Friday, November 14, 2008

No on 8 Campaign Post Mortem at UCLA - first hand account

Last night, a post mortem on the No on 8 campaign was held by the Williams Institute at UCLA Law School. An associate of mine, Marc, gave a first-hand account:

"The post mortem panel included Geoffrey Kors, Executive Director of Equality California. As you know EQCA spearheaded the No on 8 campaign. The organization has done some amazing work in Sacremento and is directly responsible for getting the gay marriage bill through the state senate and assembly twice. I've admired the work they done up until this campaign. . . .

Normally, questions are taken directly from the audience at these forums, but last night due to the "huge turnout," questions were to be written down and posed by the panel's moderator.

The moderator, however, took it upon himself to group similar questions and then paraphrase each group. Needless to say, bullets were dodged and the panel was spared from answering any tough questions.

The tension in the room, however, became palpable when Kors tried to explain that it was actually the gay community's tepid response at the beginning of the campaign that played a large part in the proposition's passing. He noted that No on 8's internal polling from the start of the campaign had indicated the numbers were against us. He also added that they sent press releases to the media indicating this as the public polls from the start had us winning. He said the media (and our community) didn't pay attention to their message until the public polls reflected what No on 8 had been saying all along. He said that it wasn't until the public polls showed us losing that the gay community truly became involved in the campaigned AND THAT BY THEN IT WAS PROBABLY TOO LATE FOR US TOO WIN.

He claimed that they had been sending out fundraising emails for weeks beforehand . . . . HE THEN SAID HE BELIEVED THAT THE COMMUNITY IGNORED EQCA'S PLEAS AT THE BEGINNING BECAUSE THE COMMUNITY BELIEVED THAT EQCA'S NUMBERS WERE JUST A MARKETING PLOY TO RAISE FUNDS. At no time, however, did Equality California, communicate the urgency of their findings directly to the community at large or the gay press at a press conference or such.

This is when I finally shouted, "Why didn't you tell us?"

Kors replied, "We did."

At that point, the overly polite crowd shouted back, "No you didn't." Kors got a panicked look in his face and stammered through the rest of his answer.

Several other questions were shouted from the audience when the moderator took over and began a five-minute monologue about how things were going to be different this time around. When I shouted, "Why should we trust you?", the moderator ignored me and finished the summation and ended the post mortem panel.

Kors was nowhere to be found during social event held afterward.

. . . our "leaders" were unwilling or unable to listen to the very community they are supposed to lead. The moderator also said this was time to look forward, which indicated to me (and many others) that our leaders where unwilling to discuss the mistakes made in this campaign. (The most expensive in this country's history I might add.)

In the end, Kors seemed indifferent to the type of work we all are planning to do, chalking it up to blowing off steam.

I didn't leave the room smiling."

This is some heavy reporting. What are your thoughts? What can we, as a community, do to move forward past the mistakes we've made from the No on 8 Campaign?

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