Gay Marriage | Maine | News

Maine Couple with Twin Sons, One Gay and One Straight, Discuss Why Marriage Matters: VIDEO

Lawsons

Dan and Pat Lawson, a Maine couple married for 30 years, discusses their twin sons, one of whom is straight and one gay, about why marriage matters.

GLAAD writes: "The ad was paid for by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD) and was developed through the Why Marriage Matters Maine Project that is part of a campaign sponsored by numerous organizations to foster support for marriage equality as the issue heads to the state ballot in November."

Watch, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. So by my count, this is the third pro-same sex marriage ad released in the past month that features a straight couple and absolutely no gay people. Do we know how to make any other kind of ad? Can we hire those people who make those fantasic ads in Australia?

    Posted by: KT | Aug 22, 2012 4:07:16 PM


  2. So by my count, this is the third pro-same sex marriage ad released in the past month that features a straight couple and absolutely no gay people. Do we know how to make any other kind of ad? Can we hire those people who make those fantasic ads in Australia?

    Posted by: KT | Aug 22, 2012 4:07:19 PM


  3. Well KT, these ads may be targeted to some undecided kind of conservative people, that's why they show this cute, white, middle aged, country, straight couple holding hands and speaking pro gay marriage. I think it's a smart move. This kind of ads are more likely to be watched and listened to by some conservatives in America than those made by the Aussies...

    Posted by: ElCid | Aug 22, 2012 4:16:38 PM


  4. And this is why i'm not giving them any more money, KT.

    I'm nobody's dirty little secret. and this campaign from the closet has yet to work.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Aug 22, 2012 4:28:40 PM


  5. And this is why i'm not giving them any more money, KT.

    I'm nobody's dirty little secret. and this campaign from the closet has yet to work.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Aug 22, 2012 4:28:46 PM


  6. KT and Ben --
    Before I call you the names you ask for -- PLEASE THINK! The bad guys win these votes by appealing to parents, as they did in CA. The good guys lost in CA because their ads were all about "How dare you jerks mess with us, we are entitled"
    I would have preferred that the sons appear at the end of the ad, but the ENTIRE POINT is to reach straight people who are not yet comfortable with Gays.
    Also, it is MAINE, where being reasonable and letting folks live as they want is their thing. That is what the commercial asks.

    Posted by: Bob | Aug 22, 2012 4:39:30 PM


  7. That's a valid point, Bob, but shouldn't there be some variety in these ads? I agree that using normal people is less-threatening to many on-the-fence voters, but surely the Australian advert has the advantage of being memorable and emotional. Out of all of the pro-marriage ads I've ever seen, the one that sticks with me the most is the Australian ad, hands down.

    Posted by: Jesus Christ | Aug 22, 2012 4:46:02 PM


  8. really KT & Ben, are you fing kidding me? Do you think those Aussie and Irish ads would work in the US? Sorry buds but whatever works wins. If you put straight parents of gay kids (even the kids are in their 20s/30s you will get WAY more of a positive response than putting the gay couples themselves there. It's called RELATABILITY! Average straight couple with a gay son they don't quite accept, or average straight couple with straight friends who have son/daughter in a couple they don't quite accept, relating to a gay couple: meh, too bad. Average straight couple with a gay son they don't quite accept but who they know is deeply in love with someone they can't marry but can't, and then average straight couple with straight friends who have son who's part of a couple they didn't quite accept but now see the consequences for their friends' family: yes. It's quite simple. Great ad. Thought Irish and Aussie ones were cuter/packed more immediate emotional punch, this still aims in the right direction.

    Posted by: derek pearce | Aug 22, 2012 4:52:01 PM


  9. These ads are designed to appeal to those people sitting on the fence on this issue. Perfect! Ma and Pa Kettle are sitting at home thinking, "eh, I don't know...haven't really thought about it...is it nature or nurture?" They aren't going to relate to a cute gay couple regardless of how "normal," attractive," wholesome," or obviously in love they are. They are going to relate to people just like them that are saying, "I raised my twin sons exactly alike...they are twins, not even an age difference there...I am just like you, I love both of them just like you love your kids." This is what will sway the fence sitters, not the cute gay couple they can't relate to. Lets face it, we know how we will vote, and more than likely how those who know and love us will vote, and there are those who will vote against us regardless of the ad...so it is those in the middle that we MUST appeal to if we are to win the battle.

