In last week's column, I pointed out that the GLBT movement might be the first where a majority gets to vote on the rights of a minority. If the basic freedoms of women, immigrants and African Americans were subject to the whims of voters, there is no doubt that this nation would be decades behind. Yet, we continue to blindly accept that these degrading and un-American referendums are tolerable, when they are not.
Ironically, ballot initiatives were once helpful in gaining visibility. The 1977 anti-gay vote in Miami, led by beauty queen Anita Bryant, put our issues on the national radar. Even though we lost, we were given a rare forum to introduce ourselves to the American people.
In 1978, California voters defeated the Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gay schoolteachers, showing that victory was attainable. But whether it is a loss in Miami and a win in California in 1977-78, or a defeat in Maine and the victory on domestic partnerships in Washington State last week, success or failure is beside the point. All Americans are losers by virtue of participating in a disgraceful process that is an affront to human dignity.
Unfortunately, we have never had the luxury to stop, take a deep breath and consider if these grotesque referendums are the best use of our time and limited resources. With a record of 0-31 in marriage initiatives, now may be a good opportunity to review our complicity in a process that doles out or strips away basic rights by majority vote.
We must first recognize that a virtual campaign-industrial-complex has been built and financed around these fights. There is an army of field staff, media consultants, signature gatherers, advertising experts and fundraisers who work (and in some cases thrive) on these ballot initiatives.
In California, both sides spent as much as $73 million. Even in the small media market of Maine, both sides spent a combined nine million dollars for campaign staff and advertisements. The financial burden for these wars repeatedly falls on the same besieged philanthropists and everyday people who care enough to open their wallets. The four key questions we must ask ourselves before we continue down this road:
1)Are referendums the best use of our human resources?
2)Are they the best use of our finite capital?
3)Are these votes legitimizing the un-American concept of mob rule?
4)Are these quixotic and narrowly focused battles the best way to educate and create lasting progress?
Perhaps, these campaigns are unavoidable and we must soldier on and slog through the muddy terrain of lies and fear-based thirty-second ads. I won't pretend to know the answer, but there is no doubt that our traditional tactics must be looked at with fresh eyes and vigorously debated.
There has been much disagreement as to whether our ads in these campaigns are too "soft". I think this misses the larger point that campaigns are not conducive to education. "Vote No on Prop 8" may be a good campaign slogan, but it is hardly a compelling message for changing hearts and minds.
Campaigns by their very nature go for the short term fix, when we may be in need of more enduring strategies. Repeatedly investing in such hand-to-hand combat has potentially precluded deeper discussion with the American people, so they fully understand how our families are harmed, the damage caused by discrimination and the inequality we face, from taxation to immigration law.
It is also clear that our opponents are trying to bleed us to death financially. We can never outspend the combined forces of the Mormon, Catholic and Evangelical churches, which can afford referendums in every burg in the nation. To put the monetary imbalance in perspective, the annual budget for the largest GLBT organization is only $30 million. Meanwhile, in 2007 the Archdiocese of Los Angelespaid a $660 million settlement to 508 victims of sexual abuse by clergy.
Instead of investing millions on referendums, what if we used the money to send our field experts into communities to educate, without asking people to take sides on a divisive measure? What if we built powerful outreach programs geared towards minority communities? How about training talk radio hosts and buying airtime in small, conservative media markets like Lewiston, Maine or Bakersfield, California?
By turning away from such votes, we strengthen our position by increasing our moral authority. At the very least, it forces our foes out of campaign mode and into an ongoing, intelligent discussion, where it is more difficult to twist the truth and manipulate emotions.
Winning in California and Maine would have been exhilarating. But, would you have felt less dirty and exploited by the referendum process in victory?
I didn't think so.
I say let's have a class action suit against the federal government. there are enough openly gay people who would include themselves and bankrupt this country. Yes i said it. I do not want to hear from anyone touting morality as they step on and deny those that are not similar to them in all ways of all sorts of rights they think they and those like them can only be in possession of. I believe this whole debacle will be put to rest once trillions of dollars are sought. And that is no pipe dream either!!!
posted by ewe, at
11/11/2009 3:54 PM
My wife and I already decided we won't be contributing any further energy or money to ballot measures that allow voters to fight over our civil rights. No other group in the course of history has been forced to beg "the people" to grant them rights via a popular vote so why should we? These persistent measures are demeaning, dehumanizing, and heartbreaking (never mind the financial expenses).
