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Why equality 8 it: New report says other data sets are just Props

by Jeremy Hooper

Think you know everything about Proposition 8 and why we lost at the ballot box? Well LGBT Mentoring Project director Dave Fleischer says think again:

I, for one, am open to this. All the time I hear people shooting down ideas with a line about how their research shows this or that of the other thing. And of course organizational research is to be respected and data sets are important. But the thing is: We're still losing, and not necessarily adapting our losses as effectively as we could. So when someone says they researched A,B, and C, sometimes I, as someone who passes a fine-toothed comb over this movement on a daily basis, have to wonder if maybe the researchers should've instead been looking at X,Y, and Z. Which seems to be what Mr. Fleischer is suggesting.

So at the very least, I think this deserves a listen. *Full press release about the new initiative:

New Report Finds Conventional Wisdom on CA's Proposition 8 Ballot Loss Based
on Myth



August 3, 2010, Los Angeles. The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender
(LGBT) Mentoring Project today released a sweeping and comprehensive
independent report which analyzes 10,000 pages of data unreleased during the
Prop 8 campaign and concludes that many common conceptions of why the No on
8 campaign lost the November 2008 ballot measure are factually wrong.

Following the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, media coverage initially and
misleadingly attributed African-American support for the proposition as a
leading or primary reason for the LGBT community¹s loss. This report
corrects the record by providing data and analysis that show exactly why
same-sex marriage lost in California.

The Prop 8 Report documents that the Yes on 8 campaign successfully
exploited anti-gay prejudice through a series of provocative TV ads, leading
to a 10-point swing in public opinion against marriage equality. These
anti-gay TV ads primarily targeted parents, who moved toward support for
Proposition 8 by large margins. In the final six weeks of the campaigns,
after exposure to TV ads on which both sides spent a combined $60 million,
approximately 687,000 voters moved towards favoring the ban on same-sex
marriage. More than 500,000 of these voters were parents with children
under the age of 18 living at home. Other groups of voters who moved away
from same-sex marriage in large numbers included white Democrats,
Independents, and voters in the Greater Bay Area. Prop 8 passed by a margin
of just under 600,000 votes.

The data also show that voter confusion worked in favor of same-sex marriage
advocates. Had all voters understood how to vote to express their opinions
on this issue, Prop 8 would have passed 54% to 46%, by a one million-vote
margin, approximately 400,000 votes more than the official 52%-to-48% tally.
The report concludes that in future elections where same-sex marriage
advocates will need to seek a "Yes" vote in favor of marriage equality,
wrong-way voting is likely to be very low. As a result, the report finds
that reversing Prop 8 in a Presidential election year will require
overcoming a one-million vote deficit.

The report also finds that the "No on 8" campaign had some success combating
the Yes on 8 ads targeting parents and stimulating ungrounded fears about
children, but only after it offered a direct rebuttal in its TV ads. No on
8's two-week delay in rebutting Yes on 8's charges was a costly mistake, the
report concludes. The report also notes a similar reluctance by the No on 1
campaign for same-sex marriage in Maine to directly engage such
parent-targeted fear-mongering, and that timidity on this subject has
historically been a weakness of campaigns against anti-gay ballot measures.

"The report still provides reason for optimism," says David Fleischer, the
report's author, who spent two years researching and writing the report.
"To win, we need to understand why we have lost so many times. The data in
this report give us clear explanations for why we keep losing, and having
that insight is the first step toward victory in future elections,"
Fleischer concluded.

The report contains a number of recommendations for winning marriage
equality around the country, including preempting and rebutting rather than
avoiding attacks that exploit anti-gay prejudice, using the time between
campaigns to gain additional insight and experience to directly rebut
anti-gay attacks, conducting more and better research that is less dependent
on polling, and trying out voter communications that focus on the diversity
and lived experience of LGBT Americans and those who know us.

About David Fleischer

Fleischer founded the LGBT Mentoring Project in 2007 to provide mentoring,
coaching, training and support to leaders of LGBT organizations and
campaigns fighting anti-gay ballot measures around the country. He recently
joined the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center to manage its new leadership LAB
program, which includes the Center's Vote for Equality campaign and the LGBT
Mentoring Project. Previously, he created and ran the national training
program of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (1993-98) and the organizing and
training department of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1999-2006).
Fleischer has helped lead or support campaigns opposing anti-gay ballot
measures since 1993.

"The Prop 8 Report" and supporting data and related video are available
online at Prop8Report.org.


**SEE ALSO: Seemingly related to this new report, our friends at Equality California have sent over an outline of some the work they and their coalition partners have been doing since Proposition 8 passed to get the state ready to go back to the ballot to restore marriage equality:

Many of these efforts around marriage are being carried out by Let California Ring. Let California Ring is a coalition-led 501c3 public education campaign hosted by the Equality California Institute. Here’s what we are doing now:

· We have field organizers stationed across the state. Each week they and our thousands of volunteers are doing phone banks, door-to-door canvasses and in-person outreach to build support for marriage equality and to grow our volunteer team. Our field program has had over 900,000 conversations about equality across the state in a little over a year.

· Let California Ring currently has three committees:

o LCR’s messaging committee is working with a consultant -- Storefront Political Media -- to craft and test the most effective messages possible to move people to support marriage equality.

o A committee that includes the Jordan Rustin Coalition and HONOR Fund will soon be conducting pilot campaigns in Latino and African-American communities. These pilot campaigns will rely largely on door-to-door canvassing in order to test messages and approaches. LCR is also working with API Equality in Los Angeles and San Francisco on research efforts.

o LCR’s family committee is launching a statewide Speakers’ Bureau through which married same-sex couples will share their stories and build support in their communities.

· We are collaborating with California Faith for Equality on messaging around faith issues. We’re also collaborating to mobilize volunteers from progressive churches, organize Catholics and make the case for marriage equality in mainstream Christian denominations.

· Along with Freedom to Marry, GLAAD and Third Way, we are working on psychographic research on the issue of teaching same-sex marriage in schools. We’re partnering with groups focused on LGBT family and youth issues, such as the Our Family Coalition, GSA Network and the Family Equality Council.

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