Alex Blaze

2010 or bust

Filed By Alex Blaze | July 27, 2009 12:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, Courage Campaign, Equality California, gay marriage, LGBT, marriage, marriage equality, Matt Foreman, National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage, san bernadino, straw poll

Well, it looks like it's going to be happening in 2010:

A straw poll of same-sex marriage leaders gathered in San Bernadino Saturday just came in: The majority want to return to the ballot in 2010 to try to overturn Proposition 8. Final count of the non-binding measure: 93 people voted to go in 2010, 49 in 2012 and 20 undecided.

The next step: Leaders will return to their organizations and then a final decision will be made in a couple of weeks. If they're going to go for it in 2010, they'd better hurry. Ballot language is due to the Attorney General by Sept. 25.

Oh, that won't be rushed at all.

The big money A-gays are already saying they won't back a 2010 referendum:

But the timing of another campaign has since been questioned by several of the movement's big donors, including David Bohnett, a millionaire philanthropist and technology entrepreneur who gave more than $1 million to the unsuccessful campaign to defeat Proposition 8.

"In conversations with a number of my fellow major No on 8 donors," Mr. Bohnett said in an e-mail message, "I find that they share my sentiment: namely, that we will step up to the plate -- with resources and talent -- when the time is right."

"The only thing worse than losing in 2008," he added, "would be to lose again in 2010."[...]

Other donors have also expressed trepidation. Leonie Walker and her partner, Kate O'Hanlan, run a laparoscopic surgery practice in Portola Valley, Calif., and donated more than $100,000 to fight Proposition 8. Ms. Walker said she and Ms. O'Hanlan had "no regrets" about their 2008 donations, but would hope for a better result if they were to give money to another campaign.

"I don't know that you could convince us right now that 2010 is a good investment," Ms. Walker said. "I wish it wasn't so, but that's just how it is right now."

The Task Force, which provided lots of staff and money for the 2008 campaign, has also stated their opposition to going forward in 2010.

A ballot battle in 2010 would likely raise much less money than the $40-odd million raised in 2008, for a variety of reasons. Donors have already been tapped, the economy is doing worse, it isn't playing defense, and there's much less confidence in their ability to win. Even so, I could see such a fight taking away resources from Maine, which will also have a ballot initiative to take away same-sex marriage in 2010, in much the same way as California drained resources from the fight in 2008 in Arizona.

The poll numbers just aren't moving, and it's unlikely that they'll be there by next November:

Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, said he spent June and early July asking the opinions of nearly two dozen California political consultants and pollsters and had been surprised by the almost unanimous opinion that a 2010 race was a bad idea.

"I expected having watched the protests and the real pain that the L.G.B.T. community had experienced that there would be some real measurable remorse in the electorate," Mr. Solomon said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. "But if you look at the poll numbers since November, they really haven't moved at all."[...]

Opponents of the 2010 campaign say that window is simply too small to change the opinions of enough voters to win, including groups in which Proposition 8 was popular, like African-Americans, religious conservatives and the elderly.

"What we've learned is that yes, you can change hearts and minds, but it takes time, focused energy, and money," said Matt Foreman, the program director of the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a frequent donor to gay rights causes. "And once a measure is on the ballot and the campaign begins, its almost impossible to change anyone's mind, because people are being bombarded with lies."

The protests were fun and all, but, as Solomon found out, they didn't do a good job of changing people's opinions on the issue. Seeing "real pain" from a group of people that, frankly, the population at large doesn't care about isn't enough to get them to realize the error of their ways.

Either way, there's nothing that opponents can do to prevent them from going forward in 2010, so I'd expect to see it happen.

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These seem more like threats to move the date. But if they refuse to back the final decision, it will be a self-fulfilling prophecy, as they themselves helped in the campaign's failure by deliberately denying them money.

What many gays I've come across fail to notice (since their heads are so stuck up in some other ass at their bar of preference in x gay mecca) is that, even if there is a visible gay community, that doesn't mean your straight neighbors respect you.

Look at Miami Beach. Supposed gay mecca, robust presence of a gay community. Rise in gay bashings over there, the straights have been infiltrating and pushing out gay neighborhoods. The Cuban community bears no respect for gays there. Neither do other minorities.

Look at Ft. Lauderdale. Supposed bumbling gay community, and you have Jim Naugle.

The U.S. and the cities aren't as accepting as many privileged queers think. There are many, many straights who still have misconceptions about us.

