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by Jeremy Hooper

Maybe we should have directly challenged the anti-gay arguments even more. 

Maybe we should have focused more on the African-American community, who exit polling suggests went against us somewhere in the 69%-31% ballpark.

Maybe we should have highlighted the Mormon factor even more.

Maybe we could have dedicated even more time to showing voters the difference between civil marriage and the ancillary component that is religious ceremony.

Maybe we could have pressed our friends in the entertainment community to come out, speak out, spend out in even greater numbers.

Maybe we should have had gay people in our official "no on 8" ads.

Maybe we could have done more to move the over 65 vote.

Maybe we shouldn't have taken so many votes for granted or assumed anyone was with us until we were 100% sure.

Maybe we should have more publicly called the anti-gay campaign what it was/is/always will be: Cruel and nasty discrimination masked behind a veil of "family protection."

Maybe we should have eliminated potential voter error by more fully reinforcing that a "no" vote meant you were with us while a "yes" vote was a nod to bias.

Maybe we should have directly challenged religious arguments, encouraging people of faith to look at their "clobber passages" a little more critically.

Maybe we should have demanded our Democratic leadership help us push back with the same sort of force that the Republican leadership has used to push us.

Maybe none of it would have mattered.

We LGBT people wake up today to two historic developments.  One, the election of our first African-American president, shows us how far we have come.  The other -- the easy passage of anti-gay measures in Florida, Arizona, and Arkansas, as well as the possible passage of the rights-depriving Prop 8 in California -- shows us how far some of us still have to go before we can benignly, non-controversially claim our peace.  And perhaps the hardest part?  That these two historic developments come with great overlap.  It might be easy to tell ourselves that only the "haters" went against us, but the truth is that many Democrats (even some that identified as liberal, according to exit polls) also cast a vote against our equality.  It can help to be a bit of a mindfuck for progressive queer people.

So while we are still waiting for California to fully come in (current reporting, as of 5:20AM pacific time, has it at going against us 51.9%-48.1%), we already have been handed a set of lessons.  We as a movement have once again been sent a firm message, telling us that our current strategies are not doing the trick.  No matter how much we are currently doing (and we do have a great activist community), last night's returns tell us that WE ARE NOT DOING ENOUGH.  And the big questions now: What will we do to fix the problems?  How many of us will step up and see the need for an ever-greater push?  Who will dare to admit hard truths to our LGBT leadership, and will they be able to concoct new and creative ways to remedy the ills?  And if the Bush administration and the past waves of anti-gay amendments didn't do it, then what will inspire the LGBT community to embrace the politically-minded spirit of prior generations? 

We learned last night that change is coming.  But in terms of the fight for our equality: Weren't we also shown that change is still desperately needed?

**RELATED: Our video from yesterday, when we were worried but hopeful:

**Our past Prop 8 vids

**Our complete Prop 8 archive

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Your thoughts

This is Anita Bryant all over again.

Posted by: Rainbow Phoenix | Nov 5, 2008 8:36:00 AM

This makes me so sad.

Posted by: Oko | Nov 5, 2008 8:37:22 AM

I think it is time we as a community wake up a bit more. We're, as a whole, not as an activist community have found a bit of a comfort zone and are mostly happy with how things are. But what about those who don't have the supportive families or social groups and rely on laws for our humanness? Do they need this sort of slap in the face before they take off their party hats and slip on a reality check?! If so, then maybe this turnout was a good thing.

Posted by: GT | Nov 5, 2008 9:04:08 AM

I think we need another Stonewall.

Posted by: tjc | Nov 5, 2008 9:12:50 AM

Maybe the movement wasn't as far along as we thought.

Maybe the natural state of the species is bigotry, fear, hate, ignorance, and stupidity. History, anyone?

Maybe it's time for an ACT-UP approach to this and other glbt-liberty matters. History shows that minorities tend to advance in America only once they are feared. People must understand that there will be nasty consequences to bigotry. Call it negative reinforcement, if you like.

Wake up people! Anyone could have seen this coming. Don't ask, TAKE your rights.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 5, 2008 9:22:19 AM

My partner and I are, of course, heart-sick over the results of yesterday's bigoted and hypocritical 'Christians' successful efforts. We still feel that it is only a matter of time (and MUCH MORE hard work by all fair minded citizens) that same sex-marriage will be achieved.

