me may not believe it is really all that important.

Not to mention that the status quo, whatever it may be, becomes increasing difficult to change the longer it is in place. Minority rights groups challenged Prop8 in the courts because of the precedent that it set in stripping one group of their rights. What happens to that minority support if 3 years pass and they see that no one is going after their rights?

You took cheap shots at the coalition of the willing – that’s beneath someone who’s claiming to be looking for unification of the movement.

Jane

Hi Jane. Yes, I remember - you sat at the table in front of me.

Thanks for chiming on. I just wanted to note that I do not think it's a "cheap shot" to call attention to the fact that the name "coalition of the willing" has been used by George W. Bush and the media to describe the coalition that invade Iraq. Those troops are about to pull out in two days and the media is using the term now - see the front page of the Huffington Post.

I was just trying to point out to David that I would guess the media would make the same association I did and perhaps they might want to consider using a different name. That's all. Not the people.

I hope you agree that people who intend to carry the message need to be media savvy.

Thanks.
Karen O.

Jane Wishon wrote "...is marriage equality important to enough of the LGBT community to fight for it?...I do know that if you step back, concede the field until 2012 or later, then people like me may not believe it is really all that important." The implication being the marriage equality proponents will lose support if they don't continue to display a passion for change now.

I strongly support Ms. Wishon's point of view not only for marriage equality but for other things people desire the support of others for. Demonstrate (not just talk) passion and the support of others and a far greater likelihood of success will follow whether it be marriage equality, other social goals or even our personal goals ranging from weight control to getting a good job.

Whether someone or a group demonstrates passion can be used as a quite effective BS detector. Sadly, much of the LGBT community, and other minority communities also, is led by people whose main passion is to demonstrate how much being a victim means to them.

I have to say that, in my opinion, this is (so far) the most accurate accounting of the summit I have seen. There is one other thing that I think people should know, though. I spoke with several people at the summit. We all had differeing opinions on when to go back to the polls. But, the one thing I found is that regardless of our opinions on that matter (and some were VERY strong opinions), we all just wanted a decision made so we could move forward. I heard over and over that no matter what is decided people are willing get on board and come together for a successful campaign. We talked about how different groups have different strengths and when combined with grassroots activists, we can have an inclusive and comprehensive campaign no matter when we go to the ballot. So, while there definitely are strong feelings and opinions out there, I and many others believe that if a date is chosen (whether it's the date we would personally choose or not) we will come together. Difference of opinion does not make us seperate - it simply helps us learn to listen and take in all concerns. When someone is ready to step up and declare we are moving forward, I expect we will see some upset at first because there will be those who wish we had chosen the "other" date. But once those opinions are expressed, we will come together...we HAVE to.

I have to say that, in my opinion, this is (so far) the most accurate accounting of the summit I have seen. There is one other thing that I think people should know, though. I spoke with several people at the summit. We all had differeing opinions on when to go back to the polls. But, the one thing I found is that regardless of our opinions on that matter (and some were VERY strong opinions), we all just wanted a decision made so we could move forward. I heard over and over that no matter what is decided people are willing get on board and come together for a successful campaign. We talked about how different groups have different strengths and when combined with grassroots activists, we can have an inclusive and comprehensive campaign no matter when we go to the ballot. So, while there definitely are strong feelings and opinions out there, I and many others believe that if a date is chosen (whether it's the date we would personally choose or not) we will come together. Difference of opinion does not make us seperate - it simply helps us learn to listen and take in all concerns. When someone is ready to step up and declare we are moving forward, I expect we will see some upset at first because there will be those who will wish we had chosen the "other" date. But once those opinions are expressed, we will come together...we HAVE to.

Jane Wishon | July 29, 2009 1:32 AM

Thanks for the reply, Karen.

Yes, apparently the coalition of the willing (a term from the summit) is now the Coalition for 2010.

I agree that media savvy is vital and it will clearly be a part of the campaign over the next 14 months.

Jane

Petra Lee | July 29, 2009 1:44 AM

Thank you for this account!! Coming from the outside, this blog seems as unbiased as you're going to get. Also coming from someone who wasn't there, it seems as there was a lot of acrimony and frustration and a bit of finger pointing? I think I'm glad I missed it!

Frankly, I prefer 2012 because my team isn't ready for 2010. As someone who has been organizing canvassing as a volunteer and starting a grassroots group within the last few months, I feel we don't have the structure, the training, and the funding yet. BUT I also don't want to drag this out to 2012 (however, between Supreme Court decisions and if we fail in 2010 due to being unprepared or not being able to convert enough people, it might be dragged out anyway). HOWEVER, I'll go along peacefully with whatever is decided.

Thanks Jane W. for your thoughts. I think the meeting was a great success. A coalition of organizations from across the state came together to discuss how to win marriage equality. 300 people sat and listened to experts, and advocates for 2010 and 2012. We learned about the Town hall forums and from activists in the field. We also spent several hours talking and sometimes arguing about how to make a decision between two dates and a campaign structure.

My first problem with your reporting is that you quote experts who were not at the summit; you quote experts that EQCA chose to promote. The experts at the summit talked about 1) the need to learn from people of color and learn how to share a message of equality that is meaningful to them, 2) that the polls indicate that if we did no work on the campaign between now and Nov 2010 we would lose but, that there is a path to victory for either year, 3) that the grassroots campaign is going to be a major factor in the victorious campaign, 4) that we must have a unified message and a strong statewide campaign and 5) that the campaign should expect to spend 80% of its funds on TV adds, but that rates for media time are 39% less in 2010 compared to 2008.
I would say that 2 of the 5 experts were more positive about 2012, one was feeling rosy about 2010 and 2 indicated that there was a path to victory in either year.

We listened to advocates for both years, and though I am partisan, I was very moved by Love Honor and Cherish's "Blueprint for Equality" and reminder that: we have momentum and energy, that Gavin Newsom and Jerry Brown, two strong advocates for SSM, will be running in 2010, that we have 3x more time than the No on 8 campaign had in 2008 (remember they raised at least 30 million and had a record number of volunteers in the period between April and Nov - 8 months!), and that, not counting the undecided respondents to the April/May poll, proponents of marriage equality are way ahead of the opponents.

When something as emotional as fighting for your rights is at stake, mixed with fear of losing and excitement of seizing a victory for our brothers and sisters (and others) you must expect heated discussions and argument. What came out of this meeting was a sense that there is a sizable coalition of people ready to get the work done right now.
We are ready to learn from the 2008 campaign mistakes, reach out to people advocating for 2012, and all the new activists who woke up on Nov 5th realizing the world was not right for them anymore.

And I agree, you are making a cheap shot to compare the coalition to defeat prop 8 in 2010 and "the same term President George W. Bush used to describe the countries the US would lead in a preemptive invasion into Iraq". But you got it mixed up - this term was used by the MEETING ORGANIZERS in a poll asking which structure do you favor for the campaign to win marriage equality.

We will proceed with a dedicated coalition to defeat prop 8 in 2010, and we will work with and within the convention model if honestly followed up on by its proponents, to win marriage equality in 2010.