Friday, November 14, 2008

Um, The Election Is Over

So I keep hearing about and seeing all of these protests going on in various parts of California that are against Proposition 8. Groups of people staging protests, editorials in newspapers, TV interviews, petitions. People that are against Proposition 8 seem to be everywhere. What a great idea that is. Making your cause highly visible and always being in the public eye is a great way to get your message out when an election is approaching and an issue that you feel passionately about is on the ballot. They're going to do just fine if they keep up....the.....wait. What? Huh? The election was when? Last week?!?! Are you sure? Really? And they LOST?!?! What they doing? Where the heck were they last week? Or the week before that? Or the week before that?

Yeah, all of those things I just mentioned? Those would have made for a great strategy...if y'all had done it before the election was over! Perhaps that has something to do with why you lost! You're too late! It's over! (For now.) WHERE WERE YOU GUYS BEFORE THE ELECTION?!?!

And I've said it before, I'm all for a good protest and I'm all for democracy and the democratic process. But just remember that when you're protesting, you're going to be drawing attention to yourself. And when you have a bunch of other people watching you, people that may actually be able to be influenced by what you're doing, please don't do anything stupid. Please? Please just conduct yourself in a manner that is conducive with the goal that you hope to achieve.

Look, you can't go around declaring that those who are for Proposition 8 are haters and bigots. For starters, the word 'hater' is lame. Choose something a bit more grown-up, will you? Second, it's not all about bigotry and hatred. I had heated, yet positive, conversation a few weeks ago about what it was that fueled people to vote Yes on Prop 8. And the person I was talking with put it very simply that people are afraid to redefine what a marriage is and it was that fear that led them to vote Yes. (And I wish I could remember the specifics of her basis for that conclusion, but I think it had something to do with fear making people react defensively, which would make sense. And alleviating people's fears is something that is tangible and is do-able, and that was at least that was somewhat comforting.)

If you want someone to not be afraid of something, don't do scary things (like protest holding a sign with a swastika on it. There should be no Nazi comparisons. Trust me, if you were gay and the Nazis were in charge of you and the repercussion of it was that you only weren't allowed to get married, you'd be OK with that when you compared it to what the Nazis actually did to homosexuals. NO Nazi comparisons, folks.). I'm not saying the fear is justified, because I don't think that it is. But that doesn't change the fact that some of those, perhaps a lot of those, who are in favor of Proposition 8 are fearful of redefining marriage and they are fearful of what it may or may not do to children, families, communities and the entire existence of the world as we know it. (Yes, I realize that's a bit extreme, but so are the Yes on Prop 8 folks. Their reasoning for their opposition to gay marriage is extreme, not valid and misleading.)

Last weekend, an LDS Church in Sacramento had “No on Proposition 8” spray painted on the church's sign. In San Jose, “No on Prop 8” was reported more than once to have been spray painted on personal property. Also in San Jose, a couple with a Yes on 8 banner on their garage awoke to find an SUV parked in front of their house with "Bigots Live Here" wrote on the windows and an arrow pointing toward their home. Are you people kidding me? What in the hell are you thinking? Oh, sure! THAT will convince people that you're just like them and should have your right to get married! NO!! You jackasses! Tolerance? You think those who are supporting Proposition 8 are intolerant?! And that is your way of showing just how tolerant you are?! Nice job, jackasses. Sure, people are going to rally right around that sort of behavior.

Look, protesting in and of itself is one thing. But when you cross the line into accusations and harassment and then go a step further into vandalism, you're not doing yourself or anyone else who is gay any favors. Below we have a lovely sign from a protest in front of an LDS church in New York. That's not helping anyone. You can't protest the passage of Proposition 8 by attacking others! People are each entitled to their own individual viewpoint on matters (even viewpoints that you don't agree with), but you're not going to get them to see things your way by attacking them. When people are attacked (just like animals) they go on the defensive. This methodology is NOT helping!

