Some early thoughts about the No on 1 defeat in Maine. (In case you haven’t heard: Same-sex marriage has once again been defeated at the ballot box. The Maine voters voted to overturn the law legalizing same-sex marriage in Maine.)
My first thought:
Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. Fuck.
This is so disappointing. I just want to curl up and cry. This was a hard-fought, well-fought campaign: well-organized, well-publicized, planned for a long time in advance. What the fuck does it take? Why do people hate and fear us so much? (I know, I know. You don’t have to answer. It’s a rhetorical question.)
My second, angrier thought:
What the fuck?
At what point do our basic civil rights not get voted on anymore? At what point does equal citizenship in this country not be determined by a popularity contest? Of course I’m in favor of democracy; but the whole idea of a Constitution is that unpopular minorities need to be protected from the tyranny of the majority; that some questions, questions of basic rights, should not be determined by majority rule. And marriage is a basic right. At what point does the question of whether some people should be second-class citizens not get determined by mob rule?
Okay. Deep breath. A couple of quick preliminary thoughts about strategy and the future.
I’m not saying we didn’t make mistakes in California. I know we did. And of course we should pay attention to those mistakes and learn from them. But if the No on 1 campaign teaches us anything, it’s that we can do just about everything right… and still lose. There are still a lot of people who fear us; there are still a lot of people who are willing to tell lies about us; and fear and lies can still win.
It could well be that Prop 8 won in California because the No on 8 campaign made mistakes. But it could also be that Prop 8 won in California because same-sex marriage has never, ever won at the ballot box in the U.S. It could be that Prop 8 won because same-sex marriage is just a really hard sell right now. I do think time is on our side… but when it comes to the ballot box, it isn’t on our side yet.
Two: I hope the people who want to put same-sex marriage back on the ballot in California in 2010 take a long, hard look at whether that’s really a good idea, and whether the timing is right.
Same-sex marriage is just really hard to win at the ballot right now. I think we need to accept that. We stand a much better chance of winning in 2012 than we do in 2010. To be blunt about it: Support for same-sex marriage skews, more than with almost any other demographic, according to age. The younger people are, the more likely they are to support it. To be brutally blunt: As more old people die, and as more young people become old enough to vote, the odds skew more and more in our favor. Also, the economy in California truly and profoundly sucks right now, and people just won’t be able to donate the kind of money to a political campaign that they did in 2008. And 2012 is a Presidential election year, when voter turnout is always higher — and high voter turnout almost always means more young voters, and almost always favors liberal candidates and causes.
Finally, I want to say this:
I am deeply and seriously touched by the response my readers gave to my calls for action on this. Many of you donated money; talked with friends and family; phone banked; blogged about the issue; spread the word in email and on social networks. Some of you even did the Volunteer Vacation thing, spending a week of your no-doubt scarce free time to work in person for this cause. Those of you who did: You are my heroes. You totally rock my world.
This is a disappointing loss. But I have confidence that we will win in the long run. And I am blown away by all of the support y’all gave to this cause. I am more grateful than I can say.