The next time I write this column, our lives will be different. We will have taken a running jump over a ravine and will either find ourselves sitting in clover and looking at a bright future from the other side, or lying stunned in the gully face down in mud with broken limbs and deep bruises. Note that this particular analogy does not include death. We will not die, as a movement or as individuals, but passage of Prop 8 will make us wish we had.
As promised, our campaign has launched a final big media buy, featuring Dianne Feinstein giving a tough lecture against discrimination. Once again, our message skirts the subjects of same-sex marriage, same-sex couples and equality, pushing instead on the fuzzy generic themes of fairness and âtreating people the same,â in an ambiguous message devoid of context. That said, Feinstein does a superb job.
Our community has been assured that the campaign experts know what theyâre doing, and that the contest will be won or lost in the minds of swing voters who apparently cannot be convinced by a direct appeal to their humanity. These voters, we are implicitly told, will shy away in subconscious revulsion if they are reminded that Prop 8 will secure the legalization of same-sex marriage. However, these same voters will reluctantly come our way if they see their no vote as a vague thumbs up for, um, some vague principles of fair play.
Without belaboring my oft repeated philosophical opposition to this oft repeated strategy, I am on my knees praying that they are right. This once, dear Jeffersonian Supreme Being, may they please be right. We do know that the underlying playing field of this election has changed since marriage ballot measures took off in the late 1990s. We know that it has changed profoundly in California since March 2000. And we know that this is a unique measure, one which does not simply block same-sex marriages for the future, but one which reaches into a world of freedom and equality, plucks out same-sex couples and sends them back to a prison of restrictions and second class status.
We also now know that the massive appeal to the GLBT community and our allies over the last month has worked. No on 8 has doubled up to $32 million in recent weeks, while the Yes brigade now lags behind somewhere in the high $20 millions (I canât find the exact figure this minute). A poll released just after we went to press last week suggested as well that our side has regained the lead, although campaign insiders thought the survey was optimistic.
We are trending towards victory, or at least we were last week. And I read that every major newspaper in the state, both conservative and progressive, has editorialized against Prop 8. Also on record are the vast majority of Hollywood celebrities, top politicians and many corporate leaders.
The wording on the ballot materials, stating that Prop 8 will âeliminateâ the right to marry for same-sex couples is estimated to add three points to our side. On the other hand, while the âBradley effectâ may be a thing of the past, the gay Bradley effect is likely still alive and well. People may tell a pollster that they will vote against 8 in order to appear unbiased, but go ahead and side with the dark monsters lurking around the fringes of their otherwise kind hearts in the privacy of the booth. We have seen the gay Bradley effect add roughly five points to virtually every marriage ballot measure this decade.
To make a long rant short, we donât know whatâs going to happen, but itâs going to be close and we have a good chance to win. Weâre playing with the Ace King of hearts against pocket tens and both sides are all in. The flop is being dealt this week, and on Tuesday, weâll see the river card. Luck, turnout, weather, the general election demographics, last minute news, ground operations, phone calls, late fund raising (keep giving: www.NoonProp8.com), press coverage and an ineffable feeling in the air will decide the outcome. And yes, I have been watching ESPN on Tuesday nights. (I thought Tiffany got a little too big for her britches, didnât you? Perhaps we are in a post-feminist era after all. I was rooting against her.)
One last thing. If Schwarzeneg-ger could manage to say something helpful this week, it would be like flopping two hearts and the Ace of clubs. The governor has the power to tip this race.
Trick or Treat!
Our adversaries at Yes on 8 have issued a game plan for the final week that includes a reminder to pass around fliers on Halloween entitled âDonât be Tricked!â They are also advising supporters to call people, volunteer, and bring wedding cake to church this Sunday to drive home the message that traditional marriage rules. Note to Yes people: we serve traditional cake at our own âweddings.â It comes just after we jump over a broom and conduct a public orgy in front of the children. Please donât spoil our fun!
The Yes email rehashes some of the key arguments in favor of the proposition:
âGays are free to live as they chose, but they donât have the right to redefine marriage for all of us.â (I can only hope that the electorate doesnât realize that the defeat of Prop 8 means that only same-sex couples can marry. If our true purpose becomes widely known, I think it might cost us a few votes.)
Next, weâre told: âProposition 8 isnât about the gay lifestyle. Itâs about restoring the traditional definition of marriage.â That line, I suppose, is designed to reassure all those conservative voters who want to help preserve the vaunted âgay lifestyle,â with its designer furniture, exotic sushi rolls, tropical cocktails, five thousand dollar suits, sex cruises, S&M street fairs and altar boys.
Finally, Yes adds: âChildren should be safe from indoctrination in the classroom and Proposition 8 will make sure parentsâ values arenât undermined.â Obviously this is a reference to the pending Homosexuality For All Students Act that will require Californiaâs public elementary schools to broadcast Brokeback Mountain and Desert Hearts annually starting in First Grade.
