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Why I was Wrong about Prop 8’s Impending Defeat

Even before the Connecticut Supreme Court’s ruling this morning mandating gay marriage, I had begun to think that the prospects for defeating Proposition 8 were becoming increasingly bleak. The ad that I once though was so bad it would cause swing voters to oppose the initiative seems to have had the opposite effect.

As Brian Carney wrote in today’s Political Diary (available by subscription):

A big reason [for new poll numbers favoring 8] appears to be a promotional effort by the National Organization for Marriage that reminds voters that a previous 2000 ballot initiative had been supported by 61% of voters but was overturned by “four activist judges” last May. The ad campaign also emphasizes the heavy-handed approach used by same-sex marriage supporters. One ad features San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom saying same-sex marriage is here “whether you like it or not.”

Referendums are notoriously difficult to poll, and the numbers are likely to remain volatile. But the “take it or leave it” attitude of the State Supreme Court, as well as Attorney General Brown and Mayor Newsom, seems to have handed Prop. 8’s supporters a powerful rhetoric weapon. Mr. Brown wanted voters to interpret the proposition as taking something away. NOM’s new campaign argues that what was really taken away is Californians’ right to vote for policies they support.

Having watched the ad repeatedly, I have come to agree with his assessment.  As I rarely watch TV at home, I first saw the ad while doing cardio at the gym.  Without sound, it looks like a late-night television commercial hawking something some lonely man invented in his basement.  That’s why I thought it wouldn’t help the “Yes” campaign.

But, most people who watch TV heard those words.  The repetition of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom’s exclamation that gay marriage would happen “whether you like it or not” combined with the inclusion of the line that “four judges ignored four million voters” makes it appear that the initiative merely restrains an overzealous judiciary and restores sovereignty to the people.

People don’t like courts resolving controversial social issues.

The task now for the “No” force is to come up with ads which focus on the choice this initiative offers us.  Proposition 8 gives us, the voters of California, the choice to determine the state’s standard for civil marriage. By voting “no,” we get to have our say.

They need to junk this “equality” talk (as it assumes state mandates equality of result) and focus on freedom.

I don’t think the new “No on 8” ad which takes on the “Yes” ad will accomplish those goals:

If I didn’t know who had proposed the ad, I wouldn’t know who the ad’s producers were referencing when they referenced “their attacks” and the “they” behind those attacks. They need to be more specific from the outset.  I’m not quite sure how I would do the ad, but I would focus on the issue of choice.

I might begin by addressing the “Yes” ad, then say, “Well, they’re wrong. Voting “No” on 8 won’t effect church status or teaching in schools, instead it will allow all couples the choice to seek state recognition of their civil marriages. Of course, you’d need wording a little more catchy.

The one thing I do like about the ad is its tag at the end, “Keep government out of all of our lives.” Wish we could tell that to the folks in Sacramento as well as Washington.



  1. Does anyone else see irony in the same leftist gays who demand the government intervene in employment decisions and mandate quotas of minority members suddenly whining about keeping the government out of their lives?

    Meanwhile, if you want the government out of your life, you shouldn’t be demanding that it recognize your relationship in the first place. Choose not to get married or partnered, and you’ll never have to worry about the government getting involved.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 10, 2008 @ 4:36 pm - October 10, 2008

  2. NDT, you nailed it.

    My theory is, they added the Reaganesque “keep government out of all of our lives” as an appeal to centrist voters. But, of course, since they themselves do NOT believe it on so many issues, they don’t know what they’re talking about… they worked it in awkwardly, botching the job.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 10, 2008 @ 6:01 pm - October 10, 2008

  3. What’s interesting is that California can be such a blue-hands down state for Obama yet Prop 8 could pass. It shows that conflict with GLBT issues isn’t exclusively on the right as the left would like it to seem.

    Comment by OutliciousTV — October 10, 2008 @ 6:05 pm - October 10, 2008

  4. OTV – yes. These anti-gay amendments pass because countless Democrats (and Independents and Republicans) vote for them.

    What I came to say: I may as well move up my analysis of the lame, new “No on 8” ad from the earlier thread…
    Here is the script:

    Their attacks have come before. And they always use the same scare tactics. This time, they want to eliminate rights. And they’re using liiiiies to persuade you.

    Prop 8 will not affect Church tax status – that’s a liiiiie! And it will not affect teaching in schools – another lie!

    It’s time to shut down the scare tactics. Keep government out of all of our lives. Don’t eliminate marriage for anyone. Vote No on Prop 8.

