I missed the sparring that went on regarding Proposition 8 while on my little blogging vacation. Sorry I missed the fun, but with the State Supreme Court about to hear arguments regarding the validity of the proposition, it looks like I will be able to get my thoughts in, but I don’t think the Proposition 8 opponents are going to like what I have to say.
First off, I was a fierce opponent of Proposition 8 and was offended that in the year we elected Obama, the so-called values voters decided to take rights away from people because a book that says to kill people if they eat shell fish also told them being gay is an abomination. In a state that has turned down Parental Notification three times, in a state that voted to spend money on clean high speed rail, in a state that gave freedom to chickens and pregnant pigs, there was no reason in the world why Proposition 8 should have passed. Basically the NO on 8 camp lost this election, they have no one to blame but themselves.
First and foremost, the No camp under-estimated the enemy. I don’t know if they assumed that the religious conservatives would put up the same mediocre effort they had for the two previous parental notification initiatives or assumed the first polling that showed them winning big time made them complacent or both. Yet one reason the opponents of PNI have managed to fend off this initiative is they go in with the mindset that the religious right is going to put up one hell of a fight. They fundraise as if doomsday is on the way, and each time they came out on top. I noticed early the religious right in California seemed to be taking greater umbrage at gay marriage than a woman’s right to choose and I knew THIS time they were going to put up one hell of a fight.
To understand their thinking, one has to look at the concept of “Separation of Church and State.” The religious right is all about dismantling this wall and dissolving the rocks that built it. In other words, imagine Iran, that’s the vision these folks have for this country, only the religion is their vision of Christianity. Essentially what the State Supreme Court did was separate religious marriage from secular governmental marriage i.e. marriage licenses. The Court basically left it up to the churches to decide who they wanted to marry, the state could not make that discrimination. Of course the religious conservatives lied during their campaign and said they could lose their tax exempt status if they denied gay couples. Completely not true. All the Supreme Court did was state that the county clerks could not discriminate, much like they did in 1948 when they got rid of bans on inter-racial marriage.
Essentially, the religious right was like a cornered pack of rabid Wolves yet the NO camp treated them more like a cornered Chihuahua. From the start, I saw a campaign that did not have a clear message. They tried the same empathetic message from the Parental Notification campaigns, which was a critical error. Even though the Reproductive Choice movement and the Gay Rights movement have a common enemy, different approaches need to be taken when trying to “take the hill.” A good message on the issue of Choice doesn’t always translate into a good message for Same Sex Marriage.
Of course most people I encountered said they also never anticipated the Mormons coming on so strong. Yes they are a relatively new opponent in the California Culture War, but again the No side should have been ready to fight back. There is no reason in the world they should have lost, yet they did. In Part 2 I will examine more on the passage of 8, why there is no excuse to be having a court date this week and how to get the right back in six years if things don’t go as planned at the Supreme Court.