Before WhoSigned.org came on the scene, the public conversation around Referendum 71 was one of positive consideration of our families. WhoSigned.org has disastrously changed the focus to a negative one about fringe tactics.
Since the debut of WhoSigned.org last week, I have identified over 45 news stories, editorials, letters to the editor and blog diaries about Ref 71. Not one of them focused on our families and the importance of protecting the Domestic Partnership Expansion Law of 2009, as they had done previously. Only one focused on the dubious activities of the Ref 71 proponents, which we know to be legion. WhoSigned.org has taken all attention from our two greatest assets: our loving families and a morally bankrupt Radical-Right fringe trying to strip us of equality under the law.
Until WhoSigned.org came on the scene, there was only one fringe element in the debate: the Ref 71 proponents. Rightly or wrongly, much of the public brands all LGBT people with the actions of the one or two who say the most controversial things. So now, in the public’s mind, there are two fringe elements in the Ref 71 debate: the Ref 71 proponents AND ALL OF US.
It is unfair that the public lumps us all together like this, but it is a reality of our oppression which must be accounted for in our collective strategies. Radical-Right Christians work openly to enshrine bigotry into our laws, and the average Christian (unless they be LGBT) remains untarnished by association. We don’t have that luxury. Wouldn’t it be nice to go back to the glory days where only Gary ‘n Larry looked stupid? Let’s hand back the Fringe Queen crown to its rightful owners, Gary Randall and Larry Stickney.
Initially I saw real potential in WhoSigned.org to the extent that it could help us detect petition fraud. However, because its backers have declared that unwelcome, uncomfortable conversations with the Radical-Right fringe (most petition signers) is the main reason for the organization, the public will never see it as anything more than an intimidation tactic. We will not win the Referendum 71 battle or future struggles by locking horns with the Radical-Right fringe. We will win by continuing our positive conversations with the movable middle about why they should protect our families. WhoSigned.org is scaring away the movable middle. We can’t resume the positive conversation until WhoSigned.org steps aside.
Let’s return to the positive conversation that Washington Families Standing Together started with their Decline to Sign campaign.