And Prop 8 was a wake-up call. Frankly, I don't see this going anywhere either on 2010 or 2012. People who have negative opinions on marriage seldom change. They have to die out, or we need to go an election where the progressive and young base is energized to vote while the Christian set stays at home.

Chitown Kev | July 27, 2009 4:07 PM

Yeah, on straights moving out gays in gayborhoods, Chicago is having the same problem.

My question isn't in regard to POC's and the vote. per se, and more to do with California's budget crisis and the threat to other vitally needed LGBT social services. California has a solid domestic partnership law on the books for the time being so can social servces and needed grassroots work (in minority communities and inland California) be tended to? That, at least to me, seems necessary.

Don't be so sure, Alex.

I'm not opposed to an effort in 2010. I see lots of problems with a campaign in 2012.

I have an understanding of the world outside of California and I also see how federal solutions are possible that would make a repeal effort unnecessary (a DOMA repeal and or a successful federal lawsuit). There are many difficult decisions to make and for every viewpoint there seems to be an excellent rebuttal. This won't be easy...a repeal of 8 or the passage of ENDA or a repeal of DADT or preserving Maine or putting up with people that rag on everything that is suggested to build coalitions (from organizing a march on DC to resistance of the influence of major LGBT players that want to run everything).

There are significant numbers of people that don't want to wait and I think that is honorable and their concerns are worthy of consideration. Their impatience doesn't equate to thumbing a nose at situations elsewhere.

Many different tactics must be employed to change the way this f-ed up country thinks. Protests and demonstrations are one important is coming are attempts to change hearts and minds (whatever that means).

I'm not interested in stifling anyone that wants to take action now. It's up to those people to state their case and attract support and do what needs to be done to get a repeal on the ballot. If they can attract enough attention and support to get it that far, then why should I get in the way?

If we all woke up tomorrow morning with the same vision for success and marched in line to the same beat and achieved victory after victory causing str8s everywhere to acknowledge how wrong they have been you wouldn't have anything to be snarky or dismissive or bent out of shape about.

Embrace the discord. It works for you.

I'm all about the discord, Patrick. It's the only way I can co-run a site like this one. :)

I'm not worried about another fight in Cali taking focus away from bills in Washington. Those are two very different activist structures that will both continue to work just fine. Sure, LGBT media will need to keep up and not get distracted by the shiny object that's much easier to interpret out in California, but still.

What I think are issues are Maine, 2012, and other non-marriage LGBT issues in California (like HIV/AIDS funding the got cut and queer homelessness). I think it is a problem to tap donors for 2010 and then go back to them for 2012 - it's spreading the cash too thin. Plus there's plenty of volunteer work to be doing now to set up for a 2012 campaign - I don't anyone is saying to wait when it comes to work, just wait when it comes to putting marriage on the ballot again.

Discord is great if it increases participation, but Prop 8 definitely sucked all the air out of the room last year. Even those of us who weren't in California weren't able to pay attention to much else. I know the activists at San Bernadino didn't, but I just hope that the people they represent and others calling for 2010 aren't taking this lightly. This isn't something that we can keep on putting on the ballot every 2 years with a decent effort, not financially or emotionally. The last thing this should become is a perpetual ballot issue, like lifting the estate tax was in WA when I lived there.

The question I have is what organizations are they asking? Because to be honest, I feel like they aren't really listening to the community. So many organizations are saying NO, many of which are QPOC groups. And I wonder if they are really listening to those voices. And the fact that they are looking to same-sex marriage advocates instead of the broader queer community seems very narrow. Groups who work on other queer issues should definitely be asked how they feel about our resources being used on a ballot measure that might not pass. It's just like the Courage Campaign saying the majority of their members want to go for it in 2010. This doesn't just affect the Courage Campaign members, this is something we truly need to consider as a community. And we need to listen to everyone, especially QPOC who were definitely disheartened by the lack of outreach and understanding before and after Prop 8. And we need to listen to groups who have other goals than same-sex marriage.

Did you hear anyting about the summit that took place last Saturday? It was many things...both a hot mess and first step.

A summary and a video are available here:

How does anyone know when the QPOC groups will be ready? What would it take? Is it about money or outreach? Are they doing it themselves (fund raising and reaching out) or are they in need of help and participation from communitites outside of theirs?

Communities of color have to be part of a movement for LGBT civil rights. They should not have been absent in 2008.

It wasn't their fault Prop 8 passed. Far more white people voted to pass 8 than voted in any other racially identified group (combined). I don't think we necesarily need to buy into the claims of racial disharmony and I don't think we need to resolve racisim before we can address homophobic laws.

