Equality California, the gay-rights organization that spearheaded the failed No on 8 campaign, announced today it would shoot for 2012 instead of 2010 to try to repeal California's new constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. They reason -- correctly, in my estimation -- that waiting will give gay-rights supporters more time to win people over and allow more youth, who overwhelmingly support gay rights, time to enter the voting pool. It also makes getting donations easier, if the effort is seen as more likely to be successful.
Other advocates are impatient for change and afraid the trend toward legalizing gay marriage will lose momentum. But this fear is unfounded: Over the past few decades, statistics show a consistent trend toward support for gay rights -- especially since the 1990s, when an entire generation of youth grew up seeing openly gay public figures on TV. These are future voters.
I have reservations, however, about Equality California's campaign, given its relentless succession of faux pas last time. Equality California spent millions on a consulting firm with little political experience, only to fire them weeks before the vote. The campaign refused to produce ads that featured gay couples, fearing that seeing them would make undecided voters uncomfortable, and rebuffed the efforts of gay-rights leaders to collaborate on the effort. And there was also that disastrous commercial that compared the fight for the designation of the term "marriage" to Japanese internment camps and the civil-rights movement -- rhetoric that, as one strategist told Rolling Stone, just "pisses minorities off."
Equality California marriage director Mark Solomon's video statement launching the Win Marriage Back campaign -- as well as the decision to wait until 2012 -- gives hope that the effort will be better organized and more deftly run this time around, if only because we've learned the hard way. But Equality California has been loath to acknowledge its mistakes -- "It's the Mormons' fault," has been their line -- and has not outlined how this campaign's message will be substantially different from the last. Until that happens, I'll remain a skeptic.
-- Gabriel Arana
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