    My thoughts:

    1) First section – Who the hell is “they”? The viewer is given no clue. The visuals make no connection with the gay marriage issue or with anti-gay slimeballs. Why didn’t they at least put in a Fred Phelps “God Hates Fags” type of visual, so the viewer would know what the hell the ad is complaining about?

    2) Second section – *Huh*? As worded, this part of the ad mounts a defense of Prop 8!

    3) Third section – Ah, finally we learn the ad is about gay marriage and the point is to vote No on 8. Too little, too late. And the Reaganism in there is just illogical, overlooking the fact that all State marriage licenses (same-sex or otherwise) are a form of government intervention in our lives, one that most people want.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 10, 2008 @ 6:18 pm - October 10, 2008

  5. I’m sorry, that ad is just one big lie from beginning to end. Sure, the proposition doesn’t directly affect church tax-exemption, but it is inevitable that if gay marriage stays on the books in CA, militant fags and dykes will use it as a weapon against religious freedom and the freedom of speech as they have everywhere else gay marriage has been approved.

    And the idea that this proposition is keeping govenment out of their lives? PLEASE! Im surprized you approve of this GPW, as its a blatant lie. The exact opposite is true, it’s mandating that the people of California come into their lives and subsidize their relationships.

    Comment by American Elephant — October 10, 2008 @ 6:26 pm - October 10, 2008

  6. AE, you nailed it.

    Do people really believe that the same leftist gays and lesbians who spout antireligious bigotry as often as they do Obama slogans and who will file a lawsuit against anyone they don’t like for any reason will suddenly leave churches and anyone else who criticizes them alone?

    People do not trust the courts; perhaps even more importantly, they don’t trust leftist gays and lesbians to not try using them as a cudgel to force their will onto people. That is what is driving this whole issue, and why the Yes on 8 ad is so astonishingly successful.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 10, 2008 @ 6:52 pm - October 10, 2008

  7. I’m not sure about the demographics of California, but here in Texas, when the DOMA amendment to the Texas Constitution was proposed, here was the unofficial voter breakdown:

    85% of all whites voted for DOMA
    90% of all Hispanics voted for DOMA
    95% of all blacks voted for DOMA

    Seems to me it wasn’t the wascally Wepublicans who were voting for this “en masse.” And it wasn’t the Joel Osteens and Rick Warrens who were supporting it blantantly from their pulpits. It was the Kirbyjohn Caldwells and Quannell X’s who were.

    Suffice to say that voting bloc does NOT vote GOP.

    Peter H.

    Comment by Peter Hughes — October 10, 2008 @ 8:12 pm - October 10, 2008

  8. Y’know GPW, you’ve got a decent platform here. Unlike most gay blogs, you get a fair amount of traffic from straight conservative readers, and as your recent post on Rep. Frank shows, you can get the attention of conservative bloggers who will link to you. If you really do support marriage equality in CA, it’s time to stop being so lukewarm about it, stop with the nitpicking of the NoOn8’s campaign like some kind of elite food critic, and get in the game. Make the case for marriage in California, from the conservative perspective, or get out of the way. I’m as conservative as you are, and have taken as much flack for being a Republican, but right now, I read your blog and all I see is an enabler for the far right, and that’s the last thing we need.

    Comment by Casey — October 10, 2008 @ 8:31 pm - October 10, 2008

  9. I love it when gays like Casey make it obvious that any gay person who doesn’t do or say exactly what they demand is an “enabler for the far right” and is “the last thing we need” — or, phrased differently, a “race traitor” and an “Uncle Tom”.

    What you’re missing, Casey, is that the reason GP and GPW get traffic that the vast majority of gay blogs don’t is because they have demonstrated not only that they are willing to listen to and consider opinions that are different than theirs, but that they are willing to critique and criticize peoples’ behavior regardless of their sexual orientation.

    In short, turning GayPatriot into a shill blog that only repeats the talking points that you demand all gays should be repeating by virtue of our sexual orientation destroys precisely that credibility and accountability that has made GayPatriot a go-to source.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 10, 2008 @ 9:01 pm - October 10, 2008

  10. Casey, I don’t support “marriage equality” which you would know if you read this blog. I also oppose Proposition 8. Your very comment makes me wonder if you read this blog as you claim.

    If you read my posts on gay marriage, you would see that I have proposed strategies to defeat Proposition 8:

    A Strategy to Defeat CA Initiative* on Marriage

    How to defeat proposed CA Marriage Amendment

    I even offer a suggestion in this very post on the kinds of ads the “No on 8” folks should run.

