It appears that the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) have learned nothing from the success of the fourteen state referenda (in the past year) defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
Last week, a group of social conservatives led by Randy Thomasson, president of the Campaign for Children and Families, started raising money and gathering signatures for the “Voters’ Right to Protect Marriage Initiative,” a proposed amendment to the California State constitution to define marriage as those states have defined it and to prevent the state from recognizing civil unions. HRC has responded with a press release to announce a fundraising drive to defeat this pernicious proposal using the same language of the failed campaigns to defeat similar initiatives last year.
HRC and NGLTF have teamed up with “more than 200 religious, labor and civil rights organizations” from across the Golden State to form the “Equality for All Coalition.” Last week, I warned that the key to defeating this initiative “is to get beyond the language activists have used in the past.” Alas, from the very name of the group, it appears that these gay groups are resorting to the failed strategies of the past year.
Since more than 60% of California voters favored a state law defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman in a 2000 referendum (Prop. 22), I doubt the “marriage equality” language will win a majority in 2006. To defeat this amendment, its opponents need to reach out to some of that 60% who, while they may oppose gay marriage, favor state recognition of same-sex unions (under a different name). Since this proposal would also preclude such recognition, we need to focus on that aspect of the proposal, its most extreme element.
Although Eva Young has frequently sparred with me on gay issues, she agrees with me that to defeat this proposal, gay groups need to adopt a different strategy than that they have relied upon in past years. In an e-mail to me (which I quote with her permission), she wrote that gay groups
need to learn from the failed Prop 22 battle, and put conservative voices such as Ward Connerly front and center is the campaign to oppose this amendment. ? Connerly is anathema to NGLTF because he opposes affirmative action. ? You don’t have to get behind Connerly’s affirmative action position in order to utilize his support for defeating this . . . .
Eva’s right. Gay groups need to build coalitions with conservative leaders and conservative organizations to defeat this.
As I wrote last week, “we should be grateful for the extremism of gay-marriage opponents” for attempting to ban any state recognition of same-sex unions. If some opponents of gay marriage knew the complete contents of this amendment, they would join us in opposing it. These people don’t share the agenda of HRC or NGLTF. Many may even oppose the notion of “marriage equality.”
We need to defeat this amendment. I am more than willing to speak out as a conservative against it. And I will do what I can to sway straight conservatives to join me. But, to achieve success at the ballot box, we need to develop a new strategy and not return to the failed tactics of the past. I fear that the language of HRC’s release on the fundraising drive for this new group, gay activists are doing just that.
In so doing, they are setting the stage for another victory for the opponents of gay marriage. This time, their victory will have more far-reaching consequences than other such state referenda. For this time, their success could mean the repeal of a domestic partnership program enacted by an elected legislature.
Let’s not risk that. Let’s develop a new strategy, one with different language and a broader coalition, so, together, we can defeat this pernicious proposal.
-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest): GayPatriotWest@aol.com