The legislature and courts are the way to do it--always have been and always will be. They are how every other piece of civil/human rights legislation was passed so it's ludicrous for anybody to think we should grovel at the feet of "the people" for what is rightfully ours.
posted by Buffy, at
11/11/2009 4:59 PM
Buffy, I agree with you 100%. I have thought for years now that marriage equality will have to come through the courts/legislatures (in those states which do not have referendum processes). "The people" do NOT have the right to vote on civil rights and the courts should make that clear.
The homophobes LOVE the referendum process because it drains us emotionally and financially. It also gives them the chance to gloat and patronise us when the referendums pass. FUCK THAT SHIT!! We need to concentrate on the courst and/or the legislatures.
posted by Merlyn, at
11/11/2009 5:45 PM
The fact that we don't have full equality in all states to me is nothing more than taxation without full representation. Maybe we should include that in our fight for full equality? Why should we be subjected to taxation some of which go to fund schools for straights and which also help prop up religious cults who don't have to pay a dime, at our expense? Maybe a tax revolt or a movement to demand that we pay fewer or no taxes to the federal government and precious little to the state would make them sit up and listen. This IS outrageously unfair representation and it should be addressed an an essential part of our struggle for full equality.
As for the other side outnumbering us, I think our ads are far too politically correct. We need to fight back with the same caustic ads that they throw at us, specifically targeting religious cults that interfere in the political process and who pay NO taxes.
posted by Robert, NYC., at
11/12/2009 10:03 AM
What always gets me about human rights issues is the fact that the American people just never learn. You would think that a country that suffered a civil war (over slavery), had to deal with racial segregation, giving women the right to vote, etc.,
Sadly, the country has not learned. I think it is getting better, however. I don't think any of us believe that gay marriage will never come to pass. We have 5 states that have gone our way. Passing an anti-gay marriage referendum is one thing; allowing same-sex marriage is an incredibly more tremendous.
These foolish state bans will fall one day, but it will take some time. I think the courts will wait for public opinion to come around, which isn't what they're supposed to do, but it will.
posted by Chris L., at
11/12/2009 11:10 AM
Merlyn, the problem even with states such as mine (NYS) where there are not initiatives of referenda on rights issues, if we get a republican governor, any marriage equality bill passed by the state senate would be vetoed automatically. Its a catch 22 situation for sure. I don't think rights issues should be allowed to be vetoed, that's the problem. When state senates pass laws, no governor should be allowed to overturn them. The senate might as well not pass any laws or vote on them if that's going to be the outcome.
I would reiterate from my previous post that taxation without full representation should be applied in our struggle for full equality. Somehow, its been overlooked and its unconstitutional in addition to the full faith and credit clause that is never mentioned in the debate.
Why should religious cults enjoy full representation without taxation? There is something fundamentally wrong with that equation and it needs to be addressed in the marriage equality debate.
To digress a little, the Roman cult has now injected itself into the house version of the health care bill by insisting that abortions should not be covered 9Stupak amendment). A classic example of a religious cult meddling in and dictating legislation. Its time to take these bigoted parasites on,go after their tax-exempt status for starters.
posted by Robert, NYC., at
11/13/2009 8:59 AM
I agree Robert, an inablilty to veto civil rights legislation will go a long ways towards getting us full civil rights.
I think, though, that we first need to get rid of the ability of "the people" to vote on the civil righs of others.
Not only has the RCC stuck its nose into the Health Care Reform, but it is now threatening to suspend all social services to clients in the Washington, DC area if marriage equality passes. We need to get their tax exemption yanked asap. I, too, resent the use of tax dollars to support the ability of groups such as the RCC to interfere in politics.
posted by Merlyn, at
11/13/2009 11:52 AM
Merlyn, the government needs to grow a pair and do what the UK government did when it came to adoption and placing children in gay foster homes. The roman cult objected and threatened to shut down its agencies. Well, after some heated debate, the Labour government gave them the finger and as a result, the cult had to shut down its adoption agencies. We should be doing the same when it interferes in the political process.
