What would YOU ask: A Q&A Session with some of the No on 8 Exec. Committee

February 2, 2009 in It is what it is - opinion column | Comments (18)


NOTE: In the interest of best aggregating all the input, comments on this post are now closed. The next post which will outline the bulk of the questions and themes people have proffered will be open for further discussion.
In addition – you can tune in online to the live stream of the conversation on Thursday, 2/5. Chat will be enabled for this stream so you can ask questions during the interview as well.

Regardless of the camp in which you sit, consensus pretty much confirms – the No on 8 campaign had problems … lots of them.
For starters, we lost.
Actually the “starters” lay within the snarled set of issues – call them mistakes, errors, miscommunications, snafus, misfires it doesn’t really matter – that led to the way in which this (not-such) comedy of errors played out. For the record, I fall somewhere just off center on this. I’m pissed at how things turned out. Who wouldn’t be? (Well, except for those who won, of course.) There were many points along the way where I saw plenty of things not going the right way. There were points along the way where, through conversations with others who were more deeply engaged than I, it was clear that the campaign was in trouble.
Many people – both those who continue to speak out as well as others who at this point are silent in shades of disgust – want a public accounting by the No on 8 Executive Committee on what happened – accepting responsibility, identifying mistakes … that sort of thing. There have been posts calling out the members (once they were identified), demanding apologies and clamoring for answers. The dissenting voices, whose deeply persistent murmur rose to a particularly explosive cadence during last months’ EqualitySummit, call for a public forum.
While I do not disagree that such a thing *should* happen, I’m concerned that the reality of it is slim to none and that a lot of time may be wasted in trying to make it take place. As I understand it there are “a few” members of the EC who have already flat out refused doing such a public thing – whether a live forum or a public statement. (Personally, I’d like to know who those people are so that we can remove them from the process moving forward. Anyone who cannot take accountability has no business leading … but that is an issue for another post…).
So, I’ve been trying to think of ways to at least begin to mitigate this deep anger while trying to stay productive and forward looking at the same time. Participation in Equality Summit and Courage Campaign’s Camp Courage went a long way towards that end. In the time since then, I’ve witnessed an incredible array of coalition building, team efforts underway and a wonderful sense that this community may well pull itself together in a unified effort.
But people are still upset. So what to do about that?
With that, I have taken it upon myself to attempt something this coming Thursday, February 5.
At 2:00pm Pacific this Thursday, 2/5 I am going to be sitting down with Kate Kendell, Geoff Kors and Tawal Panyacosit – three members of the No on 8 EC. It’s *possible* that one or two other EC members might attend as well, but I have confirmed these three.
The entirety of this conversation will be on a live stream and I’ll also have my various social network platforms open and fired up with the intention of giving as many people as wish to participate at least some open forum in which to talk with at least some of the EC members.
In the interest of trying to put at least a bit of structure around the questions (not to edit, but to manage what I’m hoping will be a lot of input!) I’m hoping to solicit as many questions as possible in the next 24 hours. My plan will then be to put those question up on a live poll and have people vote on those questions with the intention of asking as many of them as possible in the order that people have indicated is important to them …
My intention here is really to try and foster some sort of facilitated dialogue that can be productive. I may fail, but I feel that I must try.
One person to whom I reached out already has said that short of a complete and public (e.g. an in person Town Hall type) hearing they have no interest in helping spread the word about this Thursday’s discussion. If this is your perspective as well, I wholly appreciate and respect that.
If, however, you feel that having at least this virtual public gathering can help serve to forward the idea of gaining some more public closure (which was started at EqualitySummit), I would truly appreciate your help.
And doing so is very simple:
1) Please spread the word. Your assistance in forwarding the link to this can only mean more people have a chance to speak up.
2) Submit a comment here. The comments will close at 9:00am Pacific time on Wednesday, February 4. PLEASE MAKE SURE AND LEAVE ME A REAL EMAIL ADDRESS so that I can contact you for step 3.
3) I will aggregate the questions from here (as well as from the the EqualityCamp site and Facebook – where I’ve also posted this) and then will publish a public poll. That poll will be open from 9am pacific time on Wednesday 2/4 through 12:00pm Pacific time on Thursday, February 5.
I’ll post a note and contact everyone who’s submitted questions with a link to the live stream for Thursday and hope you’ll not only forward that link liberally but also can take the time to participate.
Will this resolve the concern and angst in the community, that would be an awfully lofty goal. If that can be accomplished, great. That pragmatic voice in my head says that this is really only a start, but in taking a step, hopefully we can all begin to truly move forward.


18 responses to “What would YOU ask: A Q&A Session with some of the No on 8 Exec. Committee”

  1. I applaud your efforts to move this dialogue forward Cathy. Many of us get our feet so heavily rooted into the ground that we can sometimes lose sight of alternate paths to take.
    You have my support in whatever you need, and I will help spread the word about Thursday’s event.

