While the jubilation for most of the country brought about by the unifying victory of Barack Obama continues to provide balm for past American racism the pain of the election night, California gay bashing seems to not be soothed. The Mormon Church raised millions of dollars and lied to Californians (I guess it isn't a sin to lie) in an attempt to convince them that the continued stabilization of gay and lesbian families was going to hurt marriage and children. They were successful.
But the Mormon Church did not win the ban on family rights as much as the No on 8 campaign and Equality California lost it. Weeks ago, it became clear that the No on Proposition 8 campaign had made a conscious decision not to conduct outreach to Latino and African American communities. Latinos ended up voting it down by a only a slight margin and African Americans voted for the ban overwhelmingly. The margin of victory for reestablishing family rights for gays and lesbians lies in these communities. The old fashioned top down campaigns waged by Equality California and No on 8 somehow missed the news that you cant win statewide in the Golden State by ignoring Latinos and African Americans and hoping that they just won't show up at the polls. Combined, Latinos and African Americans are about 24% of the vote in California. If a serious campaign had been waged in these communities, victory could have been assured by "moving the dial" by just a few percentage points in each.
What is odd about the loss of family rights for California's gay and lesbians is that the losing old school campaign was built while the rules of campaigning where being demonstrably rewritten by the Obama campaign.
The Obama campaign's success was built upon not ceding territory to old myths on Latinos, African Americans, and young voters. The myth that Latinos would never vote for an African American was debunked by the Obama campaign, the idea of low voter turnout among African Americans and young people was also debunked. But in addition to ignoring basic myths on minority voting behavior, the Obama campaign knew that it had to still work hard to get the electoral results they wanted. They waged a campaign to win the votes and turnout model they needed.
To add insult to the Proposition 8 injury, minority communities are now being blamed for not responding to a campaign that never existed for most Latinos and African Americans until the last 10 days of the election cycle. We all need to give credit to at least one consistent effort by "Honor PAC", a gay and lesbian Latino PAC, to educate Latino voters against the ban. However, Honor PAC was severely under-funded. History could have been written differently and much pain avoided if Honor PAC was given the resources it needed.
Should a repeal of Proposition 8 be placed on the ballot in June, Latinos and African American organizers would be well advised to completely by-pass the top down pre-technology dinosaurs that ignore basic demographic information and wage a well funded small donor effort to correct this huge injustice that was brought to California by outside religious intolerance. If we learned anything over the last two years it is "Si Se Puede".
Mario Solis-Marich is a progressive talk show host who can be heard on AM 760 in Denver and AM 1150 in El Paso, Las Cruces, and Los Angeles. Mario can be streamed at www.GoToMario.com
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