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Rise and shine, decline to sign

Recently, I commented on the wall of a Facebook event for the San Diego rally launching Prop 8, Part II (a.k.a. “Restore Marriage in 2010”). My comment warned would-be supporters that another gay marriage vote could also hinder other progressive causes. Not surprisingly, my comment, along with the comments from others sharing the same concern, was deleted almost immediately.

The problem with our movement is that we don’t approach securing and protecting our rights holistically. Too many LGBT advocates are caught up in single-issue politics. They cherry pick their causes, usually picking the issue that impacts them directly or the one that most angers them and then they view it as the only important LGBT issue. And it’s going to kill us.

The gay marriage re-activists are the worst perpetrators. Obsessive about “winning” marriage in the face of zero evidence for potential success, they blatantly ignore the broader political landscape. They remind me of Sarah Palin with her cavalier, “Who cares what you think” attitude. In defiant refusal to acknowledge their 0-31 losing record, marriage re-activists are relentless in the pursuit of losing.

Unfortunately, gay marriage will almost certainly be back on the ballot in 2010 because the re-activists will secure enough signatures this spring and summer. So what’s going to happen? Expect a Prop 8 repeat; except this time, much worse.

Jo Hoenninger and the Restore Equality 2010 re-activists are going to pit us against fundraising powerhouses (our enemies): the Mormons, Focus on the Family, and the local Rock Church, just to name a few, with no support from our community’s deepest pockets. The infantile notion that they can win without money (which I have addressed in this column before) is one thing; but there is something else they are failing to think about– something far more deadly to our movement.

A 2010 marriage vote will mobilize conservative voters to not only vote against gay marriage (again), but to also vote against progressive candidates. Barbara Boxer and the Democratic nominee for Governor will certainly have to address health care reform and budget crises, but will also have their campaigns muddled by the gay marriage fight. Moreover, we can’t rely on Obama to mobilize liberal and young voters. (And by the way, in case you’ve forgotten, Obama made no difference in 2008, anyway.) As a result, we will probably lose a Senate seat and the Governor’s Mansion to anti-gay Republicans.

The marriage re-activists seem unwilling to recognize the damage this will cause for other critical LGBT issues like the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell (not to mention indirect LGBT issues like health care reform). This unwillingness could potentially set the LGBT movement back another decade or more.

This is serious, but the gay marriage groups don’t care. They aren’t really concerned about the gay rights movement in its entirety. Equality California, the state’s largest LGBT civil rights organization (and one that works across the spectrum of issues that matter to us) has already said it’s better to wait; and Courage Campaign along with Lambda Legal also recently withdrew their support for a 2010 initiative. Even so, away Hoenninger and the re-activists will go, killing progress everywhere.

Wake up! It’s time to rise and shine, LGBT community. There are more civil rights issues besides marriage that need our attention. But even if marriage were the only issue (or even the most important issue, for that matter) ask yourself, “Why do we keep making the same fatal and expensive mistake of ignoring what voters from coast to coast have told us?”

Remember what Albert Einstein said, “The definition of ‘insanity’ is doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result.”

The passion is great; the anger, healthy. But controlled, contemplated, game-winning strategies are needed now more than ever. Don’t let a few blind re-activists take down the entire LGBT ship. Decline to sign the gay marriage petition.

Arlon Jay Staggs received his Doctor of Jurisprudence degree from Mississippi College School of Law in 2000. He is a professional writer, business owner, professor, and activist. Even though his opinions are usually spot-on (we'd guess about 98.6% of the time), they are not necessarily the views of SDGLN.com, the baby Jesus, or God. He can be reached at arlonjay@arlonjay.com