    Posted by: Kenneth | Aug 22, 2012 6:16:04 PM


  10. Hasn't worked 31 times before but somehow it's supposed to magically work this time.

    Hope they have something new in the tank that they're holding for just the right moment...preferably BEFORE the vote in November!

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 22, 2012 7:02:54 PM


  11. @TAMPAZEKE --you are in FLAWrida, where they are still sorry they can't festoon the trees with dead Negroes.
    Some other places are right at the tipping point, or over it. Remember that Maine already approved marriage once. I have my fingers crossed on WA and NJ, but they look good right now.

    Posted by: Bob | Aug 22, 2012 7:28:41 PM


  12. You guys are stupid.

    It's Maine. It's the country. People are quiet and independent -- they don't want to be told what to do. They can be persuaded by saying, look, this isn't something new and weird, gay people are just like us and they want the same things. That's how they got their workplace/housing discrimination law passed.

    Screech all you want about the ad and the people, but guess what? Maine is going to be the first state to pass this by popular vote. It was so close last time and that was an off election year. We have the benefit of it being a Presidential year and a year in which Maine's Republicans are proving themselves to be extremists. It will pass.

    Posted by: Nevin | Aug 22, 2012 8:35:22 PM


  13. Everything about these ads is deliberate. They are the product of four years of focus group testing and market research designed to produce the optimal result: marriage equality. I can't understand the whining about what they do or do not depict; they could show a big blank screen, for all I care, if that's what works. Thanks to GLAD (single A) for being results and not emotion driven.

    Posted by: SP | Aug 22, 2012 9:18:32 PM


  14. Whether or not the ad moves people to vote in favor of marriage equality, and I hope it does, it's a powerful statement. I wish my parents were as supportive of me and my husband. This couple's sons are very fortunate.

    Posted by: Daniel | Aug 22, 2012 11:20:41 PM


  15. During Prop 8 in CA they soft-peddled a lot of the ads & it didn't work.

    I really hope that Maine wins, but I have to say, I loved that Australian ad.

    Posted by: Pete N SFO | Aug 22, 2012 11:21:05 PM


  16. The Australian ads were awesome, yeah.

    They'd be a DISASTER in Maine.

    Let me explain something about Maine.

    Went back to see my mom who was dying of cancer. Stopped at a convenience store for a Pepsi and to charge my cell.

    The clerk asked me where I was from, told him I was from Maine, but lived in NV now, and why I was there.

    He CRIED and HUGGED me.
    Absolute stranger.

    Maine isn't Oakland, Maine isn't a gay bar, Maine isn't NYC. It's MAINE. You want to reach people, convince them of something, you treat them with respect and you SHOW them the truth. They'll respond in kind. Oakland. Sheezus. Give me a freakin' break. You feel like a "dirty little secret" because of these ads ? - get some therapy. Seriously. You need it.

    ------------------------------------------

    http://www.mainersunited.org/

    Donate. NOW. Maine matters. The first state to pass marriage equality by a popular vote in the US MATTERS.

    Last time we were VERY visible in ads. We lost by just 6,000 votes.

    Surveys show that THESE ads ARE working.

    It's that simple.

    And when it passes in Maine, consider getting married there. It's freakin' BEAUTIFUL. Nowhere else like it, and I've lived in Oakland, and SF and the south bay; I've lived in Wa. I've lived in NC, Boston, NYC, and NV.

    Oakland. OMG. Really ?

    Sheezuz.

