Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Two Different Views on the No on Prop 8 Campaign

Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and Exec Committee Member of the No on 8 Campaign, has posted an FAQ about the failed campaign here.

One particular question of notice for me was how they decided what ads to run. Her response:

"Steve and Celinda and their teams conducted numerous polls and focus groups to ascertain which messages were most effective with undecided voters. The polling consistently showed that about 40% of the voters were firmly in favor of Prop 8 and 40% were firmly against it. That left 20% that were either leaning or undecided. That was the population to whom the advertisements were targeted.

"The polling and focus groups showed a number of things. For example, use of the words “hate” or “discrimination” was not effective with undecided voters; in fact, it made them less inclined to support the No on 8 position. Use of the terminology “treating people differently under the law” was found to be much more effective and made undecided voters more inclined to support the No on 8 position. Our experts advised that the most effective way to win over undecided voters was to heed the lessons of the polling and focus groups. These were different messages than would have been used if we were trying to shore up our base rather than attempting to persuade undecided voters."

On the other side of the equation is Terry Leftgoff, who formerly served as the highest ranking openly gay officer of the California Democratic Party and oversaw numerous campaign efforts, and calls the No on 8 campaign "bungled" and "ineffective." You can see his guest post here.

When it came to the ads, he says:

More..."The sanitized media messages smacked of a campaign by focus group. Such an outdated orthodox approach should have been over-ridden by common sense and political savvy.

"Instead of running a diverse multi-message campaign of persuasion, the media message was emotionless, monotone and uncompelling. In short, the media messages failed to move or even educate voters about the issue and instead appealed to a single abstract principle - equality - that was not sufficiently persuasive or connected to the content of the proposition. Worse, there appeared to be no effective Black or Latino strategy."

In my honest opinion, I agree with Terry. The No on 8 campaign smacked of self-homophobia, ashamed to show our diverse face to the world that has clearly indicated, when presented with the personable face of the gay community, is receptive to us and our call for equal rights. The campaign kept us in the closet, fearful of the world that is already changing. The sad irony - it was the leadership of the campaign that was stuck in the past, unaware and out of touch of the changing world around them.


  1. Unfortunately, there are alot of Lorri's out there still and only a mere handful of people are calling them out.

  2. Thank you for posting this. I, too, agree very strongly with Terry. Thanks for the link to his post - incredibly well written. I hope lots of people are seeing this. I also agree with his statement that this is NOT the time for recriminations, but a time for learning and moving forward. I fully applaud the sincerity and hard work done by the Lori Jeans, and I believe in their ability to learn. I am very heartened by the upswell of new, young activists around this issue. I agree that the time to hide and be subtle is OVER. We need to be fully out and talk about the issues for what they REALLY ARE. Thank you for disseminating this critical and important message!