Alex Blaze

Back to the California voters in 2010

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 14, 2009 5:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, The Movement
Tags: California, child care, gay marriage, LGBT, LGBT families, love honor cherish, marriage, marriage equality, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

The big question out in California among marriage advocates is whether or not to go back on the ballot in 2010. Well, I'd say it's a big question, but it looks like there won't be much discussion as some people plan on doing it whether they can win or not:

"There is a majority of the community... that favors going forward in 2010," said John Henning, executive director of the pro-same-sex-marriage group Love Honor Cherish. "The fact that some favor waiting should mean only one thing: They can wait, if they need to wait, but we are going to go ahead."

There's that "majority of the community" again. According to Love Honor Cherish's site, that statement is based on Courage Campaign's and Equality California's internal polling, so it's really a stretch to say that that's a "majority of the community."

Anyway, Courage Campaign and several other California orgs have come out in favor of putting the question back on the 2010 ballot, while API Equality-LA (Asian/Pacific Islander LGBT group), the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition (African American same-sex marriage org), and HONOR PAC (latino/a LGBT group), as well as several labor, faith, ethnic affinity, and legal groups have come out against it in a letter. The basic idea is that 2010 will be too soon and it doesn't make sense to go forward with it if they're just going to lose again.

The response is something along the lines of the quotation above from Love Honor Cherish. Because, you know, after losing Prop 8 because of a lack of outreach to communities of color, ignoring their opinions and erasing their voices is a great way to start this campaign season.

The LGBT orgs that oppose going to the ballot in 2010 have written a letter explaining their reasoning, which centers around the various reasons they think the initiative would fail in 2010. Love Honor Cherish has a lengthy response on their site that's worth reading to catch up on the debate.

It's interesting to see the debate play out, since Californian domestic partnerships already provide all the state-level rights of marriage, and federal rights aren't going to happen as a result of a ballot initiative in California. This fight would be almost entirely for the emotional and rhetorical benefits of relationships being called marriage, and Love Honor Cherish's statement on moving forward in 2010 highlights just that:

  • Kids. At any given time, more than 1.5 million children in California are of high school age - that is, between 15 and 17 years old. Of those 150,000 are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgendered. If Prop 8 is repealed in 2010, a generation of teenagers, and their straight peers, will spend their high school years knowing they can marry someday. If we wait until 2012, they will spend those years knowing that they can't.
  • Parents. About 1 million children in California are being raised by LGBT parents. Repealing Prop 8 in 2010 instead of 2012 will give these children a chance to have two more years of the stability that comes with marriage, while they're still children. If we wait, they'll never recover those lost years.
  • Seniors. There are about 4.5 million Californians over 65 years old. Of these, 450,000 are gay or lesbian. In any two-year period, more than 13,000 of those people will die. Thus, if Prop 8 is repealed in 2010, there will be 13,000 more elderly gays and lesbians who will have lived to see their right to marry affirmed by a vote of the people. If we wait until 2012, these men and women will never experience that affirmation.
  • Relatives and Friends. Another 1.5 million Californians over 65 have a relative or close friend who is gay or lesbian. Between 2010 and 2012, more than 45,000 of these Californians will die. By waiting until 2012 to repeal Prop 8, we will forever deprive these elderly Californians of the chance to go to their friend's or relative's wedding.

Personally, I find it disheartening that an LGBT organization would be saying that marriage is needed to make a stable home for children, considering how LGBT people have been raising kids just fine without marriage for decades, and, according to some research, doing an even better job that straight, married parents. We should know by 2009 that the word marriage itself doesn't make a people better parents.

I also don't really see the point to saying that LGBT youth will spend more of their high school time knowing they can marry some day. That accomplishes what, exactly? Even states that have had same-sex marriage for years, like Massachusetts, still have plenty of anti-gay bullying and gay teen suicide. Marriage won't cure that problem.

And, I hate to be the radical queer dirty fucking hippie from the 70's and point this out, but anyone can have a wedding right now if they want to. A sheet of paper from the state doesn't make the ceremony any more beautiful or profound.

Prop 8 cost about $40 million to lose, but I predict a 2010 ballot initiative would raise a lot less money, at least on our side. And some organizations that deal with providing services to poz people and queer homeless youth, like the LA Gay and Lesbian Center, are worried that, just after the State of California attempts to balance its budget almost entirely through spending cuts, there would be an even greater loss of funding to valuable services:

Jim Key, spokesman for the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, also worried that a 2010 political campaign might tap the same donors that service organizations rely on to fund HIV care, services for homeless youths and other programs at a time when, because of the economy, those programs are needed the most.

And the Mad Professah was in the LA Times saying that he doesn't think the math looks that good for 2010:

Ron Buckmire, president of the Barbara Jordan/Bayard Rustin Coalition, one of the groups that signed the statement issued Monday, said the need for more time was made clear to him this weekend when his group went door to door to talk to voters about same-sex marriage in South Los Angeles.

"It was a huge success. We had 70 volunteers, working for five hours, knocked on 1,200 doors," he said. But after all that, they identified only 50 voters who moved in their direction.