    Posted by: MaineGuy | Aug 23, 2012 1:34:28 AM


  17. I will post a link to this post on my site.

    Posted by: Flavia Bickford | Aug 23, 2012 2:07:33 AM


  18. i like it

    Posted by: reality | Aug 23, 2012 7:11:23 AM


  19. It's a smart ad, I'm from that part of Maine - Unity, near Monroe - and this will help sway fence-sitters in the back-country. Maine off the coast might as well be a Southern state.

    Posted by: Erich | Aug 23, 2012 8:02:01 AM


  20. Well then MAINGUY, perhaps you can explain why the people of Maine, after seeing these very same types of ads a few years ago, went right out to the polls and took marriage equality away from gay people. We heard your exact same argument about how special and different Mainers are the last time they voted against us.

    I hate to break it to you but practically EVERYONE (outside of Mississippi, my home state) thinks the people of their state are "special" and "different", "unusually fair minded" and "live and let live" etc., etc., etc. We heard it in Wisconsin, we heard it in California, we heard it over and over again about this state and that but the fact of the matter is Mainers and Californians and Wisconsonites and people of 27 other states rejected calls for fairness and reason and responded to lies and fear mongering.

    Posted by: TampaZeke | Aug 23, 2012 9:11:40 AM


  21. As someone who switched from an anti-equality to a pro-equality position, I can tell you that commercials like this are the way to go. As to why they will work now when they didn't work in the past, the answer is that the population is becoming more accepting of gays as time goes on. Pro-equality groups have a more favorable climate to work in now.

    Ben, I can see why you feel you're being treated like someone's "dirty little secret." And this sucks. But the election is less than 3 months away. Your frustration will turn to joy very soon if this passes. Unfortunately, what makes us feel validated isn't always what's in our best interests. But I'm sure the gay community in Maine will feel validated when they're allowed to legally marry in their state.

    Posted by: Mary | Aug 23, 2012 9:31:23 AM


  22. I've been writing about this for years. I've been a gay activist longer than most of my critics have been alive. I'll come back and post my analysis of why we lost prop 8 and every single marriage battle, except for washington, two years ago.

    You can draw your own conclusions. I've already drawn mine, and I haven't seen a single thing so far to change it. I can't claim that this time I'm going to be wrong or right, only that the enemy is the closet, and this is another closet based ad.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Aug 23, 2012 10:47:08 AM


  23. I've been writing about this for years. I've been a gay activist longer than most of my critics have been alive. I'll come back and post my analysis of why we lost prop 8 and every single marriage battle, except for washington, two years ago.

    You can draw your own conclusions. I've already drawn mine, and I haven't seen a single thing so far to change it. I can't claim that this time I'm going to be wrong or right, only that the enemy is the closet, and this is another closet based ad.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Aug 23, 2012 10:47:13 AM


  24. I'll be happy to be wrong, but here you go. We might win, we might not.

    MY ANALYSIS-- Why we lost prop.8, and every other battle so far.


