The gay agenda: Legalizing prostitution?

I'm sending the following to both CNN's contact page, and GLAAD. We'll see if either of them acts on it.
This Tuesday night, Larry King had four guests on his show to debate gay marriage and Prop 8. For the most part, the debate was fairly civil and fair, but at one point, Bishop Harry Jackson claimed that "on the gay and lesbian agenda, right now, is a desire to legalize prostitution" (see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WT6g5w1qNrw#t=50s ). While I don't expect everyone to fully understand or agree with the "gay and lesbian agenda" as he put it, I think it's quite obviously and provably false that any gay rights activists anywhere are working to legalize prostitution.

I think that was a moment in which Larry King should have injected a little bit of fact-based questioning into the discussion: "Hang on a second -- where did you hear that? Stephanie, you're gay. Is that on your agenda?" Since he didn't do that, it would be nice for him to make a statement on his show, explaining that he did some research and (as far as he can tell) there is no such item on the gay agenda, while offering to Bishop Jackson the opportunity to come back on the show and explain where he got his facts from, or what he meant.
By the way, if you're curious what the actual gay agenda is, I laid it out on this very blog a couple of years ago.


political quotes of the day

At a Ramadan ceremony at the White House yesterday, President Obama spoke out in favor of allowing Muslims to build a community center and mosque, close to the site of the World Trade Center towers. He defended their right to build a place of worship by referring to an obscure legal document called the "First Amendment to the Constitution":
But, he continued: “This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are.”
I wish the phrase "But, he continued, 'This is America'" appeared in every article about Obama, or for that matter, any article about politics. Kinda like this. My other favorite quote from this article is:
In New York, Rick A. Lazio, a Republican candidate for governor and a former member of the House of Representatives [said,] “With over 100 mosques in New York City, this is not an issue of religion, but one of safety and security,” he said.
Anyone know what that means? I'm trying really really hard to figure out why a mosque a few blocks from Ground Zero would be a safety and security concern, whereas another mosque, a little further away, would not be. Even if we accept the idea that all Muslims are terrorists, which obviously is not true, I still don't get it. Is he afraid that someone is going to attack the same site again, and he thinks that the Muslims who worship elsewhere in Manhattan, (or elsewhere in the country, or the world), don't have access to, you know, transportation? The only reasonable explanation I can think of, is that this man truly doesn't hear himself when he speaks. He says words, but he doesn't hear himself saying them. Any other ideas?

I'm so excited to see how crazy this country will get during the election season this year. We're off to a great start.


The "just to be safe" argument. And then: The Ask.

I've been watching the marriagetrial.com reading of the Proposition 8 ruling, while also sort of reading along in the official pdf. If you're too lazy to read all 136 pages (although it's double spaced and a fair amount of it is just citations, so it's really more like 60) there are some great summaries at the Bilerico Project and Blogging LA (thanks to Heather for that second link).

Anyway, I was tweeting a couple of my favorite quotes from the decision, and someone responded on Twitter: "Fuck the other half of CA, and dumb bigots." Of course I understand the frustration behind this statement, but I want to be sure to make one thing very clear.

The seven million people who voted for Proposition 8 are not the enemy in this fight. I know this may be hard to believe, but it's true. Watch this ad, even if you've seen it before:

This is the kind of message that voters saw over and over and over again in the six weeks leading up to the 2008 election. It was two full weeks before the No on 8 campaign came up with any response to the message that allowing gay marriage meant the unthinkable would happen -- kids would be taught the shocking truth that gay people exist and sometimes they fall in love and want to get married. I know. Shocking. (Waiting this long was the single biggest mistake made by the No on 8 campaign, according to The Prop 8 Report, something I've been meaning to blog about since it was released last week, about a day before the trial decision came out. Worst timing ever.)