If we have to wait - more due the lack of time to honestly organize before a repeal than anything else - then we should know what it is that QPOC organizations are going to do or need to do before any repeal process begins.

Watch some of the summit if you can. This is going to take time...but really we have to stop talking in terms of singular campaigns and prioritizing issues and thinking that everyone has to agree and be happy before anything can happen.

I definitely suggest you read Tobi's comment. Ze (pgp?) makes some very good arguments.

And building on that, it's not when "they" will be ready, it's when WE will be ready, as QPOC groups are just as much a part of the queer community. And it's not just QPOC groups that are wanting to make sure we can win (as I am sure there are QPOC groups who might be for trying in 2010), it's groups like the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the ACLU, GSA Network, and interfaith organizations. Would you listen to their voices (

Oh and we need to address racism, always, in everything we do. Justice isn't about "just us". Fortunately there are groups like the NGLTF who work on issues of racial and economic justice in the queer community.

colored queer | July 27, 2009 2:08 PM

It is obvious that LGBT institutions have not learned anything from the loss of prop 8. Read closely in NYT article: not a single LGBT person of color has been quoted because there is none of any significant strature in whie gay orgs. And you are talking about winning in a state where minorities are huge in numbers and white gays held Blacks and even latinos responsible for their losses.

The question is not 2010 or 2012 but whether white gays would address their deep seated racism in gay institutions (who are running these campaigns) and let the next generation of LGBT people of color leaders grow to win not just in CA but everywhere else with changing demographics in this country.

Or perhaps it is time for gay foot soldiers to revolt and hold these white dominated gay orgs accountable and shame them for being racist as these power hoarders bring shame to the entire gay community and it was not just those running these racist gay orgs lost but the entire gay community including LGBT people of color lost.

Thank you so much for this comment. You put it much better than I could. They should definitely be held accountable.

If the article fails to quote people of color (how do you know that?) then why is that the fault of any LGBT organization?

A NY Times journalist wrote the piece, right?

It sure is easy to whip up outrage.

Did you attend or watch the summit? Are you going to be part of the next steps?

I love to heckle as much as the next guy.

colored queer | July 27, 2009 3:01 PM

The people who were quoted in the article are all whites from Matt Foreman to Mark Solomon. Please don't even deny that those are not whites because you cannot really hide their color. LGBT people of color are aware how white gays are trying to set up shops in minority hoods to sell gay marriage. Do you really think that those strategies would work ?

And why dont you send an email (pick ten national gay groups) and question their data on racial strutures of their orgs from their board to staff and upper management. Did the gathering at the summit of gay "leaders" look like the republican conventions with POC scattered around for photo ops?

NYT actually mentioned in the last piece few weeks how a white led campaign on prop 8 failed to engage people of color.

Please do your homework before you ask questions.

"LGBT people of color are aware how white gays are trying to set up shops in minority hoods to sell gay marriage. Do you really think that those strategies would work ?"

Really? I haven't heard this was happening. Please tell me more about these store fronts being opened to sell gay marriage to communities of color.

What strategy would work to be inclusive?

Also - the article we are discussing was written by the NY TImes. Are you accusing them of racial insensitivity or just the people that were asked to respond to the reporter?

I don't think Forman or Solomon wrote the article or submitted it to the Times. They were asked. It sounds like your beef is with the Times.

Granted, there were no peoples of color asked about the repeal. Whose fault is that?

I'm not disputing the lousy campaign run last year. I agree. I agree that QPOC need to be an integral part of a repeal campaign no matter what year.

The summit was moderated by an African American man. I watched intermittantly and did see participation at the microphone by a diverse crowd.

colored queer | July 27, 2009 6:12 PM


If you do some research you would find that white gay institutions are quietly setting up storefronts in communities of color with the help of some tokens of color that they have got onboard. These docile, ineffective tokens have no credibility in communities of color and are generally not active in the communities that they are supposed to target. And according to one gay black blogger in one case in CA such a storefront is being set up in the name of people of color acutally hired first white staff member -- makes you wonder how these gay groups are spending dollars???

