When the California Supreme Court mandated gay marriage in the Golden State, I was convinced that the then-proposed initiative for the state ballot defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman would pass.Â Citizens would resent the court overturning a popular vote and taking this matter out of our hands.
When, however, state Attorney General Jerry Brown changed the ballot language to read that Proposition 8 “eliminates [the] right of same-sex couples to marry.”Â That heading leads the section on the proposition in the California General Election Official Voter Information Guide. Â To read the actual text of the proposed constitutional amendment (“Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California”), you have to go to the end of the guide where the print is much smaller.
Voters would be less likely to vote to eliminate a right than to reaffirm the traditional definition of marriage.Â With this change, I thought the odds moved in favor of defeat.
But, with a good campaign, the the initiative could still pass.Â Then, I started hearing from hearing from proponents of the Proposition, noting that the most extreme social conservatives had taken over the “Yes on 8” campaign.
It seemed extremists would be running the campaigns on both sides of the issue.Â Opponents would be appealing to their base in West Hollywood, San Francisco and San Diego’s Hillcrest neighborhood.Â Â Proponents to anti-gay (and sometimes even anti-Semitic) churchgoers.
Indeed, the first stuff I saw from the No on 8 folks make me cringe, more left-wing drivel, out to attack any defender of traditional marriage as narrow-minded and mean-spirited.Â I still refuse to put their bumper sticker on my car (while supporting their cause) because their slogan “equality for all” is a perversion of the American creed.
Yet, their first ad shows they have changed their strategy.Â Instead of attacking their opponents, they chose to appeal to them by using an older couple to talk about the meaning of marriage.
Now, the Yes folks have released their first ad which, without sound, looks like it was produced for late-night TV on a very limited budget.Â As a result, the campaign on Proposition 8 seems almost the reverse of that on Prop. 22 eight years ago where the proponents (for traditional marriage) had better ads (making clear that the initiative would not effect the state’s domestic partnership program) while the opponents (those favoring gay marriage) didn’t know how to package their message.
Maybe the No on 8 folks have been reading my posts on gay marriage.Â This time, they’re making a serious effort to appeal those who are are wary of extending the benefits of an institution which has long served to unite individuals of different genders to same-sex couples.Â The proponents look like they’re selling a do-it-yourself kit to appeal bad court decisions.
With these two campaigns, the likelihood of the initiative’s defeat increases.