Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Proposition 8 - Bigotry and Evil Triumphant

Hi, Frank --

I'm sorry to hear about the victory of the proposition 8 forces. Bigotry and evil triumph again, and on the same night when Americaelects its first black president. There's an irony in that - an irony lost on too many.

I read a statement from George Takei this afternoon. He said that hetook the result "philosophically." I don't get that. I don'tunderstand why gay people aren't marching in the streets tonight in protest. I know I'm in Missouri, not California, but I still have a stake in this decision.

Let others celebrate the "tolerance" that Barack Obama supposedly represents. I don't feel that tolerance. I watch the anti-gay forces scoring triumphs in California, Arizona, Florida and Arkansas, watch important rights being stripped from gay people, and what I feel is anger.

So, why am I saying this to you? I guess because I'm thinking of MILK, and you were there when the gay community took the the streets. I don't understand how we've become so complacent. I remember standing in the Stonewall Inn in New York for the first time a few years ago. There's a plaque on the wall commemorating the night the Stonewall riots began. I felt great pride reading that plaque. Supposedly, we've come a long way. But I wonder if we've forgottenhow we got here. Not by hosting cocktail parties, that's for sure.

Anyway, I love you and I'm thinking about you.



Storm Christopher said...

(More from my friend on the "Front Line of H8te)

On why people aren't marching in the streets because of losing the fight over
Proposition 8.... My own guesses, not necessarily in order of importance:

We have no real leader. There are people we elect but there is no Harvey Milk.
Sorry about that; God only made one.

There is a tendency to leave it in the hands of the courts, since it was the court
that okayed it in the first place. Will the challenges go up to the Supreme
Court? Probably. But I wouldn't hold my breath for succor from a court that has a
5-4 split with the conservatives in the ascendancy.

The community is complacent. It's obtained a measure of freedom and few of them,
are aware that the mormons and company will nibble away at them until it's back to
square one.

The community is older as a community. The youngsters have not grown up in a
community of protest, as it was in the early 70s. There is no Robert Hillsborough
who was stabbed to death 15 times while his in-the-closet assailant shouted faggot,
trying to expel the demons within himself. There is no visible police oppression.
The youngsters are busy searching for bare-backing partners and besides, they voted
for Obama, didn't they?

The opposition to Proposition 8 had little money and their ads were pitifully
amateurish; the best and most effective ones came in the last few days. Too little
and too late.

To sum up: The Community, as a whole, is complacent. It knows very little nor does
it care about gay history. None of them know anything about Harvey Milk. He died a
few years before they were born. Sad to say, but that's reality.

What will change that? I don't know. The strength of the gay community back in the
'70s lay in social oppression that was not ony visible but hit all gays; by police
oppression, by a figurehead for the opposition so you had somebody to rebel
against. By amateurism in the leadership and by general lack of funding. What
there was came about thirty days before the election and primarily from gay honchos
in Hollywood.

Well, I could go on but you get the picture. Complacency, etc., etc., etc. If the
18,000 couples who DID get married when it was legal are suddenly divorced by the
state, that would give the community something to focus on. I think that kind of
injustice might have some effect.

I understand that there are still 3 million uncounted mail-in ballots that have yet
to be coounted. I don't think it will make much difference--prop 8 was winning all
night. There will be court challenges--our best bet--but who knows....

Most seirously: We do not have a charismatic leader who is capable of outrage. (See

I kicked in a grand when I heard they were really short on funds. Best I should
have saved my money.

I may go to NYC to see the screening of :Milk" there on the 18th. Have to see if I
can get comps. Want to see the agent and find out what's going on. Gave a copy of
the book mss. to Alan Beatts of Borderlands Books who was on his way to some
convention last weekend (weekend before? Think so) and offered to read it and plug
it to editors and publishers. Haven't heard boo so I assume he didn't like it.
Have it out to two more readers for their opinions. A lot riding on it.

That's about it for the moment. Time to hit the sack. Hope everything is fine with
all of you...

Storm Christopher said...

(More in my conversation with a friend on the "Front Line of H8te")


I was wrong--there was outrage. Note NYTimes editorial I sent you. There
were marches last night--will send you the Chronicle article. And there are
challenges in the courts. Offhand, it strikes me as untenable that rights
once granted by the court could be rescinded by a simple majority vote. This
may well end up in the Supreme Court but I think the SC would hesitate to
approve overturning the ruling of the State Supreme Court by a ballot box
vote the intent of which is to deprive people of civil rights previously
granted by the State SC. That's too much of a hot potato even for them.

