In January, after attending a meeting the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center announcing a new initiative, LetCaliforniaRing, to promote gay marriage in California, I faulted the group’s campaign video for doing little that is likely to “change minds.” Their campaign seemed designed not to those voters skeptical of changing the state definition of the institution to include same-sex couples, but to make gay activists and their supporters on their left feel good about themselves.
If those spearheading that initiative are in charge of the campaign to defeat the initiative on this fall’s ballot proposing to amend the state constitution to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, the proposition is all but certain to pass.
I’m not alone in this belief. Pointing out that “gay activists have lost nearly every fight to stop gay marriage bans,” Patrick Range McDonald, who blogs at the LA Weekly, faults the language of the initiative’s opponents:
Equality For All seems to be rolling out a decidedly partisan message. On its web site, for example, the coalition repeatedly cites “extremists” and the “right-wing” as the enemy. (The Human Rights Campaign also sends out emails seeking donations with references to “our right-wing opponents.”) These are political buzz words that will undoubtedly turn off Republican voters, much in the same way Democrats see red whenever Republicans disparagingly say “liberal,” and the gays cannot afford to needlessly offend anyone–no matter what the current polls say.
It never really is a particularly good idea to insult the people whose votes you’re trying to win:
All in all, the fiery language suggests political amateurs or the politically tone deaf are currently running the show for the gays. Even worse, veterans of past gay marriage defeats may be at the helm.
In many cases, those “veterans” sought to demonize the proponents of the traditional definition of marriage. They may help them feel good about themselves by projecting their own insecurities on their ideological adversaries, but it won’t do much to make those currently wary of gay marriage feel good about about voting to change the longstanding definition of the institution.
The idea is to show why gay marriage is good not just for gay people, but for society at large. I’ve said this before. And so have others. Now, the idea is to turn this message into a political campaign, one that changes minds in order to win votes.