So for two weeks, many people were faced with the following set of facts, or perceived facts:
  1. If I vote no on Prop 8, my children might be taught something I don't want them to know, and at a very young age!
  2. This is backed up by a very official person with a law degree who is much smarter than I am, as well as by actual facts.
  3. I don't know of any negative consequences if I vote yes on Prop 8.
There is only one rational conclusion that can be drawn from these three facts, or even from just #1 and #3: Vote yes on Prop 8! Even if you think the threat to children is unlikely or insignificant, there's no downside to voting yes. It's a win-win. Many of the voters I talk to as a volunteer with Vote For Equality (more on this in a moment) tell me that they're not sure how they feel about gay marriage, or they have no strong feelings one way or the other. Yes, I'm sure many of them are against gay marriage, and just don't want to say so to my face. But I believe that a significant number of them are truly undecided or indifferent. And yet, of the 13.7 million Californians who voted that day, less than two and a half percent were unable to decide, and didn't cast a vote one way or the other on Prop 8. If you don't see the harm in voting yes, why would you ever vote no, just to be safe, just in case those scary ads about harming children are true?

I bring this up for two reasons, First of all, as I said, we need to remember that the 7 million "yes" voters are not the enemy in this fight. Call me naive, but I think the majority of them aren't actually that offended by the idea of a couple of guys making a promise to each other, eating some cake, drinking some wine, signing a piece of paper, and one of them getting to use the other's health insurance. They were just misled and tricked into changing the definition of marriage. It's not their fault. Really.

Secondly, we can convince people that "fact" #3 is not true, because, of course, it's not. Yes, we can rebut the other two facts as well, but if we can show people what marriage means to actual real-life gay and lesbian Californians and their families, then we can win next time. This is one of the central arguments made by the plaintiffs in the prop 8 trial: By denying marriage to a couple, you are sending them a clear message that their relationship is inferior to other people's relationships.

That is what I've been doing with Vote For Equality for the last few months: Having open, honest conversations with voters, both on the phone, and at their front door, explaining to them why I believe we ought to extend marriage benefits--not the separate but equal classification of "domestic partners", but marriage--to all committed long-term relationships. More importantly, Vote For Equality has devoted itself to something we almost never did during the No on 8 campaign: listening to the voters and finding out what their concerns are. Check it out!

We won't always change someone's mind, like Jay did in this video, but with every conversation we have, we'll find out more about that person -- their thoughts about this issue, any ideas they have that are factually incorrect, and any questions they have about same-sex marriage, that we might be able to answer for them. It's a lot of fun, and I believe that if we vote on this again, in California or elsewhere, and we win, it will be largely because of this kind of work. If you volunteered with the No on 8 campaign, and you were frustrated with how ineffective our tactics were, I promise you this is different. We've learned from our mistakes, and we're continuing to improve our approach.

(And if you were at any of the No on 8 actions, you know what's next -- The Ask)

One of the next major events coming up is a phonebank on August 24, where we have phone conversations much like the in-person conversation in that video you just watched. It also happens to be the day before my birthday, and seeing all of you, my huge following of blog readers (okay, so there are like four of you, but still), at the phonebank, would be a pretty awesome birthday present. I know it might seem scary to just call up a stranger and ask them how they feel about gay marriage, but once you get into it, you'd be surprised how much people are willing to talk about it.

If you have any friends or family who might someday want to marry a person of the same sex, please come to this phonebank, for them. I'm sure you know at least one, and if not, then come to this phonebank for me -- for my birthday. There might even be free food! And no using band as an excuse, TMB people. If you leave right after practice, you'll get there on time, even with traffic.

The details:
Vote For Equality voter persuasion phonebank
August 24th, 6:30pm-9:30pm
1125 N. McCadden Place,
Los Angeles, CA 90038

I want to conclude this blog post with a quote from an unlikely source. As they are a project of NOM, you can imagine I don't agree with much of what comes from the Ruth Institute, but they're 100% right about one thing, and it nicely sums up why the work Vote For Equality is doing is so important, and why we can't just sit around waiting for court decisions:
As with other issues, what will decide the “same-sex marriage” controversy in the long run are the attitudes that prevail in society at large, not this or that judicial decision, ballot measure, or piece of legislation.
P.S. I really think if you give it a chance, you'll enjoy this phonebank, or find other VFE actions that suit you better. But if you really don't want to do this, or can't make it on that day, or find that you have more spare money than spare time (hey, it's possible!), then you can also make a donation to Vote For Equality, and that would also make a huge difference. Thanks!