    Matt Foreman has written an extensive analysis of why we lost on Prop. 8. Basically, he claims that we did the best we could, and we could not have done any better. As you will see, I disagree completely. I think we could have done a lot better. I have no doubt that we could have and should have won. And we would have, but for the nature of the campaign-- a deeply closeted campaign in mentality, and so afraid of taking the wrong step that it did nothing at all. I believe that we did as well as we did in this election not BECAUSE of this campaign, but DESPITE it.
    The justifications that Mr. Foreman has listed may be true. I have no way of knowing, except that these justifications contradict every experience of my 39 years as an out and proud gay man, and they have failed repeatedly in every campaign since 1996. That alone should tell us: let's maybe try something different. Maybe let's trust the basic decency and sense of fair play that I think most people in this country, and certainly, most people in California, would exhibit if only they were given the chance. But they weren't given the chance. We assumed the worst about them, and they had to be protected from seeing us.
    Let me also add that I do not know a single out, thoughtful, grounded gay person who thinks that this campaign was anything but a loser from the get-go. I spoke to Mark Leno personally about the need not to repeat this limply liberal, everybody-make-nice approach that completely avoided the reality of gay people's lives, only to be told that despite its repeated failure for the past 10 years in 40 states, it was going to be tried yet again in this most important contest. He wasn't interested in what I had to say, and clearly couldn't wait to get away from me. (For the record, I am neither stupid nor crazy). I tried repeatedly to get someone at No on 8 to listen about the need for a speakers bureau, community outreach, and knowledgeable editorial writers, and was literally told "there's no demand for it." I finally gave up, and did what I could on my own.
    This response might make sense in the political culture that these various people swim in, but it makes absolutely no sense at all in my world. It is insane to repeat the same tired campaign based upon the same tired political, sociological, and psychological assumptions, expecting to get a different result. And if there is no demand for outreach to the people of the your community, which is by definition the very nature of politics, wouldn't you think it might be a good idea to CREATE some?
    Thankfully, since the election, more and more people are speaking out about the effects of a closeted campaign, and starting a true dialog in our community about our willingness to stand up for who we are, as we are. If we continue to employ political consultants who may have their own issues around shame and fear and homosexuality, and continue the strategies of the past that have yet to work, then I fear that the push for marriage equality is doomed. And despite their rhetoric that they are just fine with domestic partnerships, the anti-gay crowd is clearly not fine with it, and we can probably kiss any progress in that area goodbye as well for another twenty years. I'm too old for that. I have been hearing anti-gay prejudice my whole life-- the lies, the hate, the distortions, and worst of all, the hate-disguised-as-love. I'm tired of it. And frankly, I think the country, maybe even the whole world, not just gay people, has paid an enormous price for it, if indeed it led to the disaster known as the Presidency of George Bush.
    Though I did a lot of work against 8, ultimately, I chose not to work with the official campaign above a certain minimum. It was very clear to me that this was going to be a campaign conducted from the closet. In fact, I wrote a couple of articles on the subject, which together constitute as clear a picture of what I saw happening as I could produce. This picture was confirmed to me when I took a training and I received the list of words that we were supposed to avoid, including these three: prejudice, religion, and children. I'll get back to those three words and their absence in this campaign.
    I read in the news and online the bases for the state lawsuits against 8. All very well and good, and possibly even valid. But they don't convince even me-- especially the revision vs. amendment part of it, which seems to be the main plank-- and so I wasn't surprised that they didn't, in the end, convince a judge, especially if his/her job was on the line in a future recall. As with the No on 8 ads, these arguments were obscure and irrelevant. And I really wanted to be convinced. Also, I believe this tack was already tried, and was rejected by the court. Of all possible arguments, this seemed to be the weakest. And the argument failed, as expected.
    I'm not a lawyer, but I do have my nearly 60 years of life, and 39 years as an out, proud, and happy gay man to guide me. Very frankly, it seemed to me that these lawsuits were being conducted from the closet as well, and in exactly the same way as the campaign was. Once again, before the Olson-Boies trial, I saw these three words being avoided: children, religion, and prejudice. And the result was exactly the same. During Olson-Boies, it allowed our opponents to say once again, "We don't hate you. We're just trying to preserve heterosexual marriage/the family/traditional values," by which they mean the myth of heterosexual superiority and the realities of heterosexual privilege and prejudice. It will also allow them to continue to claim that somehow, if gay people are protected from discrimination, whether in marriage or the usual employment/housing/accommodations, that their freedom of religion is compromised, by which they mean their freedom to discriminate against gay people on the basis of their religious belief.