    If you’re going to make claims about what I’ve said, at least familiarize yourself with what I’ve written.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — October 10, 2008 @ 9:18 pm - October 10, 2008

  11. Been reading you for years, GPW – been commenting as well, which is why I know that you’ve said that you’d rather Prop 8 fail. Forgive me for holding you to that. My mistake.

    Comment by Casey — October 10, 2008 @ 10:05 pm - October 10, 2008

  12. If you really do support marriage equality in CA, it’s time to stop being so lukewarm about it, stop with the nitpicking of the NoOn8’s campaign

    After one good ad, the “No on 8” people have started running a campaign that is downright counterproductive. They’re demonizing gay marriage skeptics, instead of reaching out to them to address their fears and sell them on why gay marriage is (or will be) good for society.

    At this point, I am afraid, to give one’s support the No on 8 group is to actually *harm* the cause of gay marriage. I’ve given them money, but as a decades-long believer in gay marriage, I really gotta think twice about giving them any more. Maybe giving to Republicans Against 8 is the way I should go? (I’m a registered Independent – no particular opposition to or support for Republicans here.)

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 10, 2008 @ 11:04 pm - October 10, 2008

  13. Reading this thread, I have a feeling that more than one person has gotten confused about what Prop 8 is, or which way it cuts. Just to be sure: Gay marriage is currently the law in California. Prop 8 would change the law back to straight-only marriage.

    So, of course Prop 8 will NOT affect Church tax status or teaching in schools. Prop 8’s passage takes back to status quo ante bellum (which in California was/is/will be, gay civil unions). It is *DEFEATING* Prop 8, and keeping gay marriage, that might affect Church tax status or teaching in schools.

    Which is why the “No on 8” ad is unbelievably bone-headed, making no sense at all. When the “No on 8” ad says “Prop 8 will not affect Church tax status… And it will not affect teaching in schools…” they are telling the truth. That’s the problem. They’re actually defending Prop 8 at that point – not gay marriage!!! It is supposed to be an ad defending gay marriage!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 10, 2008 @ 11:20 pm - October 10, 2008

  14. #8: “I’m as conservative as you are, and have taken as much flack for being a Republican, but right now, I read your blog and all I see is an enabler for the far right, and that’s the last thing we need.”

    Casey, I think you’re full of it. You say you’ve been reading GP and commenting for years, but I had never heard of you until I saw this gem you posted a couple of days ago on a previous Prop. 8 thread (“Could Prop. 8 Win?”):

    “Guys, I’m as concerned about courts going where they shouldn’t as anybody (though, having read the decision and studied the precedents, there really isn’t a principled way the CA court could have done otherwise once the case was brought before them)…”

    Hmmmmm……Ruling in favor of gay marriage was the only “principled” thing the Court could do? Stop nitpicking NoOn8’s campaign like some elite food critic and “get in the game”? GPW is an “enabler for the right”?

    Casey, it’s football season. Surely you can find some stadium that needs the ASTROTURF you’ve been rolling out on this blog for the past three days. Hit the road, Lefty!

    Comment by Sean A — October 11, 2008 @ 12:01 am - October 11, 2008

  15. Sean, I’ve seen Casey occasionally for a long time. But in my experience, Casey’s lingo and points have almost always been to the liberal side, as you’ve picked up on.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — October 11, 2008 @ 12:37 am - October 11, 2008

  16. “far right” = anyone who doesnt approve gay marriage

    which, of course, means a large percentage of Democrats are “far right.”

    Comment by American Elephant — October 11, 2008 @ 2:37 am - October 11, 2008

  17. #16: And as NDT has consistently and accurately observed:

    “Anti-gay” = Politician who does not support same-sex marriage and when appearing on television has the letter “R” after his/her name.

    “Pro-gay” = Politician who does not support same-sex marriage and when appearing on television has the letter “D” after his/her name.

    Comment by Sean A — October 11, 2008 @ 2:54 am - October 11, 2008

  18. I’ve read GWP’s past article on Marriage Equality, as well as this article and the posts. I must both respectfully agree and disagree on aspects of the subject.

    I do believe that court decisions give ammunition against the issue of gay marriage, especially among the religious (conservative or liberal) Americans, a significant portion of whom can talk the talk of their faith but not necessarily walk the walk. Everytime a court decision comes down, I celebrate like my gransparents must have for Brown v. Education or Loving v. Virginia, but I also cringe at the backlash that may be ahead.

