The Campaign that Dare Not Speak its Name.
On November 4th, California voters will be given an opportunity to amend the constitution, reversing a decision by the state supreme court that legalized gay marriage in California on the basis that depriving homosexuals of the right to marry a partner of their choosing is unconstitutional. And so was born Proposition 8. Authored and supported by the usual pseudo-religious suspects with shitloads of cash from out-of-town, out-of-state Mormons and bigots, whose fragile, sexless institutions are somehow gravely threatened by two people of the same gender, who they don’t know.
So naturally, to counter the proposition, the No on 8 campaign was born. Back in the days, not all that long ago, your gays were firmly in the closet. Remember? Yet, as preposterous as it is that in 2008 you would have people actually giving a damn about the private lives of others, more unbelievable is the closeted strategy executed by the No on 8 campaign.
Despite sizable and well publicized donations from the likes of Brad Pitt, I am certainly not the first to observe that every advertisement for No on 8 has been disturbingly free of gays. Author Armistead Maupin compared one of them to a parody of a tampon commercial. Activist Michael Petrelis lamented the absence of gay people in any of the ads on his blog Petrelis Files.
One ad shows a heterosexual couple married for 48 years, expressing the unfairness that their lesbian daughter would be deprived of the right to marry her partner. Another slaps quotes from various newspaper editorials and organizations concluding: “No on 8. Unfair. Unnecessary. And wrong.” And in another, a woman helps another distraught woman “overcome” her fear about two women marrying, urging her to to vote no in spite of her discomfort.
In short, aside from being gay-free, these ads are quite possibly the most boring, unimaginative 30 second spots I have ever had to suffer though.
"I think folks got a little lazy as a result of polls that were very old and taken before the other side went on air," Patrick Guerriero, (who recently joined the No on 8 campaign), told a local rag, the Bay Area Reporter, regarding the No on 8 campaign's difficulty attracting donors, and in response to the opponents far more effective ads that use fear, smear and misinformation (including one with poster boy, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom, telling Californians gay marriage will happen “whether you like it or not,” and another warning that young children will be taught that it’s okay for people of the same sex to marry one another, as a young girl carrying a book,"King and King” informs her frantic mother she plans to marry a princess ).
Guerriero claimed the No on 8 campaign "felt it was time to hit back and hit back hard. Enough is enough, really."
His response to the lack of gays and lesbians in the No on 8 ads? “The campaign just sent out a direct mail piece across the state with a picture of a lesbian woman who tells her story, letting voters know that "she's on the ballot, she's your neighbor."
Oh the power. God forbid anyone was exposed to a gay couple in an ad supporting gay marriage. You know, intimating that lesbians couples actually exist, and, Jesus save us, have sex. Nope, the sexless, partnerless lesbian neighbor. Did they include a cat? All that’s missing is the refrain: “I am Suze Orman, and I approve this message.”
Unless I’m missing something, to borrow a momentary lucid metaphor from John McCain, the No on 8 campaign’s “hitting back and hitting hard” is about “as strong as nailing jello to a wall.” Whatever happened to the good old stereotype that gays are supposedly artistic and creative? Never mind tampon commercial parodies, these ads are the equivalent of depicting a flaccid penis for a Viagra commercial. That never quite rises to the occasion.
If Prop 8 is defeated, it will be because of people like my dear friend Doug Okun, sending emails to vote No on 8 to his friends and family with a photo of himself with his husband Eric and twin daughters, Sophia and Elizabeth, that communicate more than any of the millions spent on these crappy, closeted advertisements being generated by the No on 8 campaign.
Doug’s message, urging people to vote, encourage others to vote and donate to the No on 8 campaign is personal and effective:
“In California this election year we are battling against a ballot initiative that would take away the right for same sex couples to marry. The proponents of Proposition 8 are outspending us substantially, largely fueled by out of state money raised at the urging of the Mormon church.
This is a huge issue for us, and a very personal one for Sophia, Elizabeth, Eric and myself. We won't get into the particulars and arguments here, but if you'd like to do so, we'd be happy to discuss it with you. This is an historic moment, and every one of us has the opportunity to influence its outcome. Please help make sure they don’t take this away from us!”
And their picture paints a thousand words. The No on 8 campaign could learn a thing or two. Or is it too late?
Causes Clinton Fein Supports
First Amendment Project
The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS).
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network