Too Late on 8

Does the gay rights movement in America lack leadership? Did the opponents of Proposition 8 fumble their campaign? The answer to both questions seems to be ‘yes’.  Prior to the election, then-candidate Barack Obama wrote a letter to a gay rights group stating, “I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states”.

The No on 8 campaign had this letter. They chose not to make any use of it, even as the Yes on 8 campaign claimed that Obama was on their side. The letter showed in no uncertain terms that Barack Obama was opposed to Proposition 8, amd yet nothing was done to draw attention to this. That’s mind-boggling. 

I found the story on Towleroad, but they linked back to Dan Savage, who raised an interesting point that I’ve also wondered about, though more with regard to culture than to politics. The point is this; if you’re gay and brilliant at something, why would you choose to be brilliant for a gay audience, or would you choose to be brilliant for a much bigger straight audience? 

Most brilliant people choose the latter course; to leave the ghetto and try their luck in the world. So, gay cinema is terrible because most gay directors don’t make gay films. Gay fiction is crap because gay writers want to reach a wider audience. And gay politics is leaderless because good gay political strategists avoid the niche of gay issues. No-one wants to be the gay Jesse Jackson, even if it takes a few Jesse Jacksons to get to one Barack Obama.

It’s only a theory, but I worry that there’s some truth to it.

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One Response to “Too Late on 8”

  1. Joe Helfrich Says:

    Well, I can’t speak as to the whys, but from what I’ve heard, I could have run a better state wide ground campaign on Election day then they managed, and I wouldn’t trust myself to turn out much more than a few contiguous precincts. I definitely get the impression the opposition was run by some well meaning but inexperienced folks.

    It doesn’t help that it’s much harder to raise funds and organize folks against something than for something. And the Yes people had a head start–they got to do voter ID and volunteer training during the petition gathering process. Obama’s steamrolling key early states served to depress turnout in key Democratic strongholds near the end of the night. But mostly, there was a lot of “this can’t possibly pass in California” sentiment going around.

    All in all, the deck was massively stacked in favor of the Ballot measure, and it still just barely managed to pass. Hopefully the court cases will go well.

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