    The closet is about living a lie. It IS a lie, it is based on lies, and it engenders lies. It distorts, perverts, and debases everything it touches, as the sorry life of Ted Haggard will attest. And like all lies, the bigger it is, the longer it is told, the more damage it ultimately causes. One lie, that the Jews were responsible for Jesus' death, as told in the Gospel of John and the letters of Paul, ultimately led to centuries of anti-Semitism, the murder of six million Jews, and 250,000 murdered gay people as an afterthought. John was, of course, justifying the Jewish heresy that became Christianity, and was sticking it to the Jewish authorities of the time. The Christians won and the Jews lost. Another lie, that gay people are responsible for child molestation, has impeded so much progress in the battle to protect our children. After all, if you can blame it on the queers, you don't actually have to look at child molestation and where it actually occurs most often-- the family.
    As a Jew, I'm weary of losing. As a gay man, I have no use for the closet.
    There is only one answer to a lie, and that is the truth. By hiding us, hiding our families, we are complicit in this lie. Jesus said "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free." So when do we start telling the truth? Because I, for one, wish to be free.
    For 2000 years or more, gay people have been subject to a vicious, virulent, and consistent prejudice, a veritable avalanche of outright falsehoods, made up "facts", agenda-based "research", and distortions of religious teaching. We have been imprisoned, slandered, criminalized, degraded, pathologized, and murdered for being different. We have been scapegoated for child molestation, the collapse of empires, and the decline of the family. There are many people who deem it a good thing to make our lives as difficult, expensive, dangerous, and unpleasant as possible, often under the guise of "We love you" and "This is for your own good". That this prejudice exists is beyond all doubt. The bulk of the Yes on 8 campaign was a conglomeration of known lies, distortions, and the-gays-are-gonna-get-your-children fear mongering, all very consistent with the existence of a prejudicial mindset. Prejudice and bigotry are not good bases for either law or public policy, and as we have progressed as a society, we have consistently rejected them.
    So why is prejudice apparently not a part of our legal and electoral arguments and strategies? Are we still afraid to call the people prejudiced who have slandered us for two millennia-- or for twelve months straight-- especially since we know it is true? Whether it is presented as sincere religious belief, or admitted for what it is, it is still prejudice. Why can we not say that absent a compelling, factual, and real reason, our equality before the law cannot be compromised by someone else's prejudice? I know the argument goes that we win no converts by calling people bigots. As far as I am concerned, if we are willing only to be silent about it, we are consenting to it. We can be polite, but we have to start being truthful. The closet depends on both lies and silence for its power over gay people and its support from heterosexuals. We don't have to call people bigots. We do have to start talking about bigotry. We are not responsible for how people to react to us. We are only responsible for who we are, and to tell the truth-- our truth.
    This is what Rosa Parks had to say about the consent of silence: "It’s not that I was fed up (that day). I was fed up all my life, as far back as I can remember, with being treated as less than a free person . . . as long as we continued to comply with these rules and regulations that kept us crushed down as a people, then the power structure would always say: ‘Well, they are not complaining, and they accept this, so they are satisfied with it.’"
    I would re-phrase that for gay people. "I have been fed up all my life, as far back as I can remember, with being treated as less than a whole person, as not good enough, not citizen enough, not human enough, to allow me the simple dignity and respect of living my life in peace. Well, actually they will allow that, as long as I don’t demand equality before the law -- or respect, or dignity, or to live my life in peace."
