Thursday, June 11, 2009

Timing is Everything

Last night I went to a meeting sponsored by Spectrum, Marin County's GLBT center. Spectrum does some terrific work and Paula Pilecki, the executive director, seems to be doing a great job leading the organization.

The meeting last night was to give an update on what's happening in the marriage equality battle and to discuss what the next steps might be on the road to achieving full civil equality. As you may or may not know, lots of GLBT activists are looking to leverage the momentum created by the extension of marriage equality by courts and legislatures in Iowa, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont and New Hampshire, and get a repeal of Prop 8 on the ballot in November 2010.

While I understand the impatience (if anyone understands impatience, it's me), 2010 is just too soon. Marriage equality is a complex political issue, but at it's core, it's a generational issue. Old folks, raised in a world where closet doors were mostly hammered shut and the few gay folks who dared to sneak out were subject to criminal prosecution, don't like it. Don't see the need for it. And nothing is going to convince them otherwise. (Read here about former family friends who voted "yes" on 8.) On the other hand, people under the age of 30 or so are overwhelmingly in favor of full civil marriage equality. They don't even know why there's a question.

Unfortunately, by 2010, not enough of the intransigent old folks will have died, and not enough teenagers will enter the voting ranks.

So if we're smart, we'll wait. Until 2014, or 2016, when we can almost assuredly repeal Proposition 8.

Attorney Dale Carpenter put it better than I. Money quote:

"The problem is that losing has consequences beyond the immediate loss. Initiatives -- from gathering the needed signatures to running an effective campaign to winning -- require a huge investment of money, people, and time. Such resources are finite. The $60 million or more that will be spent in 2010 could go to other things, like state and congressional elections or fighting a possible SSM repeal (Maine? Iowa?) or amendment ban in another state. Those volunteers and organizers could be doing other productive things with their time. And losing in 2010, especially if the margin is greater than in 2008, will be deflating. It will harm morale. It will scare off legislators elsewhere. And it will be taken (incorrectly) as a sign that the tide is beginning to turn against SSM, with numerous political consequences in the short term."

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