  2. Jennifer says:

    The No On 8 campaign made a deliberate and public decision to ignore the Central Valley. Taking David Binder’s recent report at face value, and understanding that demographics of Valley voters closely resemble the moveable 6-7% of the electorate. What plans do you have to reach out to the Central Valley LGBT community?

  3. Jennifer says:

    Many activists wrongly attacked the African-American community in the wake of Prop 8’s passage. Those attacks brought some long seated resentments between LGBT people of color and white LGBT people, issues that obviously need to be addressed, to the surface.
    However, I am concerned that the guilt regarding the initial reactions attacking people of color is going to translate into a campaign strategy that continues to ignore the geographic majority of the state — the Central Valley. The Prop 8 campaign was run on the premise that if the Coastal counties could be carried, the rest of the state could be ignored. Is the new campaign going to be to focus on communities of color in the Coastal counties…so that the rest of the state can continue to be ignored.

  4. Jennifer says:

    What plans have you for paid staff and an office of operations in the Central Valley?
    What plans have you for including members of the Valley on your Executive Committees and boards?
    What steps have you taken to diversify the people who make decisions for your organizations, beyond ensuring that all ethnicities and sexual identities are represented?

  5. Catalina says:

    I have so many thoughts about this…like, short of a public summit, I do hope they are open to at least an evaluation of what went wrong other than �the latino and African American vote.�
    I would like to know why the gamble was made on �there are more of us than them�, which is my understanding of what the strategy was. You need to pick a strategy, and that�s cool. And one makes the wrong call sometimes. But I would like to better understand what data they used, knowing that Obama was going to be on the ticket and how this would affect turnout.
    Also, I feel like there was absolutely NO reach out to straight women, Latinas, or anyone else who could have helped bridge the �them� divide. Calls were made only to perceived “friendlies” and I understand having to focus, but there was no reason surrogates couldn’t be sent to churches, CBOs and other places to at least help frame the issue and start a discussion at home.
    I am probably missing lots of nuances and have loads of misinformation, but that was my impression/experience.
    You are awesome for doing this. Thank you.

  6. Jay Matthew says:

    The No On 8 campaign made a deliberate and public decision to ignore the Central Valley. Taking David Binder’s recent report at face value, and understanding that demographics of Valley voters closely resemble the movable 6-7% of the electorate. What plans do you have to reach out to the Central Valley LGBT community?
    I agree with this question, and i would really like to hear this asked. Personally, i know a few thousand people who would like this asked. Is this going to be saved so we can watch it later?

  7. Cathy Brooks says:

    Thanks all for the great comments so far! The interview on Thursday will be streamed live on-line … probably using Qik or Flixwagon. I’ll embed the entire thing on this blog and at http://equalitycamp.com.
    Keep your eyes here for the information on where to go on the Web on Thursday for the chat!

  8. Jennifer says:

    While we as a community seem to be making some gains in the courts, our electoral efforts of late have been almost universally disappointing.
    There is a huge gap between how people SF, LA, and NY regard LGBT issues and how the rest of the country thinks and votes on these issues. How long can groups like EQCA, MEUSA, NCLR, & HRC be relevant and effective messengers on LGBT issues without putting down roots in places like….oh, I don’t know — Fresno — whose residents are far more representative of national attitudes on these issues, than the communities your groups are insulated by?

  9. Jennifer says:

    The Binder report says that voters that are influenced by discussions with LGBT people were more likely to vote no on 8, whereas voters influenced by religion were more likely to vote yes. It seems to me that talking to people of faith, in the language of faith, is something we need to do as a major component of any future campaign.
    Kate gave an interview at the Equality Summit where she mentioned that people of faith need to understand that there is not a unanimity of viewpoints amongst people of faith as it pertains to same-sex marriage.
    What plans does EQCA have to work with groups like the California Council of Churches, who have developed a curriculum for discussing same-sex marriage from the faith perspective?

  10. Jennifer says:

    If the Supreme Court fails to overturn Prop 8 and Yes! On Equality succeeds in getting marriage equality back on the ballot in 2010, we’re going to be running a campaign during a midterm election, a cycle that is far more likely to attract older, whiter, conservative voters, than younger ones.
    What do you think the priorities of such a campaign should be? Focusing energy and resources on trying to draw out younger voters, or tailoring a message that chips away at the stranglehold that some religious communities have on their members and hoping that some of that message trickles down to youth and other democratic minorities?