We are in our mid-60's; it is incredible how far gay rights have advanced in our life times; though we have far, far to go, we will get there.....

Posted by: David Twombley | Nov 5, 2008 9:33:38 AM

Okay, I'm not a lawyer but do have some legal training, so here's my view of the remaining legal issues; lawyers are more than welcome to interject:

For the CA court to toss out the amendment, it would have to be declared a "revision" of the CA constitution, which only the legislature is permitted to enact. Now, a literal revision means the wording of the part minus amendments is being changed. That's not Prop 8. Prop 8 is a figurative revision: the court's understanding of the part minus amendments is being changed, which isn't an everyday thing, especially regarding a minority. The figurative argument is VERY unlikely to work. The law generally detests the figurative. It is likely to work ONLY if the majority of 4 on the court REALLY wants it to; they have to be downright desperate for it to, especially in light of an election result. I wouldn't hold my breath.

But what about a different option? What about _Romer vs. Evans_? Isn't this EXACTLY _Romer_, limited to one issue? Couldn't that work, especially regarding FL? Couldn't one dare to take that ONE NARROW issue to the federal courts, maybe after Obama appoints a SC justice or two?

Or just brush up on ACT-UP history and storm the ramparts!

Posted by: Steve | Nov 5, 2008 9:44:59 AM

Okay, just one final bit of legal brainstorming, I promise!

1. What's up with majorities directly voting to take rights away from minorities?! That sounds like precisely the sort of thing the "founding fathers" wouldn't have trusted "the people" to do. Could we think of a federal law prohibiting such nonsense, generally?

2. After getting ENDA, federal hate crimes legislation, tossing DOMA, and bidding a not-so-fond farewell to "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," let's get to working on a federal LGBT equal rights act (statute, not amendment, which would be next), including some fortuitously broad language.

Done for now.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 5, 2008 10:01:20 AM

Gonna quote a friend of mine's take on the loss in California.

"Gay marriage is an interesting thing, politically. I actually think it getting banned all over the place is a step on the way to it being accepted. That's what happened to interracial marriages, after all. When Barack was born, there were something like 16 states that his parents could not have been married in.

What I think will happen is that we'll see all these bannings and constitutional modifications, and then we'll find out that Massachusetts, New Jersey, etc are not, in fact, going to hell in a handbasket (anymore than they were before). Clergy in those states are not forced to do something they disagree with (one of the big nonsensical arguments against gay marriage...any church can decline to marry any couple for any reason). And the bans will start to disappear."

Posted by: Darren | Nov 5, 2008 10:03:27 AM

Agree 100% that our equality is inevitable. Something stressed often on G-A-Y is the idea that our opposition cannot win because their positions are losing ones. But the fact remains that anti-gay bullies forced us all to waste millions of dollars on this needless fight, and a majority of "blue" Californians made a deliberate choice to eliminate our rights. Even with our wins (and they have been considerable in recent days), these losses are extremely hard to swallow. And we do need to ask tough questions about our movement and our community's priorities.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 5, 2008 10:09:18 AM

I'm both sad and enraged about California.

I'm sad for Jeremy and others who've had their lives upended and plans ruined, and enraged that any government would allow its own constitution to be changed to discriminate against a minority simply by hate mongers with deep pockets.

Isn't that a definition of corruption?

Doesn't this proposition need to be vetted for constitutional compatibility before it becomes an amendment? I mean wasn't Prop 102 overridden last spring because it violated the constitution?

Posted by: dave b | Nov 5, 2008 10:18:36 AM

I'm devastated. I really didn't think the people of California were that small-minded. But frankly, I'm still trying to get my head around the fact that this odorous initiative was allowed to be put on the ballot in the first place, that it's legal to put other people's civil rights up for a popular vote. How is that even possible?

I'm having ice cream for breakfast.

Posted by: Morry | Nov 5, 2008 10:30:35 AM

I think what is key now in this fight is to focus on framing the issue to be completely about civil rights, exactly like race is about civil rights. Racial discrimination is seen as something completely non-debatable now, and the idea that we'd go to the polls to vote for a racial minority's rights is unfathomable. People need to feel just as outraged when this is applied to gay issues. We need to show how it's not up for grabs, it's not a question of opinion, and it can't be decided by a majority vote. People understand the racial civil rights movement, and they understand the right and wrong of it, and they need to be able to apply that same framework to any and all gay issues. I think that is what's crucial to our success, and even for eliminating these ballot measures in the first place.

