When I saw the first ad against Proposition 8, I had thought the initiative’s opponents had developed a better strategy than had opponents of past such initiatives. Instead of demonizing supporters of traditional marriage, they focused on the benefits of recognizing same-sex marriage: the state shouldn’t treat gay couples differently than it does same-sex unions.
Since that ad, however, I–and a number of blog readers–have heard opponents of 8 resort to attacks on the initiative’s proponents. (Perhaps a good idea if you’re attacking a candidate running for office.)Â One opponent, a good and decent man who recently married his partner (and understands the obligations of the institution), echoed the New York Times in calling the Proposition “mean-spirited.” Countless others call it “anti-gay.”
With many voters wanting to treat all citizens fairly regardless of their sexual orientation yet remain wary of gay marriage because they believe the institution defines a union between two people of different genders, we need not demonize those whose arguments resonate with those “swing voters.” To be sure, there are mean-spirited supporters of Proposition 8, who do seek to marginalize gay people and repeal even the state’s landmark domestic partnership program (enacted and expanded by the elected legislature).
Most, however, favor the traditional view of marriage, not because they hate gay people, but because they see it as a unique institution with a certain gender-based definition. One blogger who supports the initiative took pains to reference the initiative’s talking points: “Proposition 8 doesn’t take away any rights or BENEFITS from gay or lesbian domestic partners.”