    It has been documented over and over again that the Catholics and the Mormons, along with other religious conservatives, were the primary organizers, financiers, movers, and promoters of Yes on 8. In fact, they are proud of it. Their arguments were primarily religion based: it's against our religion, God ordained that marriage is between a man and a woman, ministers will be jailed, churches will be taxed and/or sued, religious freedom violated. The President of the Mormon Church sent out a letter encouraging Mormons to "do what they can", resulting in millions in out-of-state donations. Pastoral letters from the Catholic Bishops were read in church; Bishops Niedeaur and Mahoney have trumpeted their parts in this, claiming that they are only doing their Catholic duty. Brigham Young university students were encouraged to phone bank. All of this to enforce a certain, conservative religious view about homosexuality, and place a religious view about same-sex marriage onto the civil contract of marriage. The state, by virtue of the First Amendment, is supposed to be neutral in religious matters. By enforcing 8, the state is not being neutral. My marriage is a civil matter, with nothing to do with anyone's religion but my own. We don't have to attack people's religion. But we to have to start talking about religion, freedom of religion, and the difference between religious belief and civil society.
    I was grateful that Jerry Brown was not defending Prop. 8 in court, but defending the equal protection provisions of the Constitution of the State of California. But he should also be defending the religious freedom provisions as well. I believe he has the legal ability to do so. But he must choose it. And so should we.
    One issue that MUST be addressed under the rubric of equal protection is this pernicious and false belief that Domestic Partnership confers exactly the same rights under California law as marriage. Not only does DP stop at the state line, which marriage does not, it does not confer Federal recognition of the legal relationship, which its host of benefits. There is one other extremely significant difference: No one will ever vote on any heterosexual's right to marry as often and badly as they wish, provided they are legally eligible. But, if they can vote to "disappear" my marriage, then they can vote to "disappear" my domestic partnership as well. And they would have done so if they thought they could have gotten away with it. Let us not forget that there was another petition being circulated by Randy Thomason which would have done exactly that.
    Moreover, ask just about anyone, and they would be hard put to say just what domestic partnership entails; its qualifications, its rights, benefits, and responsibilities would be unknown. A homophobic nurse would have no problem keeping one's domestic partner out of the hospital room. And this happened too many tragic times to count. Ask anyone what marriage entails, and they can tell you immediately, and this nurse would not have a legal, moral, or administrative leg to stand on. This is one of the things we are struggling for: the right to be recognized as legal family, as legal next of kin. Domestic partnership is polite heterosexism, just another nice way of saying that your life, your relationship, and your family are not really as important as ours.
    I can think of very few politicians who have the integrity and the fortitude to stand for much of anything. I voted for John Kerry, but held my nose while doing so. I'm happy that Obama was elected, but despite his rhetoric, I'm fairly sure that gay concerns are way down on his priority list. He only sees "out" gay people. I doubt he gets the crushing burden of the closet, simply because he has never had to be in one. It is one thing to "support" gay marriage, it is quite another thing to be willing take a rhetorical bullet for it. We need only look at Feinstein's wishy-washy "unfair and wrong" commercial, or Schwarzenegger's unfulfilled promise to campaign against 8. He somehow managed to be out of the state in the final week of the campaign, when he should have been on TV. And as far I can tell, no one called him on it. Certainly not his lesbian chief of staff.
    Where is the lawsuit from a coalition of religious groups-- UU, UCC, Episcopal, Reformed Judaism, to name but a few, plus a host of ministers from many other denominations-- who don't want their religious beliefs dictated by the conservatives and imposed upon civil law, especially in the matter of how civil law affects their parishioners? Since this is a civil contract, why is my access to it compromised by the religious beliefs of people who want their religious views reflected by civil law? Why is it that only THEIR freedom of religion the one that counts?
    Moreover, just because they claim it is about their religious beliefs does not make that a true statement. Nor does it make it right. It only makes it sound reasonable, unmotivated by hate or fear. Like all prejudice, religious prejudice is never reasonable. It's just prejudice. And what about MY freedom of religion, which is every bit as important as theirs? Again, by not speaking out about it, we are consenting to it. We don't have to attack anyone for their religious beliefs. But we do have to talk about it.
    If this were not about gay marriage, but was about any other religious difference of opinion, this would be called what it so clearly is: discrimination on the basis of religious belief. We have laws at every level of government which say that discrimination on the basis of religious belief, yours or mine, is wrong and has no place in a secular, pluralistic society. Why is this different? I'm certainly old enough to remember "exclusive" country clubs and neighborhoods. But if Prop. 8-1/2 said that Jews could be discriminated against because they do not share majority Christian belief, it would be thrown out by the courts without a moment's hesitation, though before WWII such practices were considered acceptable. But because this is about this very ancient prejudice against gay people, often supported by religious belief but occasionally admitted for what it is, and about sex in our deeply puritanical culture, somehow, we are not allowed to point this out. Why is this 800 pound gorilla in the living room apparently invisible? What do we have to lose by calling out bigotry for what it is? What do we have to gain by pretending that it is not? How is the continuation of the closet served by not talking about bigotry and prejudice?
