In the wake of the passage of Prop 8, there have been countless comments placing the blame at the feet of homophobic black and Latino voters, and more pointedly, black voters. Even after Nate Silver at fivethirtyeight.com debunked this in post-mortem analysis, one of the lessons also learned — and this isn’t an incompatible conclusion — is that there wasn’t enough face-to-face outreach to minority communities to gain additional votes to turn out against Prop 8.
Today the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Mentoring Project released a sweeping and comprehensive independent report, The Prop 8 Report: What Our Defeat in California Can Teach Us About Winning Future Ballot Measures on Same-Sex Marriage, which analyzes 10,000 pages of data unreleased during the Prop 8 campaign and concludes that many common conceptions of why the No on 8 campaign lost the November 2008 ballot measure are factually wrong.
What were the major reasons for its passage? Study author Dave Fleischer discussed it in this video:
a swing towards Prop 8 by parents of children under 18, rather than support from racial minorities, was the decisive factor in Prop 8′s passage;
that the proposition would have passed by a margin of 400,000 additional votes, one million votes in total, were it not for voters who believed that a “no” vote was a vote against same-sex marriage;
and that the No on 8 campaign cost its side greatly in its delayed response to Yes on 8′s parent-targeted advertising.
You can read short segments of the report:
- Most of the Conventional Wisdom about the Prop 8 Campaign is Wrong
- The Top 10 Facts and Findings of the Report
- The Top 10 Recommendations of the Report
- What the No on 8 Campaign Did Not Do Well
- What the No on 8 Campaign Did Well
- The Executive Summary of the report’s fundamental conclusions (includes the above short segments)
- The full report (download PDF – 13mb, 511 pages)
In response to the report, Let California Ring, a coalition-led 501c3 public education campaign hosted by the Equality California Institute, sent the Blend this information about its current and future plans.
- We have field organizers stationed across the state. Each week they and our thousands of volunteers are doing phone banks, door-to-door canvasses and in-person outreach to build support for marriage equality and to grow our volunteer team. Our field program has had over 900,000 conversations about equality across the state in a little over a year.
- Let California Ring currently has three committees:
- LCR’s messaging committee is working with a consultant — Storefront Political Media — to craft and test the most effective messages possible to move people to support marriage equality.
- A committee that includes the Jordan Rustin Coalition and HONOR Fund will soon be conducting pilot campaigns in Latino and African-American communities. These pilot campaigns will rely largely on door-to-door canvassing in order to test messages and approaches. LCR is also working with API Equality in Los Angeles and San Francisco on research efforts.
- LCR’s family committee is launching a statewide Speakers’ Bureau through which married same-sex couples will share their stories and build support in their communities.
- We are collaborating with California Faith for Equality on messaging around faith issues. We’re also collaborating to mobilize volunteers from progressive churches, organize Catholics and make the case for marriage equality in mainstream Christian denominations.
- Along with Freedom to Marry, GLAAD and Third Way, we are working on psychographic research on the issue of teaching same-sex marriage in schools. We’re partnering with groups focused on LGBT family and youth issues, such as the Our Family Coalition, GSA Network and the Family Equality Council.
Jennifer Chrisler, Executive Director of the Family Equality Council, has an op-ed below the fold.
The Power of Parents and Prop 8
By Jennifer Chrisler
Parents are undeniably proud and protective teachers of their children, committed to making the world a better place for their kids. I know because I’m the proud mother of twin eight-year-old boys.
Based on a new report released today (www.prop8report.org), it turns out that my peers — parents raising children, specifically mothers-were a deciding factor in the loss of California’s Proposition 8 battle, the measure on the 2008 ballot that took away access to marriage equality from same-sex couples.
The extremists who mounted the campaign to steal the LGBT community’s rights and dignity hit the perfect parent buttons. Playing to every straight mother’s fears, they aired a commercial about a young girl who came home telling her mother what she learned at school: a prince can marry a prince. Our side didn’t respond quickly, or as it turns out, very effectively, and that, as they say, was the ballgame.
So how do we prevent the anti-gay forces from hitting these buttons again, as they did in Maine and have since the dawn of the anti-gay movement? What does this mean for the LGBT community going forward and how do we take this challenge on in a substantive way?
One thing I know for sure is that we need to put the power and passion of LGBT parents to work for our cause of equality. Here is the truth. Our equality – whether it’s marriage rights, parenting rights, equal rights in any arena – will only be realized when those who do not know us make connections to us, to our lives and find some common bond. We don’t have to make the connection with every person, but we have to forge it with at least 50 percent plus one of the population.
Forming these bonds just won’t happen in the heat of a campaign. They can’t be conveyed in a campaign commercial in a way that’s meaningful and long lasting. They have to be done face to face over coffee between friends and family. They have to happen more than once, more than twice, maybe three times. They have to happen over and over again until we change hearts and then minds.
LGBT parents are a completely untapped secret weapon in this work. We can talk at play dates and in playgrounds, bedtime and bath time, school proms and back to school. We’re on the ground engaged in activities that naturally bind us with other parents. And we are doing that with the very people who voted against marriage equality in 2008.
“What does this mean for getting ready for future referenda on LGBT rights?”
LGBT parents and their families should be intimately involved both in the foundation-building public education efforts and in campaign battle mode. We can engage people where they – and we – already are: basketball games, PTA meetings, play dates, and Halloween parties. The bottom line is to get parents talking to parents. Parents can instantly identify with and more likely to listen to other parents.
We can model the kinds of conversations we know straight parents need to have with their children – the way LGBT parents do all the time for the family and friends. Some of us can be more public and be part of ad campaigns and media. (LGBT parents and their children must become more visible in the media, to be sure.) But the majority of us can and would be willing to engage on some level in our daily lives, arguably as important and possibly more effectively.
The LGBT community needs to figure out what gives LGBT parents pause in engaging in our high-profile campaigns and challenge them to participate. If we put the passionate power of parents to work we will win more, including winning back the more than a half-million parents we lost during the Prop 8 campaign. Let’s get to work.
Jennifer Chrisler is the Executive Director of the Family Equality Council, which works at all levels of government to advance full social and legal equality for gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender families, one million of whom are raising two million children in the U.S. She is the proud parent of twin boys with her wife Cheryl and lives in Boston MA. For more information visit http://www.familyequality.org