Friday, January 9, 2009

Yes on 8 Campaign Files Class Action Law Suit Against California

The unbelievable has become a reality.

The Yes on 8 Campaign has filed a federal class action law suit against California challenging the Constitutionality of its campaign finance laws. These laws require personal information of campaign donors to be disclosed, and it is these donors who claim they are now victims of threats and harassment.

"This harassment is made possible because of California's unconstitutional campaign finance disclosure rules," said Ron Prentice, Chairman of the Yes on 8 Campaign. The suit, filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, includes examples of threatening emails, phone calls, post cards and even death threats.

One such email stated in the lawsuit sent to "John Doe #4" reads,
“hello propagators & litagators [sic] burn in hell” and another that read "congratulations. for your support of prop 8, you have won our tampon of the year award.”

Another read “Consider yourself lucky. If I had a gun I would have gunned you down along with each and every other supporter. . . . I’ve also got a little surprise for Pasor [sic] Franklin and his congregation of lowlife’s [sic] in the coming future. . . . He will be meeting his maker sooner than expected. . . . If you thought 9/11 was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet.”

Not that I support any such threats, but where was the indignation when we were harassed for our orientation, our businesses boycotted for who we were, our lives not only threatened but actually taken away for being a part of the LGBT community? This lawsuit is a smack in the face to us when numerous gay and lesbians have been victims of hate crimes, some actually killed, spurred on since the passing of Prop 8, simply for who they were, not for being political, while the Yes on 8 campaign is complaining that they're getting badly spelled (with suspicious authenticity) e-mails by obvious whack jobs threatening them for stepping into the political foray. (see a blog in support of the lawsuit)

The horror of this is that we, the LGBT community, are so used to hearing about hate crimes against us that we don't react as strongly as the Yes on 8 campaign to a few threats against them. Are we as a community that hardened that we just shrug our shoulders when one of our own is killed, beaten, raped? Our hearts went out to "Richmond's Jane Doe", but honestly, that was a rare show of solidarity for one of our own.

This law suit reeks of hypocrisy, a smell our noses have gotten so used to that our leaders probably won't bother to respond, much like the ad debacle. The Yes on 8 supporters give a forced, petty cry from a small scratch in a fray, claiming the rules of politics are unfair (even when they've won), while we, the LGBT community, barely react when we're stabbed, repeatedly now, for hundreds of years and more. But worse, we have been lulled into an indifference because society has a whole has allowed our plight to continue as acceptable, since after all, we a marginalized minority.

So why aren't we allowed to file our own class action lawsuit against our country, claiming hundreds of years of discrimination, threats, murders and harassment? If that sounds ridiculous, then the Yes on 8 Campaign is that much more unbelievable.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Our Post Prop 8 Strategic Approach

A new study on California's vote to ban same-sex marriage has revealed that far fewer African Americans voted for the ban. Exit polls released shortly after election day showed that about 70% voted for the ban, but the new in-depth study found a much different number: 57% to 59%. Out of roughly 700,000 African American votes, that's a huge difference.

Though I don't want to get into the details of the study, it does conclude that race was less of a factor in determining one's vote - it was more age, ideology and religious beliefs across ethnic groups.

As a community, the LGBT response to the vote has been to focus on minority groups in an effort to educate them more about who we are and how we live our lives, to show them that we are just like everyone else. And though this is good and must continue, this new study shows that only time can make the big change. Why? A quote from The

"Perhaps surprisingly, the study also revealed that partisanship and ideology trumped the fact of knowing someone who is openly LGBT. About two-thirds of the state’s self-identified conservatives knew someone who was gay and about 4 out of five of them voted for the measure – the same exact ratio of conservatives who voted for Prop. 8 but didn’t know an openly LGBT person. Republicans demonstrated a similar pattern, with about four out of five of them voting to pass the ban regardless of whether they knew anyone who was out or not."

To really make a significant change in society so that, if necessary, same-sex marriage can pass on the ballot, people's beliefs and ideology must change, something that will likely never happen. Reaching out to this group doesn't appear to make that much of a difference because 4 out of 5 of them, who knew someone from the LGBT community, still voted to strip us of our rights.


So where's the hope? What's the key to our success? The new generation involved in what is currently known as the "youth movement." Just eight years ago, Prop 22 passed with 61% of the vote, while Prop 8 barely made it with 52% (Graph). Many of the "No on Prop 8" votes came from those who weren't old enough to vote in 2000, and not just secular youth. There's a panic in the right wing as they realize their own youth are trending towards support for same-sex marriage (read this illuminating article from about the shift). This shift isn't just for gay rights, but also abortion.

This new generation is our key to success, our hope. When I say it may take time for our success, I don't mean a lot of time. I'm not going to "wait", a piece of advice MLK rejected in his "Letter from a Birmingham Jail". I'm going to help educate those who are open-minded, who are willing to look at me as a person and not a plague to "the family", who can see past lifestyle differences and respectfully acknowledge me as a fellow citizen of their country, not a second-class citizen. I'm not going to waste my resources on those who have proven again and again that though they may love me to my face, will continually stab me in the back by voting my rights away. And if we do in fact get a new initiative on the ballot in 2010, a mere year away, to allow same-sex marriage, I have complete faith that, with the help of this new generation of both secular and evangelical youth and our renewed focus on them, it will indeed pass.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Gay Marriage Opponents File Responses to Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown

Claiming that California Attorney General Jerry Brown's brief supporting the invalidation of Prop 8 "failed on every level," gay marriage opponents filed briefs Monday in rebuttal to Brown's "invented an entirely new theory."

Brown's brief relied on the argument that "the amendment process cannot be used to extinguish fundamental constitutional rights without compelling justification."

Whitewater prosecutor and Pepperdine Law School Dean, Kenneth Starr, co-wrote the brief along with the Protect Marriage Coalition, saying Brown's theory is "utterly without foundation in this court's case law" and "is not only unprecedented but contradicts the most basic understanding of the role of the judiciary in a constitutional democracy."

Gay marriage proponents, surprised by Brown's about face, agreed with the attorney general that Prop 8 should be invalidated, but on the grounds that it was a revision to the state constitution and required a two-thirds majority of the legislature before it could go to the ballot, an argument that Brown rejected.

The California Supreme Court plans to hear arguments on Prop 8 in March.