    Again, our silence means consent. Or, as my Act Up brothers would say, Silence=Death.
    Finally, there is the matter of children and family, or as I like to call it, The Children (TM). Because, despite all of that pro-family, love-the-children rhetoric of the religious right, The Children (TM) are just one more commodity in their never-ending battle against both ending this prejudice and our full inclusion in society-- and arguably, in their whole socio-political agenda, which I believe is ultimately the control of our society and the rule of their "theology". I can think of all kinds of children they don't care about: the estimated 70,000 children in California with gay parents, the 3%-4% of the children that will grow up to be gay, but meanwhile have to grow up in the closet and suffer every last indignity that it can bestow, from shame and self-hatred to the ultimate: a Larry Craig life of sleazy furtiveness, or a Bobby Griffith suicide of despair. And how many children world-wide could have been fed, clothed, educated and immunized for the 85 million spent on this campaign? How many children in Darfur died of starvation while Yes on 8 was attacking my marriage? How many social programs in Utah have gone begging while the Mormon Church was getting all moralistic on our asses?
    When I attended the above mentioned speaker's training, which turned out not to be much of a training at all, my intellectual hackles were raised when we were told there was a list of words we weren't supposed to use and were to try to avoid (at worst) or to euphemize (at best). It reminded of the first time I ever heard the words "politically incorrect", when I was working against the Briggs Initiative 30 years ago; I thought then that speaker was joking, and was shocked to find that she was serious. This time, when I saw that list of words, my spirits fell, because I received yet another confirmation that this campaign was going to be conducted from the dark recesses of the closet, as has every other failed campaign for the last ten years.
    But the final blow, what told me that we were very likely to lose this battle, and what decided for me that I would put little energy towards the official campaign-- though I did personally donate $500 to it, and raised about $1000 more-- was the exclusion of one word: children. I asked the presenter why we could not talk about that. Her first response was that the Yes people had appropriated it. I couldn't swear to it, but she may even have used the word "co-opted", a word I haven't heard used since I first learned it from the admitted socialists (and I don't mean that as a put-down, just a context) running the anti-Briggs campaign.
    I asked the trainer why we couldn't talk about gay families, or gay people with children. Her response: focus groups had shown that any association of gay people and children activated the worst animosities of the anti-gay crowd and, more importantly, the worst fears of the crucial undecided voters in the middle who would actually decide the contest. What a concept! Let's ask straight people who are afraid of gay people about how to win gay rights, instead of asking gay people what has worked in their lives.
    You can see the result of focus group viewpoints. We have been focused over big-time.
    So many lethal absurdities here. Yes on 8 had co-opted the issue, so we can't talk about it. Let's pretend that gay people don't have children instead. Let's tell a lie, even one of omission. From my point of view, it is all the more reason that we should be talking about it, and loudly. People who don't know gay people, who know nothing about us, who don't know that we have children, that many of us love children, that some of us have adopted the unwanted, cast off children of irresponsible heterosexual reproduction, cannot be informed that their beliefs and perceptions are wrong, lest we...what? Scare them? Challenge them? Educate them? If they are so locked into their fears and their hatred that the simple act of showing our humanity, our families, and our children will cause them to vote against us, then they would not be voting for us anyway.
    But Foreman's column said we SHOULD be avoiding this topic. However out-of-the-closet Mr. Foreman and these political consultants may be, this sentiment makes me wonder if they might have their own issues around fear and shame. I have seen very little in popular culture that supports the idea that lies, either of commission or omission, about important matters are superior and preferable to the truth. I say we should trust the basic decency and fairness of our fellow Americans. I say we should reach hearts and minds with real people and real families. I would rather lose the campaign because we have told the truth, than because we have been complicit in a lie. There was a very telling scene in the movie "Milk", where the politicos were going to hide gay people, and Harvey Milk said NO. He understood the closet, and in fact, personally gave me my understanding of its pernicious nature long before many of these political consultants were even aware that they were gay, or in some cases, even born.
