While I appreciated that the organizers of yesterday’s “Equality Summit” did provide opportunities for participants to offer criticisms of last fall’s “No on 8” campaign and suggestions for improvements in future such campaigns, I was amused to note that they included no Republicans or conservatives on any of their panels.
Please note I say, “amused,” not “upset.”
I’m beyond the point of letting such things get to me as they’re par for the course at such conferences.Â Panelists run the gamut from socialist to liberal Democrat with an occasional moderate Democrat or maybe even a Communist thrown in for good measure.Â Only occasionally do such gatherings include Republicans and more often than not, such Republicans have earned their place at these tables by criticizing their party on a regular basis and/or donating to the campaigns of Democratic candidates.
At this “summit,” their absence was keenly felt. Â When David Binder presented the results of his Prop 8 post-election California voter survey, it became manifest (yet again) that the people gay marriage advocates most need to reach are Republicans and conservative.
According to his findings 81% of Republicans voted “Yes” on 8 as did 70% of moderates who lean conservative, 79% of those who describe themselves as somewhat conservative and 86% of those calling themselves very conservative.Â Â Similarly 86% of McCain voters favored the ballot proposition.
If they want to communicate their concerns to such conservatives, they would be well deserved to include gay Republicans in their conversations.Â We better understand the ideas and concerns of our fellow “right-wingers.” Â After all, we’ve had experience talking to them.
So, as I reflect on yesterday’s summit, I wonder how gay activists ever solicitous of left-wing viewpoints remain oblivious to right-wing ones. Â Given their own left-wing leanings, they’re not going to find it easy to connect with social moderates and conservatives, those they most need to move.Â Just talking to other like-minded leftists won’t help them change conservative minds.
Simply put, if they really want to extend the benefits of marriage to gay people, they need to get out of their liberal cocoons and talk to conservatives.
As least a few people yesterday recognized the need to talk about marriage the same way straight people do and to listen to those with a traditional understanding of the meaning of the institution.