  11. Jennifer says:

    The Binder report suggests that gay and lesbian people and families are not effective messengers for marriage equality, at least on t.v. — which is where most people get their messaging.
    One of the major criticisms of the No On 8 campaign was the lack of LGBT family presence.
    Assuming we take the Binder report at face value and cede that we are not our best spokespeople — has there been any consideration to reaching out to a handful of straight allies/clergy to serve as spokespeople in future campaigns and PSA’s in an offensive/preemptive ad campaign, so that we can frame the issue and debate instead of being so reactionary?

  12. Jason says:

    Why were calls for ANY money or ANY staff to be sent to Fresno (or anywhere in the central valley for that matter) completely unanswered. We were told we should drive up to San Francisco or down to Los Angeles to help out with the “offical” campaign. Why were our super volunteers offered paid work in San Francisco and taken away from our area.
    We were bombarded with emails to send money to the campaign, but why was no support coming back to us?
    In the interest in moving past this, will the leadership here today agree that this will never happen again? Apologies were made for many mistakes, but never for this one. We’d like to move past it, but even after election day, Lorri Jean from the campaign stated that “Focusing on the areas with the most votes” was done and was done “rightfully so”. (Quote taken at 42:42 minutes in the Prop 8 Town Hall audio (http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=4114665319972237386 ).

  13. Mariva says:

    Three questions:
    1. Many people with political organizing and campaign experience tried to help with the No on 8 campaign on an organizational and strategic level, and yet there was no avenue for them to have a dialog with you. Why didn’t you take feedback and suggestions from the LGBT and/or political organizing community? Why did you rely solely on the “wisdom” of focus groups, which proved to be deeply flawed?
    2. Why wasn’t there an immediate effort to launch a competing initiative, one with a similar description to Prop. 8 (e.g., “Protect Marriage”) but with the exact opposite language therein? This worked very effectively with Prop. 99 against Prop. 98 (the so-called “eminent domain”/repeal rent control initiative). This tactic — one among many — was an obvious tenet of California Initiative Strategy 101, but no one seemed to think of it. Why didn’t the No on 8 campaign work with experts with this type of ballot initiative experience and savvy?
    3. On November 4, 2008, there was a No on 8 campaign visibility effort, but absolutely no GOTV effort. GOTV is one of the most important parts of a campaign — and it should be taken care of *before* committing any volunteers to campaign visibility. The turnout in San Francisco was appallingly low. Why didn’t the No on 8 campaign have volunteers dragging voters out of their homes to get them to the polls within 96 hours of Election Day?

  14. I just want to say: thanks to everyone working for equality for LGBTs. I don’t have any questions, but just wanted to offer warm fuzzy support.
    I’d also like to point out my husband’s article that points out that there are even apparent straight couples affected by prop 8, and not to ignore them:
    Right now, they’re probably very in the closet, and if they know, they’re probably very hurt.

  15. Heather says:

    Our community didn’t reach out very well to religious institutions and ethnicities among others, nor did we refute in any way many flat-out lies. What sorts of things can we do besides a vague “talk to people” to try and change this? ( Eg: make materials about this to hand out for people to read, go door to door in our neighborhoods and talk with everyone, explain why allowing gay marriage doesn’t infringe on rights, use science studies to show that being gay is not a “lifestyle choice”, etc)

  16. Sonnie says:

    Looking backwards, I am one of the ones who was angry and frustrated with the campaign. The deliberate decision to exclude 18,000 real live same-sex couples who legally and joyfully married during the available window was hurtful. I believe there should have been a parade of these people, their friends and family members. It was no less than internalized homophobia guised as “political strategy” to take this action. We cannot live in fear. We must demonstrate that our lives are all about love.
    One thing I also must say: I attended the Equality Summit, starting the day angry; but as things continued, even though my anger continued, I have to give credit to the members of the No on 8 Executive Committee for their willingness to sit in front of a large group of frustrated and furious people in the way they did. We need to move forward.
    I won’t be able to follow the live stream, since I’ll be on a plane, but I’ll check it all out later. Thanks for your efforts.

  17. TRMite says:

    What was with not being trained to talk to actual people when going door-to-door? was this because I’m in the Central Valley where there were no resources (i.e. no paid staff who might do training on how to do a face-to-face conversation) or did we really people doing the work of a postage stamp everywhere?
    What research was done to indicate not showing the face of real gay people in a commercial was going I be what “wins”?
    What research was done to indicate where money/resources should be spent?
    What will be done differently? What are the mistakes that won’t be repeated?
    Do you have any fucking idea how it feels to live in a town where their are signs opposing your marriage being handed out every Sunday, and then to have friends who want to show support for your side (so much so that they’ll pay the $10) to the not even be able to find the one god damn office that has signs?

  18. jerekeys says:

    With so much community focus on the shortcomings of the campaign, are there any decisions that you continue to stand behind even if they are unpopular with LGBT people? What things were absolutely done right and should be done again in future elections?