No, my beef is not with the Times -- you are misreading me. I said few weeks ago, even NYT in a piece on prop 8 mentioned how a white led prop 8 campaign failed to reach out to communities of color. I appalaud NYT for that racial analysis in gay community because it is only through media we would be able to bring shame to white gay institutions and challenge their racism which was always there but got exposed after prop 8. And wise writers at NYT most probably realize the resistance of white gays to let people of color into their good old boy/girl networks and it remains to be seen if NYT would actually undertake an analysis of gay organizations and how race plays a role in defining the agenda or how white gays have impacted the socio-economic status of LGBT people of color by excluding them from any gains of the movement so far. Whereever possible LGBT people of color through our own networks will push the media to focus on racism in gay community.

yes, I agree with you that racism would survive prop 8 whether it stays or goes. So, would homophobia. But, we can all work to challenge both ills in the society and only a strategy which is broad and inclusive of different groups will create a movement. We all thought we learned something from Obama but I guess not especially white gays are showing their true colors now with Obama and have been so dismissive and highly critical of him. But, Obama created a grassroots movement that overcame the fame and monies of Clintons and Republicans and his strategies, programs are geard to uplift all working, poor people of all colors and sexual orientations and obviously white gay leadership cannot connect to the issues of poor people (mostly of color).

Re: "Whose fault is that?"

The fact that QPOC were not represented in the NYT article might be representative of two situations
a) the queer organizations contacted do not have diverse leadership
b) the NYT did not contact QPOC organizations/activists

Both of these situations speak to white privilege.

Yes, this exactly.

Queers of color have been consistently left out of the decision making and strategizing. I think 2010 might be a bad idea, but I could be pursueded on that. The piece that I see as clearly a problem is that once again voices and input from queers of color are being ignored.

In 2008 we argued that there should be spanish (and other) language ads. We argued that neighborhoods primarily of people of color should be canvased. Yet we were told by the white leadership no. When those things did happen, they happened half-heartedly. Then when people of color who had not been reached out to did not vote with us, people of color -- not the white strategists who decided that voters of color were not important enough -- were blamed.

Even here, some commenters are talking about people of color as if we aren't in the discussion. How do you know what the qpoc groups need? Ask them. I'm not in CA and can't speak for those groups, but people have told me that the groups that don't want 2010 are asking for 2012. We're not talking about potentially waiting forever, we're talking about 2010 or 2012.

But regardless of the timeline, we cannot win with another majority white led campaign that balks at the idea of canvasing in neighborhoods of color or having ads targeting people of color. And I don't see that changing if the "coalition of the willing" moves forward without the participation of queer people of color organizations (or unions, or family organizations, and so on).

The text from the awfully named coalition of the willing is found within this section of the agenda proposed for Saturday's meeting:

"What kind of decision making process would you like to see our community rely on in determining when and how we go back to the ballot box?"

"Coalition of the willing: Organizations who want to procede in 2010 will meet to develop a campaign plan that will address the concerns identified and present a process to win. This coalition will provide a progress report to organizations and individuals who are undecided or leaning to 2012 before making a final decision."

The QPACs are either going to be part of the coalition or they will be presented a report that is either persuasive or not.

2012 should not be automatically the default if 2010 isn't achievable. 2012 is an uphill climb for some of the same reasons 2010 is - AND for many other reasons (like Obama's re-election) that are not part of 2010.

How will the QPOC handle a repeal of Prop 8 in 2012 when they are also looking to help Obama get re-elected? Do they have enough money and resources to handle that challenge now? Will they in two years?

There isn't a right answer to be achieved here. Queers of color are in the same boat as the queers that lack color. We can spend the rest of our lives discussing the varieties of queer - class, race, gender, age - and that exercise in philosophy is never going to result in a movement. We need to stop theorizing and continue to meet and make efforts to participate and make sure our voices are heard.

I'm not counting on the whities in charge of the No on 8 campaign to speak for me and I happen to be...gasp!...white!

I can promise you this, though, racism will survive no matter when or if Prop 8 is ever repealed.

I think its important for any group working on social justice to have an idea of how race, gender, class, sexuality, nationality, etc. intersect and are important. And I believe that we can (and are) building coalitions based on intersectional justice. And I think part of that is recognizing privilege (white, male, cisgender, class, etc.) and I'm not sure many in the forefront (or at least the mainstream) queer movement, are doing that.

I suggest someone contact Andrea Shorter, Coalition Coordinator at Equality California for information about minorities working on marriage equality. She is African-American, lesbian, and a woman with impressive experience. (see for contact information)This is a good person to contact as part of a homework assignment.

I am attempting to understand how we are going to run any sort of campaign when well intentioned and hard working white people are flat out dismissed as racist without any documentation or proof.

Polling and 34 years of personal experience clearly shows that in-your-face anger, and accusations will not change hearts and minds, people, white or otherwise, will simply walk away from bombast.