"We have to move 300,000 voters," he said. "Do the math."

Well, it's also hard to tell how little or how much the population has moved in the past few months, or will move in the next year, based on door-knocking. But the presumption should be that people will vote in pretty much the same way two years later on the same issue unless something drastic changes, and, as an outsider, I haven't see anything that indicates that enough people have changed their minds enough to overcome the additional disadvantages our side will have in 2010, like even less funding and less voter interest in a midterm election, which usually works against liberals.

It does seem like they're going to end up going forward with it, since a few people of color discussing issues like "effectiveness" and "money" won't change these folks' minds. But if polls aren't showing that at least 60% of California will vote in favor of this (enough to make up for our funding and GOTV disadvantages), there doesn't seem to be much reason to go forward in 2010.

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In California | July 14, 2009 6:34 PM

Actually, many of the POC groups have been extremely involved since the passage of Prop 8, or even before. Ron Buckmire's JRC was actually involved in the No on 8 campaign, though they were largely marginalized. Now JRC is working directly with Equality California again, who has been trying to keep up with the grassroots ever since election day. EQCA lost a lot of integrity in the eyes of the community, and despite how they treated JRC, JRC has gone back to them.

The POC groups were also part of the Poll 4 Equality coalition and had direct influence on how information was gathered (Polling was done in Mandarin and Cantonese unlike past polls). Since then, the Get Engaged Tours has occurred throughout the state with the polling presented to communities throughout who then give feedback on next steps.

This statement, "Prepare to Prevail" came out of left field from these groups. They have been involved personally with Pro-2010 groups, even signed Love, Honor, Cherish's pro-2010 statement a couple months back. Without presenting their concerns to the pro-2010 groups personally, they blast it out to the media. Many of them have also realigned themselves with the organizations that ran the No on 8 campaign, accepting staff positions, signing statements, etc.

So to imply that those in support of 2010 (which I personally am not one of) will not listen to the POC groups and are basically equivalent to the No on 8 group and will repeat those mistakes, is not correct. (Also, many of the POC groups don't support the Prevail statement and are currently working out how to proceed because they are upset about it.)

Those in support of 2010 have tirelessly reached out to the POC groups only to have this given in return. Since the statement was issued as it was, the debate now is how to proceed in unison and unfortunately, not about the very important points "Prepare to Prevail" is making.

thanks for the background info!

The statement by Love, Honor, and Cherish that kids and seniors will suffer from not seeing gay marriage pass is unbelievable. I mean, are they serious? This isn't a giant spoof of the gay marriage movement?

Do they really think that marriage is the sole defining element in people's lives?

"Between 2010 and 2012, more than 45,000 of these Californians will die. By waiting until 2012 to repeal Prop 8, we will forever deprive these elderly Californians of the chance to go to their friend's or relative's wedding."

And people think *I* go overboard in my critique of gay marriage for, among other things, its lack of logic and reductionist politics (all things = gay marriage). But surely statements like this are just begging for critique. Or at least a hoot of laughter.

Thanks for posting, Alex.

In California | July 14, 2009 8:17 PM

On this, we can agree.

I came across this comment on another blog from someone named PhoenixRising, and that person brings up a good point --especially the last one:

I'm shocked that Ron's 'gaffe' hasn't yielded specific responses

The definition of a gaffe in politics: Saying out loud that everyone knows is true.

And the openly quantitive attack he made on the Courage Campaign fantasy--that it is not mathematically possible to execute a winning campaign in the coming 477 days--is definitely a gaffe.

"Back in May, we asked our members to vote on which year -- 2010 or 2012 -- the Courage Campaign should support going back to the ballot to restore marriage equality. The response was overwhelming -- 82.5% expressed support for a 2010 ballot measure.

Right, but that was before several significant failures.

Meet in the Middle really didn't pan out, because as it turns out Facebook and checkbook require different level of commitment.

I'm relieved that someone said the unspeakable, disappointed that the POC coalition felt they had to drop the bomb and stunned that the real issue they point up--where is the MONEY going to come from, flying unicorns farting out hundreds?--is not front and center.

Also, please make the correction that one of the three groups that issued the statement is actually API (a group separate from its API Equality-Northern California counterpart).

Mitchell Halberstadt | July 17, 2009 2:58 AM

Alex, you say, "I hate to be the radical queer dirty fucking hippie from the 70's."

This is truly an occasion to invoke the slogan, "End the Hate!"

I LOVE being I hate a radical queer dirty fucking hippie from the 70's -- even if I'm giving away my age. (At 59, I'm more than happy to miss a few more weddings.)

Great article!

anotherolive | July 17, 2009 4:04 PM

I organized a group of repeal 8 folks using the support system provided by the Courage Campaign. We canvassed in my neighborhood. Straight supporters are are ready to vote to repeal, but I doubt much else. Their energy will be gone by 2012. Myself, I'll sign up to work again once the wizard behind the curtain (in other words, once all the professional activist groups figure decide without my input what is best for them) have a petition for me and others to sign. In otherwords, the movement just lost me for the next 2 years.