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California's Proposition 8--Ours to Lose? Nope.
It was always an Uphill Climb

GuestbloggerMATT FOREMAN

Matt Foreman is the former director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Empire State Pride Agenda. He is currently a program director at the Evelyn and Walter Haas, Jr. Fund. He released this op-ed yesterday

A lot of people have been saying that Prop 8 was our side's to lose and that missteps by the No on 8 Campaign snatched defeat from the jaws of victory. Those analyses ignore hard core obstacles and fundamentals underlying the contest, including how hard it is to hold and move opinions on marriage in the narrow confines of a campaign.

MattforemanI need to start by saying that I had nothing to do with the No on 8 Campaign. Because the Evelyn & Walter Haas, Jr. Fund, where I work, has been so deeply involved in public education work in support of marriage equality, the law literally precluded any contact or coordination with the electoral campaign. So, as a purely armchair quarterback it's pretty easy for me to catalogue things I -- in my infinite wisdom -- would have done differently. But I also know that even if everything -- every single thing -- had gone our way, it still would have been incredibly hard to win by anything more than a tiny margin. Here's why.

Putting Minority Rights Up to a Popular Vote: the Difficulty of Winning

First off, it's nearly impossible for minorities to win or defend their rights at the ballot box. Californians have demonstrated that time and again, voting to outlaw affirmative action, to deny grade school education and non-emergency medical care to undocumented children, and to specifically permit race discrimination in housing. This profound disadvantage was exacerbated by the fact that marriage is in a class by itself as an issue. Everyone has an intimate, personal relationship with marriage and has an opinion -- usually visceral -- about it. True, over time people are moving toward marriage -- we've quite amazingly gained about one point per year since 2000. But within the narrow time constraints of a campaign -- under 90 days -- it is pure fancy to think there's a "movable middle" on marriage. At best there was movable sliver. More on that in a bit.

Our Opponents' Base -- Huge, Solid, Energized

Second, the other side had a huge, largely unmovable, energized base. We didn't. No surprise but they had older people all sewn up. While we won among all voters under 65, more than two-thirds (67%) of voters 65 or older voted for Prop 8. That alone -- yes, alone -- was enough to override our majority support among all younger age groups. Anyone who thinks a 90-day campaign -- even a flawless one -- is going to overcome the imprint of homophobia on those born before World War II needs to think again.


Continue reading "California's Proposition 8--Ours to Lose? Nope.
It was always an Uphill Climb" »

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SF Politicos Recognize Boycott of Human Rights Campaign Dinner


San Francisco Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty are among those local politicians supporting a boycott and protest of the Human Rights Campaign dinner in that city next month, over the organization's failure to support a trans-inclusive employment non-discrimination bill (ENDA) last year. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, "The city's two LGBT Democratic clubs support the boycott, as does the San Francisco Labor Council. Assemblyman Mark Leno and state Sen. Carole Migden, both of San Francisco, also are not attending the event."

TranspicketIt's a scene that has played out in New York (pictured) and other cities.

The paper reports: "On Tuesday, San Francisco Supervisors Tom Ammiano and Bevan Dufty introduced a resolution at City Hall calling for a bill that includes transgender people and recognizing the boycott. 'The Human Rights Campaign should not be human rights cowards,' Ammiano said at a news conference at the San Francisco Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Community Center. He said the organization seems uneasy with transgender issues. Dufty said he will skip the fundraising dinner for the first time in 23 years and instead will make dinner at his home for people protesting outside the event."

Matt Foreman, former executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, will be among those protesting outside the event. Said Foreman: "What is going on here is an emperor-has-no-clothes moment. We still don't have one single federal law that protects gay people, let alone transgender people."

HRC defend its actions in a statement from President Joe Solmonese: "HRC's position is that we could not oppose - and, in fact, should support - legislation to provide crucial civil rights protections that would be brought to the House floor for a vote, even though we did not and, certainly, would not have chosen that course...At a time when our community is threatened, once again, with a cynical election-year ploy that could hurt our families, we believe that it's time to set aside our differences and fight for what we all want."

The HRC dinner, which will benefit marriage equality (the organization has already made an initial pledge of $500,000 to the Equality for All marriage coalition), takes place on July 26th at the Westin St. Francis hotel.

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Governor Paterson Vows to Bring Full Marriage Equality to NY


New York Governor David Paterson delivered a funny and eloquent video message (watch it) to the crowd at last night's National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Leadership Awards dinner since he was being "held hostage" in Albany and couldn't be there in person.

Joked Paterson: "If any of you can hear me, please contact the FBI or Interpol. I'm being held hostage in the dysfunctional Albany. I wanted to come to this dinner tonight. I'm actually tied to this chair and a gun is being pointed at my head. They're trying to get me to reverse my opinions on a number of issues, but I won't do it. If I am shot or killed during this interview, remember that I did the right thing."

Paterson praised outgoing Executive Director Matt Foreman as well as former Governor Eliot Spitzer: "I am proud to have run on a ticket with Eliot Spitzer that became the first ticket in this country to actually advocate for marriage equality for all citizens and to win on that premise."

He added: "Marriage equality in NY may not come just this moment but it is no longer an issue mostly for conviction, it is an issue for courage. People more and more understand that when people love each other they should express it in whatever way they deem necessary and possible. They should have all the rights that the rest of us have. And so, we willl push on and bring full marriage equality to New York State. And when we have done that, we're going to do more. We're going to protect young people from bullies. We're going to protect against the discrimination of people in the transgender community, and we're going to fight for decent and affordable healthcare for all citizens in this state. If you will join with me, and if we work hard enough, we can change the face of New York, which will be the catalyst to changing national policy."

Watch Paterson's clip, AFTER THE JUMP...

Continue reading "Governor Paterson Vows to Bring Full Marriage Equality to NY" »


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