I thought this comment from GP Reader “DSH” in San Francisco was so well written and insightful… I wanted to make it a posting of its own. Thanks DSH!
Two truths about politics are univerally recognized: (1) All politics is local, and (2) timing is everything.
In 2000, the people of California voted on a referendum that passed by 60% of the voters. It declared that marriage was exclusively between a man and a woman. The voters of California are very proud of their referendum system: One only has to marvel at the success of Proposition 13, the 1970s referendum that controlled state spending, a victory that has been repeated in numerous other States. Californians are also very protective of their will expressed in these referenda. Try to bypass or override the public’s will, and everyone involved pays.
Still, Californians are generally a fair, empathetic, and equitable people. They have generally responded favorably to very recent legislation by Democrat legislatures and Governor Schwarzenegger that provides Domestic Partnerships for gays. It’s the broadest piece of pro-gay legislation written to date. Only ultra-right wing politicians and the religious right opposed the legislation.
The opponents of Domestic Partners vowed to take the matter to the voters. Led by the homophobe zealot Lou Sheldon and the operatives of James Dobson and Pat Robertson, these zealots claimed that Domestic Partners was really just a ploy by “liberals” to sneak gay-inclusive marriage under the radar by a different name. They will collect enough signatures to place a constitutional amendment banning support for all things gay: Not just gay-inclusive marriage, but Domestic Partners as well, and some versions go so far as to deny equal housing and employment. Before the gay-inclusive marriage, few people thought it would pass.
Then comes Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), my representive from the Castro district, who’s also gay. No sooner does he and other gay representatives succeed in passing domestic partnership, which the Governor signs, that he decides one good turn deserves another. Even before DP is a year old, he attaches gay-inclusive marriage bills to all sorts of omnibus bills, and it succeeds against considerable odds solely with Democrats’ support in passing the bicameral legislature. The Governor claims the bill is counter to Proposition 22, which is the fullest expression of the will of the people, and he vetos the legislation.
The maxims raise their usual heads: The local gay activism of San Francisco, Berkeley, Santa Monica, and West Hollywood is now poised to be opposed by much of the rest of the State. Plus, the timing illustrates the opponents’ contention that gay-inclusive marriage was the real homosexual agenda all along; that domestic partnership was a ruse; and one can no longer discriminate against GLBT in housing and employment. But if the opponents’ referendum passes, all this will be gone. Ironically, public opinion polls show support for domestic partners, but opposes gay-inclusive marriage. But the opponents will wrap the whole thing into one package, and it is likely to pass.
So the short-term gain by Leno may set back long-term gay rights for years to come. What Leno and others failed to realize is that the public opinion is shifting, but not enough time has passed for opinions to become more favorably settled. The timing could not have been worse nor the provincialism more obvious. To paraphrase: One small step forward, one giant step backward. Thanks Leno.
I agree… timing is everything. For all of his faults, President Clinton was a master of political timing. The current leadership of the LibDem Party perhaps has the worst timing. The gay marriage issue in California is just a local manefestation of the feeding frenzy LibDem approach which turns off the majority of Americans, no matter what the issue.
-Bruce (GayPatriot) – email@example.com