posted by Robert, NYC., at
11/14/2009 8:49 AM
I say, let the people vote and not allow the legislature have anything to do with same-sex marriage. For many years I thought that I was gay. That's how I felt. I was always attracted to boys and men. Seven years ago I was introduced to a Buddhist Center in the mountains of Colorado. I spent a month there examining myself and the ways of Buddha. This is what I learned. With heterosexuality, you experience your own existence, including your physical existence, with a sense of integrity and liberty. There's a freedom to be oneself--to be normal, not to have to fight against a deficit that you're constantly trying to patch up-not to experience these negative emotions that you're constantly having to make excuses for. You're inhabiting and owning your own body -- your whole wonderful, created human body, and there's nothing wrong with it that you have to compensate for through another man. But when you're engaging in same-sex activities, you're going to have to start to create all kinds of justifications...little stories that you start telling yourself to make it feel right and normal. You share these stories with others to strengthen their foundation, to get group justification for them. That's the whole process right there that creates gay culture. And it's gay culture that puts the pressure on the legislatures of different states.
And so, keep the legislature out of the voting business. What do they know about same sex attraction and marriage? They only vote out of their own ignorance about homosexuality.
posted by Justin, at
11/14/2009 9:40 AM
I was going to include Maine in my New England vacation next summer. There is no way that will happen now. I've already found alternatives to Tom's of Maine toothpaste, and I won't buy New Balance shoes.
This isn't the first time that the Hate State of Maine has passed a homophobic ballot initiative. I'm done with them.
posted by libhom, at
11/14/2009 11:00 AM
Hi Justin. After reading your gracious dollop of wisdom, here's what I learned about Americans' nasty habit of using voter initiatives to restrict civil rights: very little. Perhaps this is because you may have a tentative and ethereal grasp on reality.
You spent time in a mountain retreat with the seed planted in your mind (from where?) that there is something fundamentally wrong with a same sex orientation? Then like Moses descending Mt. Sinai, you declare to us what I could read any day of the week in the literature of Exodus that my love of men is a deficiency which renders my life incomplete and second class..hmmm, where have we heard that before?
Never mind the empirical studies of the APA, AMA, APsA, Kinsey institute. If its good enough for Zeus/Ganymede it's good enough for me. Have you considered that we queer folk might just be the salvation of the world, living outside of rigid and destructive gender roles, not creating unwanted children? Maybe we are the healers, the artists, the wise ones?
posted by Josh, at
11/14/2009 1:38 PM
You're right Josh. In most ancient cultures (including Native American), gay people were usually the shamans of the tribe because we were seen as special/magical, kinda like a white buffalo I guess; and since we were both male and female in one, it was easier for us to commune between the world of humans and spirits/gods etc. The book Another Mother Tongue goes into detail about this subject. BTW--most Buddhists I've met are NOT homophobic, sounds like that mountain retreat "Buddhist" center was more than a little infected by western judeo-christian bullshit.
posted by gary, at
11/16/2009 1:52 PM
Nothing is able to fulfill, as long as confidence.Snow boots originated in Australia ugg boots sale about Australia cheap ugg boots leather boots date back to 1978, called a young Australian winter boots surfing Brian Smith took part of a sheep leather discount ugg boots to America. In the past years, the Australian cheap uggs used in New Zealand the uggs on sale, however, sewing sheep with business mind is the young man bold attempt to the Australian australia ugg boots traditional products to the United States.At that time, he took a few double ugg boots 2010 sheep with full of passion. "Gucci Bags" by discount gucci handbags was founded in 30 BC. In Florence, he opened the first store to launch a series of iconic products, including the famous bamboo bag. gucci shoulder bag from renowned international fashion industry. As time goes by, this well-known clothing store has been given a luxurious, sexy, modern qualitygucci purses. It is the ultimate in modern luxury of making. In 1970, the brand began to getinvolved gucci bags discount industry. Since then, it is introduced, such as: Envy perfume, Eau De Toilette, Gucci Handbags Sale, and later introduced Envy me2 perfume sexy, charismatic fragrance. Tiffany is one of the most copied designs in the world. They are copied and imitated for two reasons, the first Tiffany jewellery being to try and trick people. A slightly more innocent use is to be sold to people which cannot afford to buy the real thing Tiffany Charms. Imitation Tiffany Bracelet can still look the part but doesn?t have the heavy price tag. Tiffany Rings is considered as the best jewelry designer around which is why many celebrities are proud to be seen wearing beautiful pieces of tiffany jewelry. shamwow Actually there are quite a few tiffany silver jewelry knock offs around.
posted by uvip33, at
2/24/2010 9:17 PM