Dishonesty on Both Sides of Prop. 8's African American Support?

So I was pretty shocked when I found out that Prop. 8 had passed in California. I truly expected it to go down in flames, especially given the surge in Democratic turnout I expected due to Obama's campaign.

I was even more surprised, at first, to find that African American voters supported it by such large margins (I've read 70%). But what is most surprising is that people have apparently used that figure to 1. Trash the entire racial group, and 2. trash people legitimately criticizing those black voters that supported the proposition.

Doing either of these things is wrong.

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California Not Always So Liberal

There are good reasons you might have the impression that my home state of California is a very liberal place. For example, you might not know anyone who was alive before cultural conservatives started trashing Hollywood, aka, Babylon The Great, for destroying the country's morals. For another, it can be observed that San Francisco, the Northern Auxilliary Babylon, if you will, is well within state borders. Also, it's been going Democratic in the presidential election for ages now, the Democratic Speaker of the House is from there, and there are two Democratic Senators.

Important additional things to remember about it though, are that it's also ... the original home of the John Birch Society (which I perversely enjoy reminding people about), gave the nation two quite famous Republican presidents in the latter third of the 20th century, has a little over 1/10th the entire country's population and GDP, and is the country's top agricultural center.

By which I mean to say that it's a large and diverse state with its share of deep conservative roots.

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The Back of the Bus is Still Not Empty.

A theme that I have noticed in the blogs that support Proposition 8 is the misconception that gay people "choose" to love someone of the same gender.  One can choose their friends; one cannot choose who they fall in love with.  Ironically, being a Catholic, or a Jew, or a believer in any religion, IS a choice.  You can CHOOSE to be a believer in something greater than yourself, or choose not to believe.  The way in which you interpret scripture is also a choice.

The other misnomer is the statement "I don't hate gay people, I just disagree with them".  When someone says "I disagree with gays", there is connotation of being poorly educated in human development.  People might disagree on who should be the next President, or what kind of dog the Obama's should get.  However, to disagree with someone being gay is as ridiculous as disagreeing with someone being African American.  Being gay is not a "life-style" anymore than being Asian, African, European, or any other ethnicity.  Being gay, is not a "way of life".  Being gay just is.  One in ten human beings "just are".  This is the way we were born.  Why would anyone "chose" to live a life of discrimination?  

Being gay is not an organized movement to get back at our parents and render them forever asking "where did [they] go wrong?".  Being gay is not a covert form of anarchy or a manifestation of a bizarre desire to seek attention when in public places.  Being gay is as natural as the color of my eyes.  Sure, I can try wearing some irritating colored contact lenses but that would not change the true color of my eyes.

My eyes were opened on the morning of November 5th, 2008.  My elation with the election of Barack Obama to the highest office in America was washed away by the stark reality that gay people in America are far from free.  "Everyone is created equal" - except for gay people.  The "American Dream" is attainable by anyone - unless they are gay.  "Let freedom ring for all of God's children" - except the gay ones.

America does not have to be divided on this issue.  Americans have a choice.  Let it be an informed choice free of hate and discrimination.  Let it be a choice supporting equality for all.

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Repeal Prop 8: Turning Passion Into Action

As I wrote last night, in the wake of the stunning verdict by the voters of California to amend the state constitution to remove the rights of same-sex couples to marry -- to actually eliminate the same rights under the law that heterosexual couples have -- we have seen a truly passionate and angry response bubble up from the ground in opposition to the passage of Prop 8.

For three straight days, we've seen massive marches in the streets of Los Angeles and San Francisco. This just doesn't happen here. It's amazing to watch take place but there's a danger that this anger won't be harnessed and converted into a longterm marriage equality movement. Our opposition is already moving to invalidate all the legal same-sex marriages that were performed between June and November and Tony Perkins is trying to marginalize the protests as "anti-family rioting."

Determined not to let the passion that people are feeling about this dissipate, the Courage Campaign (for whom I do some work) today launched a Repeal Prop 8 effort. From Rick Jacobs, Chair of the Courage Campaign:

We are witnessing the birth of a new Marriage Equality Movement -- the civil rights movement of the 21st Century. Organized from the bottom-up by thousands of ordinary people just like you in the last 48 hours, this people-powered phenomenon is exponentially growing by the minute, online and offline. [...]

Movements are visceral and popular, often borne of outrage and anger. What we are witnessing on the streets and online is a community of people who have come together to say: "These are our lives. This is our time. This is unacceptable."

This is our moment to stand strong together -- gay and straight -- and say that we refuse to accept a California that enshrines bigotry into our state constitution. Please pledge your support now to repeal Prop 8 and restore marriage equality to California -- then forward this message to your friends.

Please sign the pledge to support Courage Campaign's effort to repeal Prop 8 HERE.

As Jacobs said on a conference call with supporters last night (you can listen to it HERE) the goal here would be to get a new initiative on a 2010 ballot. I suspect if we could get it on the June primary ballot, which is likely to draw progressives out in droves to pick a gubernatorial nominee (yes, Arnold is finally up in 2010), that would be ideal but I expect the strategy will be rolled out in the coming days. This is a crucial first step toward making sure the passion that people are feeling about Tuesday's result manifests into real change down the road. Also, please join the Repeal Prop 8 Facebook page.

Mayor Gavin Newsom was on MSNBC earlier today to discuss the passage of Prop 8 and it became clear to me that -- assuming restoring marriage rights is going to be a 2010 fight -- that this issue is going to be central to the governor's race. Newsom is already positioning himself as a contender, using his fame as the guy who unilaterally legalized same-sex marriage in San Francisco four years ago as a launching point, and now this result makes Newsom's leadership on the issue newly relevant. We could literally have a Democratic primary for governor hinge on who is MOST supportive of marriage equality. How refreshing that would be.

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Prop 4 losing, Prop 8 winning

With about 32% of the vote in 8 is leading 53-47, and with 30%
of the vote in 4 is losing 52-48.  So there's at least 5% that are voting no on 4 and yes on 8.  4 would have to lose by 10% for 8 to have a chance.

My thoughts:

1.  The country is still a long ways off from accepting gay marriage.  Even in California.  

2.  I think the Yes on 8 campaign had the much better ground game.  The final couple of days, I saw almost all Yes on 8 signholders on major intersections.

3.  Some mistakes were made by the No side.  They allowed themselves to get a late start in fund-raising and advertising.
Also, near the end, there was a bit of Mormon bashing which didn't help.

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