Even though Proposition 8 passed, it did so with a margin considerably smaller than a similar ballot initiative in 2000. Importantly, voters under 30 overwhelmingly rejected the initiative.
Had the state Supreme Court not mandated gay marriage back in May, we would see this as a sign of progress. Indeed, many do. But, alas, all too many opponents of the initiative, proponents of gay marriage, are behaving like children who just had a toy taken from them while they were playing with it (a toy, one cold argue to make the metaphor work, that they had not yet paid for).
Last night, protestors rallied in West Hollywood and San Francisco. Perhaps were I not drained from my election coverage and saddened by my party’s loss, I might have headed to the former rally to observe. I understand why people are upset.
But, I blame the court even more than the people who voted “Yes” on 8. The justices gave false hope to gay marriage advocates. They overturned a popular initiative, fully aware that the state constitution allows initiatives which could have overturned their decision.
And now, as if to further social divisions on this controversial subject, gay marriage advocates “filed a challenge to Proposition 8,” yesterday, “telling the State Supreme Court that the state’s ‘initiative procedure cannot be used to undermine the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone.‘”
I shake my head is disbelief. A court decision caused a popular backlash. And now they want to go back to the courts.
As I intend to address in subsequent post, despite a number of electoral advantages, including the ballot language and the citizens’ default reaction to ballot initiative (voting “No” when we’re certain), the “No” campaign committed some serious blunders.
We need address those blunders and put new leadership in place in the California gay advocacy groups as well in national gay marriage organizations to develop a new strategy. It doesn’t help us to go through the courts. More than anything right now, we need leaders who can better appeal to wary straight people, especially socially moderate citizens who respect, but are not beholden to, certain social conservative ideas about marriage and gender difference.
UPDATE: As I was finishing this, a reader alerted me to Jonathan Rauch’s excellent post on the Independent Gay Forum where he offers similar thoughts:
Rethink, first, the wisdom of mindlessly pushing lawsuits through the courts without adequately preparing the public. The result is gay marriage in two statesâ€”one of which, Connecticut, would soon have had it anywayâ€”at the cost of a backlash which has made the climb much steeper in dozens of other states, and which, in some states, has banned even civil unions. The California debacle is particularly stinging. We already had civil unions there, and we were only one Democratic governor away from seeing those converted legislatively, hence less controversially, to marriages. First rule of politics: if you’re winning anyway, don’t kick it away.
Rethink, second, the strategy of telling the public that we’re entitled to marriage by right and that anyone who disagrees is a discriminator or, by implication, a bigot.
It’s that last point which caused me to waver on voting “No.” As with anything by Jonathan Rauch, read the whole thing.