Alex, I am tired of hearing about white privilege. I am a 59 year old white gay male, HIV negative, living in poverty with a diagnosis of PTSD, a group you seem to not cover or talk about in your blog.

Alex - why not do some research and present some useful facts instead of tired 70's jargon? I suggest starting with the polling data about Proposition 8.

SF Hero,

I don't doubt that there are people of color involved to some degree. I do know that it wasn't to a large enough degree last time. I am worried that that same mistake will be repeated.

I don't know of any white folks being dismissed as racists without any documentation or proof. In fact, I don't think any individual was ever named. We're talking about organizations. And at least from me, I haven't said they are racist, just that they refuse to prioritize reaching out to communities of color -- of course, that does sound kinda racist and you can certainly draw that conclusion, but it's not about what they are, it's about what they did.

As for documentation and proof, do you need proper citations or something? After we complained about the lack of PoC outreach, the campaign said they had an outreach "plan," which consisted solely of a letter some PoC leaders had signed. They finally rolled out a Spanish translation of a generic ad in the last week of the campaign. A friend of mine who was employed with the campaign told me that they never canvased the prominant neighborhoods of color despite his complaining about it. I don't care if anyone thinks they are a racist, I just care about the behavior of dismissing people of color as not necessary -- in this case, moving forward without PoC (and many other) queer organizations on board -- and frankly, that's only going to hurt the entire movement.

Just in case there's any confusion: I only post comments on Bilerico under the full name "Alex Blaze." All other Alexes are welcome to comment.

But to the Alex Blazes who friended me on Facebook: Bitches find other handles.

Note, I am not [the wonderful] Alex Blaze (just to clear that up), so I am not a blogger.

Also, I apologize if anything I said sounded accusing or that I was pinning anyone as racist. I definitely understand that productive conversations occur when people aren't being defensive. If anything I was trying point out that (as Tobi and 'colored queer' put it clearly) that the queer community did a pretty lousy job in 2008 and it seems like they might be repeating some of their mistakes, including not listening to voices of color. And I could be wrong, I am not in California, maybe I do need to do more research on that. But I certainly do hope the leadership of the 2010 camp is taking this into consideration.

And a note on privilege. Everybody has privilege {having privilege doesn't make you a bad person}, and also things that make them targeted. Every one with white skin, has an inherent unearned privilege in American society. There will obviously be a difference in how people experience this. An upper class white person will most likely have more advantage tagged to their race (in addition to class privilege), then a well less-off white person. But the crazy thing about white privilege is the ability to deny it.

Also what would I find in the 2008 polling data?

Haha, no worries.

About race, the issue here isn't that any specific person is racist. What became the issue in 2008 was that people of one cultural background were running the show and making decisions based on their incomplete understanding of how things work in California, geographically, strategically, culturally, etc. It didn't work, and I think that there have been some steps taken by LGBT activists in California to try to overcome that. The problem is that they're actually going to have to cede some power, and when a real campaign structure has been created we'll be able to see if they're willing to do that.

If y'all are interested in this topic, Karen Ocamb (who was there at the San Bernadino meeting) has a series of posts on the future of marriage activism in California, starting today. She really found some interesting stuff.

I was at the summit last Saturday and I can tell you that it was wonderful, terrible, painful and finally showed that everyone in the room is committed to winning back Marriage Equality.

I also have seen the polling results and can tell you that Marc Solomon and EQCA are not telling you the whole truth.

When asked about SSM, respondents said yes around 47%

When a provision was added to protect religious groups from being forced to perform SSM? That number rose to 50% for 2010. That poll was done in May, before the SC deicision!

So, before all the canvassing and conversations; before the phone calls and ads; and based on the last gubernatorial election turnout (which was not a strong one for the liberals) – we’re already at 50% if we include that exemption in the measure!

Not to mention, and this is important to me as a member of the straight community, SSM is the current hot topic around the country. As a Californian, I see other states legalize SSM and I wonder how CA got so far behind the times. We like to be trend setters, you know.

And, finally, the coalition of the willing (which includes prominent people of color) has ballot language that they are already vetting within the LGBT community. They have campaign strategy and messaging that they are working on. They are prepared to go forward.

So what if a major donor from last time doesn’t sign on? Big money didn’t get the job done in 2008. Obama’s campaign started with grassroots donors and grassroots sweat.

I was converted to supporting SSM just last year through a quiet conversation – there are many more straight moderates out there who you can reach.
Together we can.