    I have a friend who adopted a child with her partner-- an unwanted child who would have been raised in poverty and disease, another piece of third world refuse heading towards an early death because his heterosexual parents neither wanted him nor were prepared to care for him. M. has been given a chance at a different life with her, and is now healthy, bright, charming, well behaved, and a joy to be around. Marriage provides a certain set of rights and responsibilities upon people who are married, and a certain set of protections for their children. Preventing my friend from marrying another woman, which would give M a set of married parents and all of the benefits that the law and society allow, is advocating is to keep him, and the children of all gay couples, in as legally, financially and socially precarious a position as possible. Domestic partnership goes only so far in protecting the children of gay people, and stops exactly at the state line.
    The legal and social status of the children of gay people is an issue that must be addressed, and if we don't do so, you can be sure that we will see another anti-gay, Arkansas-style initiative that will. By conducting our campaign and our lawsuit from the fear and loathing of the closet, we are avoiding it. We are doing nothing to counter the the-gays-are-gonna-get-your-children fear mongering stereotypes and outright falsehoods that are the anti-gay industry's stock-in-trade, and their most potent and vicious ammunition. And in so doing, we are failing our families and children just as surely as our opponents are. What's good for the children of heterosexuals is good for the children of homosexuals. Opposing marriage equality is tantamount to punishing those children. What have they ever done to deserve that? What about their equality before the law, their freedom of religion, their rights? We are also failing the children who will grow up to be gay. If we are going to say that children are our most precious resource, then we must stand up for them now, just as we surely should have done throughout this whole, sorry campaign.
    We should have won and we could have won. We cannot allow our opponents to own those three words-- religion, prejudice, and children-- any more than we can allow them to own the word "marriage". Keeping our lawsuit and our campaigns in the closet is the same as keeping gay people in the closet, and will have the same results. We will remain invisible and powerless as a community.
    There is one last issue that must be addressed, yet another closet issue. One of the outstanding features of the campaign's obliviousness to reality was its utter failure to attempt to talk to gay people, not only about what has worked in their lives around the issues of marriage, coming out, and family, but also the failure to spend a portion of the budget on statewide advertising on TV, encouraging people to come out to their families, to discuss the issue of marriage and what it means to us, and to encourage their family members to vote NO; or if they could not vote no on it, at least, not to vote on it at all. They relied on a baseless assumption: of course, gay people WILL come out to to the people they know, and talk about important issues. They always do. That's why there isn't a problem with the closet. Right.
    Encouraging conversation is never a bad idea. Such a campaign would have had at least four obvious benefits. First, there is the obvious benefit of more people coming out and living their lives freely. Secondly, the appeal to family love and loyalty is of far more value than a revered Senator from San Francisco making grand, if somewhat vague appeals about Truth, Justice, and the American Way to people who wouldn't listen to her anyway (see San Francisco Democrat, above) about people she could not bravely put a name to. Third, many people don't think they have the option not to vote on something controversial. This could have flipped a lot of votes away from 8. And finally, that fabled "movable middle" would have had yet another chance to see that this is in fact about real people, about family, children, faith, and yes, prejudice.
    Let me repeat two things: The enemy is not now and never has been the religious right, the anti-gay wingnuts, or even those homo-hating-homos who wanna-be-straight-but-ain't. The enemy is, now and always, the closet. Rip that door off its hinges and the anti-gay industry will be reduced to functional irrelevance. Our strength will be the truth about our lives, our children, our families. I would rather lose because we told the truth, than lose because we hid our heads in shame and lied.

    Posted by: Ben in Oakland | Aug 23, 2012 10:53:07 AM


  25. I think it's a great ad. You've got to know your audience and what moves them. There's a time for militancy and a time for nuance. The ad is well done in that the couple says they cried when their son came out - which indicates that aren't far left - but then realized that their two twin sons deserved the same chance at love and marriage. I think it would be persuasive for "fence sitters".

    Posted by: Mi-miami | Aug 23, 2012 11:20:06 AM


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