Friday, October 31, 2008


I’ve been working as a volunteer on NO ON PROPOSITION 8, and have become so wrapped up in this battle I can barely see straight anymore. Barack Obama seems to be winning, and I can’t find the time to feel good about it. OK, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but not much. I am really worried the money pouring in from right wing sources, particularly religious organizations like the Mormon Church, may win the day for the other side on November 4, and the right to marry will be taken away from gay people.

So I got my butt in gear and went to the NO ON 8 headquarters in San Francisco to do what I could. I walked in the door, said to the sweet young thing at the door that I wanted to volunteer. For years I've boasted I could hang up on unsolicited callers faster than anyone else east or west of the Mississippi, and I could sneer, "How dare you call me at dinnertime?" with the best of them. The dialogue went kind of like this:

Me: ...Just don't ask me to make phone calls.
SYT: That's what we need people to do most right now.
Me: I'll do it.

Monday I called 110 people, Tuesday 155. Mostly I just got answering machines all over the 408 (San Jose) area, but I did manage to engage a couple people in conversation. If I could just find a way to start a conversation, I thought, I might make a difference.

One conversation went kind of like this:

Me: We’re calling to urge people to vote NO on PROP. 8…
Woman: No. My church told me to vote YES.
Me: I respect your freedom to follow your own moral code, but do you really think I should be governed by your religion as well?
Woman: Yes.

And she hangs up before I can say any more.

Well, I had to ask.

Let me fast forward to a call I made this week.

Me: May I speak with Dustin, please? (I’m not using the real name.)
Woman: Who’s calling?
Me: I’m a volunteer with NO ON PROP. 8, and we’re trying to set up training times for people who volunteered to work on election day on the campaign.
Woman: Oh, then I’m the one you should talk to. Dustin is in school. He’s only 16. He came out to us a couple months ago, so his father and I decided we should go with him to fight this wretched homophobic proposition to show him we support him and always will. What time should we all be there?
Me: (trying to hold the tears back) Ma’am, you’ve made my day. Hell, you’ve made my year.

What an astonishing experience this has been. I have not been politically active in decades, and to go in day after day and sit in a room full of strangers all earnestly working on a cause near and dear to my heart, has made me feel twenty years younger.

I’ve tried to look ahead to the possibility of failure and brace myself. The opposition is fierce, and phone banks in Utah are covering the state with fear of the fall of civilization if Prop. 8 fails.

As always, it is no surprise where the support is coming from. This morning’s Chronicle reports that while 62 percent of the voters with a high school education or less support Proposition 8, only 33 percent of the voters who have done some postgraduate work do.

And while the Mormons are the biggest force behind removing Californians' civil rights in this instance, among other religious groups, Protestants are the strongest supporters, 60 percent to 33 percent. Catholics are evenly split, 44 percent in favor and 48 percent against. Proposition 8 is opposed by 64 percent of voters of other religions and 77 percent of those with no religious preference.

To make myself feel better, I’ve been pouring over the NO ON PROP. 8 videos on YouTube and on the NO ON PROPOSITION 8 website, and checking in on the yes side as well to see what the arguments are.

This issue is worth some careful analysis, but not now. For now, I’ve got to be 100% partisan or I won’t sleep at night.

In that vein, let me share with you a sampling of the videos available. There are more being posted all the time. Some are pretty silly. These, most of them, appeal to me.

If you have a life, you probably won’t get through them all, so let me put my ten favorite ones right at the top. Just click on the names or titles.

1. Diane Feinstein
2. Barbara Boxer
3. Itzhak Perlman
4. Ellen Degeneres
5. The Thorons
6. Jewish Mother
7. Celebrities Say NO
8. Hello, I’m No – 1
9. Outraged Parents
10. Apple, orange and potato
11. No on 8 PSA: Family
12. California: Vote No on 8 (Feminist Majority Foundation)
13. Parents – What’s wrong with gay marriages? (the same thing as with straight marriages)
14. Wedding in Canada (Come and get married in Canada)
15. Margaret Cho & Selene Luna
16. Why gay marriage is wrong
17. Blanket - What’s wrong with gay marriages? (the same thing as with straight marriages)
18. Straight to the Point
19. I Decide
20. Joe Biden on Ellen
21. League of Women Voters, Mayor of Santa Barbara, rally
22. Asian and Pacific Islanders (George Takei)
23. John Cho
24. John Perez, East L.A.
25. End marriages for the Elderly?
26. Response to the Kids ad about a prince marrying a prince
27. Backwards
28. Is Gay Marriage a 2-Sided Issue?
29. Lynn Cheney
30. Wanda Sykes
31. California Clergy

And just a taste of what we’re up against:

1. John Pendleton of :

If you want to see where the NO ON PROP. 8 support is coming from, here is a partial list of supporters. Note the list starts with both California Senators, the mayors of all the big cities, and all the major newspapers.

We could still lose, if urban voters stay home and rural voters come out in large numbers. Or if secular or mainstream religious voters stay home and born agains come out in large numbers.

I don’t want to think of that possibility, so I’m hoping others will look at who is on the NO ON 8 side, and consider where they are coming from:

List of Donors to NO ON PROP. 8

Keep the faith, baby…

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