Posted by: Eric L | Nov 5, 2008 10:33:42 AM

I agree... a total waste of money. How about we donate the equivalent of whatever we donated to No on Prop 8 to hunger? After that, let's go for it ACT-UP style :)

Posted by: GT | Nov 5, 2008 10:33:59 AM

"What I think will happen is that we'll see all these bannings and constitutional modifications, and then we'll find out that Massachusetts, New Jersey, etc are not, in fact, going to hell in a handbasket (anymore than they were before). Clergy in those states are not forced to do something they disagree with (one of the big nonsensical arguments against gay marriage...any church can decline to marry any couple for any reason). And the bans will start to disappear."

Well, maybe. But MA has had gay marriage for, what, 2 years? And it hasn't been swallowed up by hell. That didn't stop those arguments working in CA.

Posted by: | Nov 5, 2008 10:36:11 AM

A slowly but surely approach may be OK for a comfortable middle class gay, but doesn't really help the gay teenager who's going to be kicked out of his house or blow out his brains. The $30+ million went to shit, our "leaders" failed us miserably. Instead of telling people, "Oh please be nice to me", we should have been telling them exactly what their bigotry is doing to our people. They have an amorphous idea about how they want their world to be. We've all been directly affected by it.

Posted by: paul | Nov 5, 2008 10:37:01 AM

"A slowly but surely approach may be OK for a comfortable middle class gay, but doesn't really help the gay teenager who's going to be kicked out of his house or blow out his brains"

These thoughts always hit me the hardest. Last night, countless gay teens, ones who are part of this supposedly "changed" era, were against sent the message that they are wrong, sick, perverted, etc. Oh, and it was done in the name of God. Oh, and very few people in this nation seem to care just how f***ed up that is!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 5, 2008 10:42:38 AM

I'm so sorry.

Posted by: | Nov 5, 2008 11:19:26 AM

Exactly JH...so sorry for you and for us... But it is the next generation we need to think of and support! and even FLAUNT, once they are strong enough. I agree with every line of your list of why it failed. I am ashamed to be a Californian today. But now my $$$ goes to PFLAG...I hope ELLEN, and GEORGE and all the other celebriites whose marriages are secure start apologizing very quickly for not doing enough.
I do still hope there will be a legal remedy for this usurption of minority rights.
PS. Yes, I am very glad OBAMA won...but there was no question of that for me. Even better was seeing all the celebration both here and around the world with his victory.
BACK to work guys. Lets get an all inclusive ENDA and DOMA and DADT repealed and real Supreme Court Justices...and work to get everyone in the US included next time.

Posted by: LOrion | Nov 5, 2008 11:19:30 AM

In spite of this serious setback (I'm incredibly disheartened and depressed today about this setback) we now have an incredible friend who is going to the White House. He will stand up for us. There are two legislations that are likely to change under Barack Obama's administration. DON'T ASK DON'T TELL will likely be ended and Gay and Lesbian people will be allowed to serve openly in the military and HATE CRIMES LEGISLATION. That will set a huge precedent for us. We also thankfully have an even further majority of Democrats in Congress which is very helpful as well. The political landscape is going to change radically for the better. Now it our time to start acting up. We have got to come out as never before and be open about who we are. We have got to convince the nation through any means possible that we are human beings who deserve equality.

We need to show far more examples of couples who not only have been married in California and elsewhere (i.e. Mass. and Conn.) but show the children who are being raised in same gender households. Show the children who are being raised by gay parents and let the children speak out who are teenagers and adults who are growing up or have grown up in same sex households. This can make a major difference. Though it is difficult to change a state constitutional amendment it is not impossible and as time goes by the changes in the political landscape will help us.

Posted by: Benjamin | Nov 5, 2008 12:22:36 PM

One thing that also (besides Obama getting elected) makes me gleeful is that James Dobson's state voted for Barack Obama. They also struck down an amendment that would make a cluster of fertilized cells a full fledged person. That amendment was struck down in a major way and overwhelmingly. Also don't forget the Connecticut is our newest state to support Gay Marriage. Let's do all we can to support her. She's a great state.

