I try to remember to write thank you notes for the comments people leave on this blog. Finding a well-thought-out or enthusiastic comment always makes my day. It lets me know what people are thinking, and it motivates me to keep writing.
There were some special ones this week. One woman, new to the site, wrote effusively to say;
Your blog is fascinating, educational, hilarious, mesmerizing, intellectual, entertaining, inspiring and a bit naughty all at the same time. I feel drunk now, thank you.
No, thank you. You made my day.
Another, a guy in Canada who follows me on Twitter and has been caring for his elderly father, wrote with kind words about the death of my friend, the veteran.
A regular reader, the author of many well-crafted comments, left her thoughts about the potential 2010 marriage equality push in California.
And, sometimes – in the way the best comments can – it motivated me to write more on the topic. One minute I was writing her a note of thanks, and in the next, I realized it would make an opinion post of its own:
Thank you for your thoughtful comment about the same-sex marriage push. I’m with you. I felt really disenfranchised through the last go-round – not by the idea of marriage equality, mind you – but by a campaign that appeared to be reactionary and fractured. Even at my local level, I wasn’t sure where money was going, or who was in charge.
The amount of money spent by both sides of the campaign – an estimated $73 million – is appalling, especially in light of the economy and all of the social and human services that are struggling or going unfunded. Church organizations who helped to fund Proposition 8 should be especially ashamed. When did God’s work become persecution and diverting resources away from the needy and the poor?
I think California marriage equality needs a better public relations campaign, one that starts at the grassroots level. Along with our rallies and fundraisers (which tend to attract our own and become media spectacles) we need more public speakers visiting service groups and churches.
We need to be reaching into communities up and down the state and talking about the economic impact of marriage equality to Realtors, Rotarians, and business organizations, about the need for recognized unions and families to educational and church groups. We need to talk about the potential impact of gay marriage on the state’s over-taxed adoption and foster parenting programs. We need to talk about civil rights to labor and ethnic organizations.
We need time to field questions and answers, to shake hands, and have rubber chicken lunches and punch in church halls. We need people to understand that marriage equality is about much more than government-recognized gay sex.
I love the queer craziness of our community as much as the next native California lesbian, but we have to remember that when we try to change the public mind by show up at rallies in flamboyant drag or holding kiss-ins, we’re going to lose as many votes as we gain. The same things that make great media images on the 6 o’clock news, and colorful photos on the front page of the newspapers serve to substantially increase the “ick” factor of homosexuality in communities that already aren’t voting with us. They can’t separate extremism from the core message.
Most importantly, we – the gay and lesbian community – have to remember what we’re trying to sell. We’re trying to sell the conservative heartland of the state on the idea of equal recognition of loving relationships, not on the media reduction of the “gay lifestyle”. We’re talking wedding rings, children, Pottery Barn, and “until death do us part” – not leather parties and Dinah Shore.
I personally don’t think we can get it together for a 2010 election. I think it’s going to take a couple of years to gather resources, and most importantly, focus.
We need marriage equality to win big in California, not by two percent, or five percent. We need a landslide, an outpouring of support from people who understand and sympathize. We need unimpeachable language. We need a victory that won’t have to immediately be defended in court, or at the polls, yet again.
And that’s going to take some time, because first we need people to meet us and understand.
They don’t have to love us, but they do have to understand.