    I’ve only been with my partner for 6 years. Yes, we’re both male. But, unlike what I found written in GPW’s past article, I don’t find that there is any difference between our relationship and my parents’ other than that we’re both male. In meeting my partner 4 years ago, my mother was able to not just understand my being gay, but to embrace it to the point that she’s now the first person in her group to respond, “You know, my son is gay” whenever she hears any sort of anti-gay sentiment.

    My conversations with both of my parents regarding handling finances, the prospect of becoming parents, resolving arguments have all led me to believe there the only difference between a committed gay or lesbian couple and our heterosexual counterparts is gender. For that reason, I believe the prospect of spending possibly enormous amounts of money to protect assests, make medical decisions on a partner’s behalf, or to ensure that children will be provided for really does create a system of separate but equal…and we know how well that doctrine turned out here in the South.

    It would be great to work in a conservative effort to show people we’re just like everyone else, but I don’t think it should take time to to convince people to do the right thing.

    Help from the courts should be sought with caution. Hopefully the Americans who oppose gay marriage will grow to open themselves to the our stories and experiences, and allow us the same protections the law provides regardless of sexual orientation.

    Comment by James — October 11, 2008 @ 11:51 am - October 11, 2008

  19. This post and its comments are giving me a headache, due no doubt to the confusing nature of voting NO if you support gay marriage and voting YES if you’re opposed to it. Case in point:

    “The ad that I once though was so bad it would do cause swing voters to favor of the initiative seems to have had the opposite effect.”

    First let’s clean that up as GPW never seems to take the time to proofread his own posts.

    “The ad that I once thought was so bad it would cause swing voters to favor the initiative seems to have had the opposite effect.”

    See the confusion? Voters will either favor the initiative or favor gay marriage, not both. The rest of the post suggests GPW meant to say either “…it would cause swing voters to oppose the initiative…” or “it would cause swing voters to support gay marriage…”. Several of the comments seem to confuse the two as well. Thus, I have a headache.

    I’m not disagreeing with the arguments in this post. I’m just suggesting everyone think carefully when writing so as not to appear as if they support one thing when they actually support the other.

    Comment by Draybee — October 11, 2008 @ 3:27 pm - October 11, 2008

  20. And here’s the latest example of clueless gay liberals at work.

    But remember, gay marriage won’t be taught or supported in public schools and with public funds, especially to very young children.

    Comment by North Dallas Thirty — October 11, 2008 @ 5:57 pm - October 11, 2008

  21. #18: NDT, thank you for alerting us to that mortifying story. Several of the quotes are just unbelievable. Like this one from the interim school administrator:

    “As far as I’m concerned, it’s not controversial for me,” Jaroflow said. “It’s certainly an issue I would be willing to put my job on the line for.”

    That’s right. This narcissistic woman would put her job on the line to ensure that school children are indoctrinated into celebrating gay marriage. And liberals still have the nerve to insist that no public school teacher or administrator would ever DREAM of indoctrinating school children with their leftist political agenda.

    And the ability to “opt-out” (the pet-peeve of every narcissistic public educator) doesn’t make it okay. The story indicates that the two children who didn’t participate “spent the duration of the 90-minute field trip back at school with another first-grade class, the interim director said.” Yeah, that’s not stigmatizing–the whole class gets to go to a GREAT BIG GAY PARTY and the Bible-thumping freaks get shuffled into a completely different class with different kids and a different teacher (wonder how much they learned during that 90-minute session?).

    These people are completely out of control. Of course, if a teacher took a class on a field trip to a petting zoo and the teacher made a Muslim student hold a squealing piglet, the entire school board would have to resign in shame.

    Comment by Sean A — October 11, 2008 @ 6:38 pm - October 11, 2008

  22. Draybee–first, thanks for catching the typo.

    I do, however, take the time to proofread, but sometimes when proofreading, will add a word to the sentence, intending to replace another and fail to replace the word that needs replacing.

    Here’s what I meant to say, “The ad which I once thought was so bad it would cause voters to oppose the initiative seems to have had the opposite effect.” Since fixed.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — October 11, 2008 @ 7:46 pm - October 11, 2008

  23. […] Why I was Wrong about Prop 8’s Impending Defeat […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Prop 8 Opponents Need a Better Narrative — October 11, 2008 @ 8:19 pm - October 11, 2008

  24. GPW – I appreciate that you’re not offended by my comment and I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but…

    “I do, however, take the time to proofread, but sometimes when proofreading, will add a word to the sentence, intending to replace another and fail to replace the word that needs replacing.”