Now the No on Proposition 8 folks are tracking down the donors who contributed to the Yes on Proposition 8 campaign and making their lives a living hell. They're identifying donors online and they're staging boycotts of select businesses. Don't you see how backwards that is?! You're going about it the wrong way! Instead of spending all of your time and energy boycotting businesses or individuals who are against you, why don't you take that same time and that same energy and put it into supporting businesses or individuals who supported you? If you want someone to support you, show them what their support will mean to you! Support their business! Buy their products! Make a concerted effort to give back to those who are on your side! Why are you ignoring them and paying attention to the other side (who has already WON, by the way. For now, it is over.) Backwards. You're doing this all backwards.

The current approach fails in many ways. One example is given by the folks over there at ABC7-News in San Francisco. It would seem that a one Amy Kuschel, a wedding dress designer is an opponent of Prop 8. Well, that's good, right? Sure, "...but same-sex marriage supporters have been targeting her business on" Why would they do that if she's against Prop 8? Apparently it was "one of her employees donated $2,500 to the Prop 8 campaign, not her." Nice job, folks. Here's someone who is on your side and you're taking her down for what reason? Because you didn't have your facts straight? Because you acted hastily and angrily? Nice. How much business have you cost her? She's one of your supporters!! How much damage have you done by just going out and attacking to get your point across? More damage than you would have done by NOT doing that at all, how's that for an answer?

Folks, just calm your asses down for a minute. You need to settle down or else you're going to do this more harm than good. You need to alleviate the fears that people have. You need to address the concerns that people express. You don't need to spew venomous hatred. You don't need to attack others for their (misguided) viewpoint. You need to take the points that the Yes on Proposition 8 folks have been using to mislead people and you need address them one at a time. You need to explain the difference between a domestic partnership and a civil union and a marriage and why they are all not the same. You need to support those who supported you. You need to have your actions speak for you in a positive manner.

And then, after you've done what you need to do, you can do what you want to do for YOU. It sucks that Prop 8 passed. I was surprised at my own disappointment, as I didn't really think too much about it as it applied to me and how I see my life going. But when it passed, it just made me really sad. Not just for me and not just for anyone else who's gay, but it made me sad for those who are so afraid of Prop 8 not passing because I really do think that fear was the motivator more than anything else was.

Maybe I'm too optimistic to think that it the passing of Prop 8 wasn't driven by hatred and bigotry. I could be wrong. (It wouldn't be the first time and it certainly wouldn't be the first time today, either!) It just doesn't feel that way. Intolerance? Perhaps. But hatred and bigotry, I'm not so sure about. Here's the thing: 70% of African Americans who voted, voted FOR Prop 8. 90% of Asian voters who voted, voted FOR Prop 8. 53% of Latinos who voted, voted FOR Prop 8. With Obama running for President, there were more African American voters that showed up at the polls than traditional numbers have shown. In another election, when there is not an Obama running for President, the number of African American voters that go to the polls would be expected to return to traditional numbers and to be significantly less, thus lowering the number of Yes votes overall. (And it's entirely possible that by simply riding it out and waiting until another Prop is placed on a ballot, the change in the ethnic demographics of voters alone might be sufficient to get it to pass. Just something to think about.)

Yet even with those voter statistics, I continue to see and hear about protests and attacks against religious organizations who were in favor of Prop 8. I'm certainly not saying that the No on 8 folks should be out attacking the African American, Hispanic and Asian voters along with the religious organizations. All I'm saying is that it's misguided. It's a waste of time and energy that isn't going to have a positive effect on what you want to accomplish.

But if the No on 8 folks keep going about things the way that they seem to be, future propositions on the ballot to legalize gay marriage in California could very well be defeated by hatred and bigotry and intolerance, but not from the side that would be against gay marriage. Future propositions could be defeated by the perception of the hatred and bigotry and intolerance that is currently being demonstrated by those in favor of gay marriage. And the irony will be if they end up perceived as being just like everything that they claim to be against. Do you really want that to be the sad, pathetic, ironic fate of gay marriage?

Just calm down people.

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