Not to push too hard on our No on 8 campaign strategists, but what are we planning for Halloween to counter the âDonâ t Be Trickedâ handouts? Have we come up with a counter punch or are we just going to be caught flat-footed? What if we take some of that $32 million and subsidize the treats for No on 8 houses. Not just any treats. Top of the line gay lifestyle treats like mini Toblerone bars or mesh bags of candy-coated almonds tied with pastel ribbons. Then we pass out cards that say something like: âTreat yourself to equality! Tell Mom and Dad to vote No on 8. If you canât talk them into it, they might die.â
Well, itâs not a lie. They could be hit by a bus or something. Itâs just a thought.
New York Frame of Mind
Hey. How about some good news? Flying beneath the radar is an electoral race that - were it not overshadowed by Prop 8 - would be the number one gay rights battle of the election.
No, itâs not the marriage amendments in Arizona and Florida. And no, itâs not the fight for parenting rights in Arkansas (where a ballot measure would remove unmarried couples from the stateâs pool of foster and adoptive parents).
Itâs the fight for control of the New York state senate. Long a Republican stronghold throwing broken glass on the road to gay rights in the Empire State, the New York senate is now two seats away from Democratic control, in a year when switching a few seats from red to blue is not an unmanageable feat. Gay men and women from across the country have donated nearly half a million to individual senate races and to the state party coffers over the last month. Why? Because last year the assembly legalized marriage in a bill that was blocked by veteran senate president Joe Bruno and his allies. Bruno has since retired, and with luck, Brunoâs allies wonât add up to a majority after next week.
The New York senate is currently split 31-29, with two seats vacant. According to the New York Times, however, Republicans have twice the cash on hand as Democrats right now, and are outspending Democratic activists by, ah, you do the math. Our side is hoping that the general blue trend of this electoral season, combined with active support from Governor David Paterson, will outweigh the financial disadvantage. If that should happen, thereâs every reason to expect New York will pass marriage legislation next year, becoming the third East Coast state to offer equal rights to same-sex couples. (Connecticutâs high court marriage ruling takes effect Nov. 10. Did you forget about Connecticut already?)
Throw in the possibility of marriage legislation in Vermont and New Jersey, and thereâs reason to imagine a solid block of free territory on the Atlantic side of the country.
If we can hold on to the Pacific side, all weâd have to do next is color in the rest of the country. We can start in Iowa, where oral arguments in a freedom to marry case are coming up next month.
You Tubers Rock
Once again, I canât concentrate on non-electoral stories, like the British research on a genetic link to transsexuality. (I mean, come on. Did we really think people transitioned just on a whim?) There arenât any stories of lesbians run amok or gay men butchering their boy toys this week. And I donât feel like writing about hate crimes, which do persist.
So without further ado, I was about to write about the presidential race when I just got an email from No on 8 (via Rex Wockner) with exceptionally good news. The campaign is going to buy TV airtime for two YouTube ads, one of which is excellent and one of which is pretty good.
The excellent one, for those of you who havenât seen it, is a takeoff on the PC vs Mac ads. A blustering âYes on 8â stands next to the amiable âNo on 8â as the two of them set eyes on the sexy but bookish âCalifornia Constitutionâ standing to one side. âI really want to amend her,â leers Yes, and the ad continues from there.
According to a press release, No on 8 has bought the ads from their independent producers. The second spot features a bunch of mothers against 8. Itâs fine, but the Mac PC ad is better. I hope it gets a lot of airtime.
Itâs Show Time
So, here we go ladies and gentlemen. One week to go and the polls are tightening. I am not afraid, and hereâs why.
Over the last two years, John McCain has aged. At first, I didnât think his age should or would be a factor in this race. Seventy-two is not that old in the 21st century, and he looked fine. A few melanomas? Who cares? I had other problems with the man.
But at this point, McCain looks as if heâs in his mid-eighties, and not doing so well. He looks like the grandfather in the drug ad who doesnât recognize his granddaughter at the airport.
âGrandpa, Iâm Amy!â
He adds to the impression by referencing incidents and presidents from half a century ago as if they happened a few years back. On Meet the Press, Brokaw made an analogy to some fairly well known movies, and McCain said he felt more like George the Gipper in Knute Rockne, All American.
You know what? I just looked it up and that movie was made in 1940, 68 years ago. Thatâs not a film that pops into your head. Yes, weâve all heard the phrase âwin one for the Gipper.â But the movie itself is simply not part of our shared modern experience. Plus, if Iâm not mistaken, the reason Rockne had to win one for the Gipper was because the Gipper was on his deathbed.
OK, I just checked. George Gipp was actually dead.
âThe last thing he said to me â âRock,â he said, âsometime, when the team is up against it â and the breaks are beating the boys â tell them to go out there with all they got and win just one for the Gipper.ââ
Hmmmm. I think McCain meant to compare himself to the heroic football players who subsequently pulled the game out in the second half. But whatever. My point is that he looks shaky. And look whoâs got his back! The rightward third of the country may swallow hard and vote for this ticket and some part of the center might fear an Obama presidency. But I cannot believe this tired team is coming back with one minute left in the game, scoring a touchdown, recovering onside, and hitting a Hail Mary.
And speaking of football, go horns.