    So in other words, you proofread, but you do it poorly. My English teachers would never have let me get away with that excuse. In this instance you actually changed the meaning of what you intended to say, so I pointed it out. As I said, it gets confusing. But I notice extraneous words and fragmented sentences in your posts all the time. Again, I’m not trying to be antagonistic, but you are the main contributor to a blog that is read by many people and that has been linked to quite a bit recently by other blogs. You’re trying to convey your opinions to your readers through your words and to many readers, sloppy writing (whether by accident or not) suggests sloppy thinking. You owe yourself and your opinions better than that.

    To be fair, your grammar has improved dramatically since the last time I had to take my red pencil to your work (insert smiley emoticon here). Still, the minute or two it takes to focus on and reread your comments will benefit you and your opinions more than the speed with which you can post them.

    Comment by Draybee — October 12, 2008 @ 1:11 am - October 12, 2008

  25. Fair point, Draybee.

    I should proofread each post twice instead once as I do now.

    As to the sentence fragments, sometimes they’re there for dramatic (or rhetorical) effect.

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — October 12, 2008 @ 4:37 am - October 12, 2008

  26. Fair enough.

    Oops…that’s a sentence fragment!

    Comment by Draybee — October 12, 2008 @ 1:57 pm - October 12, 2008

  27. 🙂

    Comment by GayPatriotWest — October 12, 2008 @ 3:18 pm - October 12, 2008

  28. […] The folks at “No on 8″ have decided to take a different tack in opposing the ballot measure.  Instead of reassuring us that the parade of horribles described by the “Yes” ads won’t come to pass (if Proposition 8 is defeated), they’re now challenging the Proposition itself.  I’m how sure how effective this ad will be, but at least it won’t be counterproductive as was the second “No” ad: […]

    Pingback by GayPatriot » Better ad Against Prop. 8 — October 15, 2008 @ 5:30 pm - October 15, 2008

  29. My name is Todd and I am writing to express my concern over having my Prop 8 signs stolen from my yard. Last Sunday upon arriving home from church at 5:00 I put out my Prop 8 sign on my front lawn. After having dinner with my family I left at 5:50 for a meeting and discovered that my sign was gone. I live at the end of a cul-de-sac so someone would have had to drive down, take the sign and drive away. I have put up other signs on busy roads and the signs are always missing by the next day. Obviously, the supporters of Prop 8 are not taking them down. So I have to ask: “Where is the tolerance?” “Why do those with opposing views feel my expression must be silenced?” I have no problem with the opposing view expressing their opinions. It does not threaten me nor make me feel as if my view is less important. It is just a view different view. That is what freedom of speech is all about. Simply put, if you see a Prop 8 sign up one day and missing the next, the only person who could have taken it is one who is intolerant of the views of others.


    Comment by Todd — October 16, 2008 @ 2:03 am - October 16, 2008

  30. This is not about Republicans vs Democrats, liberals vs conservatives, or even straights vs gays. This is about traditionalists vs non-traditionalists, and the right to keep our traditions. This is about protecting our right to vote. This is about deciding what we want our children to learn.

    I live in Utah, where it was already decided that marriage is only between a man and a woman, but if it is allowed in California, and Massachusetts, what state comes next? How do we keep our nation from being split in half over a rights issue?

    Comment by michael — October 20, 2008 @ 10:58 am - October 20, 2008

  31. I would have sent this in a more general way, if I could have found “contact” info on your site. But it is so important regarding Prop 8, that I will comment here. Here in San Diego, our local ABC affiliate just stated lies about 8 on the 10/21/08 morning news — Kirsten Lindquist said: “If prop 8 does not pass churches could lose their tax exempt status and face prosecution if they refuse to marry same sex couples”

    I also provided correct info. I also sent it to my local progressive radio program as well as Media Matters (I know they don’t do local, but what am I to do?) and DailyKos. I will tell everyone I know in San Diego. And report it on my blog. I don’t know what else to do. Please help! (

    BTW, for what its worth, I’m NOT gay. Happily married for 23 years. Gays should be able to enjoy the same. This is so FREAKING RIDICULOUS! What can I do???

    Comment by PearlOfWizdom — October 21, 2008 @ 1:33 pm - October 21, 2008

  32. Follow up: 10 News San Diego has contacted me and promised to make corrections on tonight’s 5 pm and tomorrow morning’s news. You CAN make a difference!!!

    Comment by PearlOfWizdom — October 21, 2008 @ 5:51 pm - October 21, 2008

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