Never again will we let the Evangelicals, the Mormons or anyone else do this to us. It's time to fight hard and to use the courts as well.

Posted by: Benjamin | Nov 5, 2008 12:30:47 PM

Martian Luther King said himself that while we have come so far, we still have a ways to go. It still holds true today.

Posted by: Nami | Nov 5, 2008 2:23:18 PM

I keep saying this, but I think they should have paid more attention to the underage side of things. We minors have our choices. We're voting for our lives and our loves, here. Don't you think we have a right to help our parents or friends marry whom they want?

Posted by: Trickster's Treat | Nov 5, 2008 7:05:36 PM

This one hit me especially hard (compared to the many states who've already passed similar amendments) because one week ago today, I and my partner of 25 years, who serendipitously happened to be vacationing in Palm Springs, CA, got legally married. We also were there during the final week of frenzied Prop 8 ads on TV.

So now, apparently, my 7-day marriage has threatened the marriages of other people who've never met me SO much, that they had to change the state constitution? Wow, what pathetic state their own marriages must be in to be so concerned.

The outright GLEE on the faces of the "celebrators" who were pro-Prop 8 is the worst part. I am reminded of bullies who have, once again, stolen the lunch money or destroyed the homework of the shy, sissy kid. Their life wouldn't be affected one iota, either way, but they have to make themselves feel better by harming other people. There is not the slightest bit of "Christianity" here, nothing but absolute ugliness.

Jesus WEPT.

Posted by: NC Kent | Nov 5, 2008 8:53:28 PM

Well, here's a bit of good news. I've read the petition in the widely publicized new lawsuit against Prop8. It seems the CA courts have at least some history of interpreting "revise" in art. 18, sec. 2 of the CA constitution figuratively. That's really, REALLY good. We now actually have a serious chance of tossing the damn thing! Could you imagine the foaming at the mouth of the other side if that happens? Keep your fingers crossed.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 6, 2008 10:14:17 AM

Steve: I see a million and six reasons why we can/should/will win in court. If you look at this particular marriage ruling and look at what Chief Justice George himself has said in interviews, I see no logical way that it can be upheld.


Posted by: G-A-Y | Nov 6, 2008 10:38:24 AM

A million and six reasons, Jeremy? What great and peculiar eyes you have!

Seriously, though, I can easily imagine legally "defensible" and pragmatic ways of upholding it. But I'm more hopeful than I was yesterday--not saying much, I realize.

Posted by: Steve | Nov 6, 2008 11:03:55 AM

Simply put - the Mormons (along with "Christian" churches) have proved with their complete obsession with PROP 8 to be a Tax-Exempt Hate Group.

Heterosexuals - You better wake up. Instead of pondering a cerebral concept like how gays want the "1,138 rights of marriage", you need to educate yourselves about the CONSEQUENCES when one or more of those 1,138 rights are denied. GOOGLE "Freeheld" or "Tying the Knot"; watch the DVDs. Write it down now.

Your laws HATE us, and we've had it! Yes, I did said HATE - I stand by it. Because how else can you explain these 3 realities?:

A police woman loses her life in the line of duty; her wife of 13 years is denied all pension benefits.

A rancher loses his husband of 22 years; his inlaws evict him and try to take the home he built and lived in with his beloved.

A detective spends 25 years risking her own life while protecting society; she has to spend her remaining days on this earth worrying whether her earned pension will be transferred to her wife (while living with terminal cancer).

YES, H-A-T-E. And your silence on this matter is a serious affront to our families's safety and security. FAMILY - isn't that a cherished concept in the U.S.A.?

So now after decades of disinterest, some of us in the LGBTI community have AWAKENED. And we will refuse to pay one penny of income tax to the IRS until the government (i.e. - you) decide you WANT our tax dollars as EQUAL CITIZENS.

This ain't a vote.
This ain't a debate.
This definately ain't a popularity contest!

You will PAY OUR TAXES until we have what your family ALREADY HAS; your apathy is costing you money as you read this. GAY TAX PROTEST.

Posted by: John Bisceglia | Nov 14, 2008 2:53:47 PM

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