Saturday, October 25, 2008

Yes Means No and No Means Yes? Really?

Apparently, if you're part of a group that is trying to get a certain ballot proposition passed and you're starting to have doubts about whether or not you're going to succeed, the best thing to do is to send out certified letters to all businesses who have donated money to opposing your proposition and warn them that if they do not make an equal contribution to your campaign that "...they will be publicly identified as opponents of traditional unions unless they contribute to the gay marriage ban, too." Oh, and don't forget to include a donation form. So just to paraphrase: If all else fails, try extortion. Wait. What?

According to the folks at 10News, that is exactly what the group ProtectMarriage.com has done as part of their campaign that is for passing Proposition 8. For those of you who are fortunate enough as to not have to reside in this cesspool of silliness and self-importance, if Proposition 8 were to pass it would create an amendment to the State Constitution to define a "marriage" as being between one man and one woman. (I'm guessing they had to throw the "one" in there so that the whole state isn't inundated by the FLDS or anything like that. I'm also guessing that they used the terms "man" and "woman" instead of "male" and "female" so as to avoid people lining up outside courthouses to marry their dogs. And as I've said before, I'm a little disappointed by that, as watching someone marry their dog would be something I'd really like to see! Just once! I think it'd be hilarious. Instead of rice, we could throw kibble. The dog could have the ring around it's neck. The preacher could conclude with, "I now pronounce you man's best friend....AND wife! You may now lick your bride. It's a shame we're going to miss out on all of that.)

But the way Prop 8 is written is a little tricky. If you are for gay marriage, then you want to vote NO on Prop 8. But if you are against gay marriage, then you want to vote YES on Prop 8. If you are against gay marriage, but for people marrying dogs, you'll have to sign my petition if I ever get it finished. I don't really care for how it's set up because usually, if you like something, you say yes. "Do you like pie?" "Yes! I like pie!" "Do you want some pie?" "Yes! I'd like some pie!" But in this case, if you like something, you have to vote no. "Do you like gay marriage?" "Yes! I like gay marriage!" "Do you want gay marriage?" "Yes! I will vote YES! No, I mean, no I don't! But I do! The gay marriage part! That's yes! But the vote? The vote is yes! No, wait! I mean no! Wait! Dammit!" It's just a big mess, just all higgeldy-piggeldy. (We need a new Proposition. The Proposition that says that Propositions should be voted on like pie! The slogan? "Vote like pie!")

So the soft-headed group over there at ProtectMarriage.com sends out this letter to all businesses who opposed Proposition 8 (and therefore supported gay marriage. See? I said it was confusing.) which tells them that if they don't donate the same amount to ProtectMarriage.com as they donated to Equality California, a group that, as you can imagine, is also opposed to Proposition 8. The letter read in part, "Make a donation of a like amount to ProtectMarriage.com which will help us correct this error. Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. ... The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published." Yeah, see, that sounds just a little bit like a lot of extortion. A whole lot of really stupid extortion, but extortion nonetheless.
The letter, with a very convenient donation form attached, was signed by four members of the group's executive committee:

  • Ron Prentice - Campaign chairman









  • Edward Dolejsi - Executive director of the California Catholic Conference




  • Mark Jansson - A member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (no photo)







  • Andrew Pugno - The lawyer for ProtectMarriage.com.


The letter did not say when or where the names of the businesses would be published. And when Prentice was asked about this ridiculous attempt to bully businesses into giving them money "or else", what do you think he said? Of course! "...initially said he was unaware of any such effort." When asked specifically about the letter, however, he said that the letters "...were authentic" and they were "...asking businesses backing the other side 'to reconsider taking a position on a moral issue in California'." To "reconsider" under some asinine threat? The only thing anyone should be "reconsidering" at this point would be your sanity, sir.

The story goes on to say that Prentice said the letter was intended for large businesses, such as Time-Warner and Comcast, that had contributed to Equality California. He also mentioned that the list of contributing businesses includes companies "...such as Pacific Gas & Electric, Levi Strauss and AT&T." He stated that, ""I think the IDing of, or outing of, any company is very secondary to the question of why especially a public corporation would choose to take a side knowing it would splinter it's own clientele." Well, the ID-ing of a company isn't secondary, it's a non-issue. Who the heck cares? It's not like the list of donors for any campaign is a classified document, guarded by big dogs and laser beams (again, something I'd really like to see). But doesn't identifying at least five of these companies that you are demanding money from kind of defeat your stated purpose of the letter? Now that we all know that those five companies gave to Equality California, your leverage that you were using against them, ie, the threat of "outing", wouldn't seem to be very effective right now, would it? (And puh-lease, PG&E?? What am I going to do if I don't like that they made that donation? Tell them to shut off my power because I'm going to build a windmill to generate my own power? That'll show 'em! They're the freaking power company! Good luck with that one!)

Oh, and nice use of the term "the outing". Well, sir, that had a little touch of a homophobic ring to it. I see you've picked up on the gay lingo rather quickly. Didn't I see you staring at that busboy over lunch yesterday? I think I did. I think you're a little gay.

But gay or not, a one Robert Stern, who is the president of the nonpartisan Center for Governmental Studies, has said that there is "nothing illegal about ProtectMarriage.com hitting up Equality California supporters for money." Now, there may well not be anything illegal about the practice of doing so in and of itself. But I'm finding it a bit difficult to swallow that the manner in which ProtectMarriage.com went about it is not illegal. If you're sending someone a letter that tells them that if they do not do something, then they will take this action which is intended (in their small, small, walnut-sized little brains) to, in some fashion, harm the person who does not comply. THAT is legal?
A one Sonya Eddings Brown, who is a spokeswoman for ProtectMarriage.com, said that around 36 companies received the letter and those not responding with a monetary contribution "...would be highlighted in a press release and on the campaign Web site." She went on to justify the poorly masked extortion efforts as "...a frustrated response to the intimidation felt by Proposition 8 supporters, who have had their lawn signs stolen and property vandalized in the closing days of the heated campaign." Naturally, she did not provide any examples of this.

Well, at least she admitted that they're frustrated. It would be frustrating if all of the arguments that I had for or against something were flimsy at best and people were beginning to see through the hype and fear that I might have been trying to conjure up. That would be frustrating if there really wasn't anything that I could say to make people get my point. But see, when your point is that you just don't like something because you don't agree with it and need to impose that belief, not in means that promote your belief for yourself and your family, but in ways which are directly against those who you disagree with, that's a problem.

I can't even get into their arguments against this thing because they're ridiculous. I will say (out of fairness so it's not like I can't see both sides or something) that the only legitimate argument they have going for them is that a gay marriage was already voted on by the state in 2004. Yes, the people of California voted against gay marriage. And that was somehow overturned by the most liberal appeals court in the country. That does seem like a legitimate point.

However, on a purely fundamental level, the problem that I have with Prop 8 is that it would put the ban on gay marriage in the State Constitution. The Constitution, whether at a Federal or State level, is not supposed to be a restrictive document. It is supposed to be an empowering document. When you start putting things in the Constitution that restrict the freedoms of the people, you're setting yourself up in the future for a nightmare you cannot even imagine. You just can't make the Constitution a restrictive doctrine. It goes against all of the basic principles upon which the country and it's individual states were founded upon. And you certainly can't attempt to do that by extortion campaign money out of your opponents, for cryin' out loud!

Oh, and higgeldy-piggeldy means "a real mess".

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