One of the prime directives for the courts is to disapprove the decisions of
the majority to deny the civil rights of a minority--especially once they've
been granted. Equal rights is now the mantra of the land, especially with
the election of Obama. Equality is equality and that includes--especially
includes--the right of people to marry whomever they want. The granting of
rights is predicated on the idea that they pose no harm to the majority.
And I think that this idea will spread. If not, then the very election of
Barack Obama is at risk--and I definitely can't see that happening. And you
will recall that Obama specifically mentioned "gays and straight" in Tuesday
night's acceptance speech.

As the saying goes, the time is now at hand and the Church--any church--does
not rule the land and dole out or rescind civl rights as it sees fit.

In the argot of the streets--tough shit, buddy.

your friend


Storm Christopher said...

(More letters from more friends in California)


Earlier, I sent this:

> > "We caused Californians to rethink this issue," Proposition 8
> > strategist Jeff Flint said.

They did just that. Take "rethink" literally. They didn't change any logic
within the arguments. Instead, they shifted the frames and metaphors by
which people reason. They evoked gut level instincts that many people have
about protecting children. Thinking is emotional, more than logical.

> Horrific tactical errors were made as well. No response whatsoever was
> made to the Gavin "like it or not, it's coming!!!!" commercials.

The ad to which the writer refers:

I don't know if you saw that ad but it was playing repeatedly for at least a
week before NO on 8 did anything close to counteracting it. Very serious
mistake. They decided to take the high road, not to break the frame that had
been evoked by Yes on 8. Their ad changed the debate. It was no longer about
fairness and equality. It was now about a small cabal of San Francisco
liberals and four judges forcing distasteful education on innocent children.

In other words, we got swift boated and failed to respond directly and
quickly to the lies. Should have had Gavin Newsom discrediting the liars.
He should have held a news conference and shown indignance at being taken
out of context, or filed a libel suit. Or an ad about "what kind of religion
supports lying and distorting facts in order to win political campaigns?" I
don't know what, exactly, would have worked best. Here's one creative
example. It has other deficits but it shows that there were many

The NO on 8 campaign showed no ability to adjust to the slurs from the other
side. And the other side's messages should have been re-framed as lies,
slurs, mistreatment of children, (child abuse) because that's exactly what
they were.

We learned about this during the 2004 presidential campaign. You can't wait.
And you have to discredit the people responsible for the lies. Go after the
liars. Make it about the unconscionable use of innocent children for
political gain.

They cast a spell, and we have to break it.

Another example of Yes on 8 lies:

Should have exposed the Wirthlins. They lost their Massachusetts case in
federal court and it doesn't even apply in CA. But our ads shouldn't argue
with those facts. They should, instead, discredit the liars themselves.
These people were portrayed as concerned parents. Instead they should have
been exposed as the radicals that they are. What kind of people travel
around the country using their own children as weapons in a war?

Where were the press releases about all this? Why was the media not nudged
to follow up?

The ad insinuating that Barack Obama favors Prop 8 because he "opposes gay
marriage" is another example. Lies.

In short, the other side very successfully framed the argument to be about
protecting innocent children. They evoked a natural instinct -- unconscious
-- that all parents have. The NO on 8 campaign insisted on keeping the
message about "fairness and equality" in a high minded way, when they should
have had the flexibility to shift their message, for a time, to be about the
extremists who use children to deceive and mislead. Unfortunately, this was
not about prejudice. Fears about safety, and protecting the kids trumped
high minded ideals. As long as we accepted their frame, we got slammed by
it. Since we didn't disable their Orwellian distortions, we were abused by

By the time we got to any effective messages from NO on 8, the other side's
frame -- protecting innocent children -- had already been accepted; it was
already an unconscious part of people's thinking.

I sent a lot of money, and an email suggesting that they immediately get in
contact with George Lakoff or Drew Westen. They didn't get it. Obama gets

Storm Christopher said...


Google *SF Gate *and *Mercury News *for articles on Prop 8, including a
legal rundown that echoes what I sent you before. And yes, there were
protests--some 2,000 gathered in front of city hall with signs, etc,
protesting the passage of prop 8. And let's not forget that Obama
mentioned "*gays *and straights" in his acceptance speech in Grant Park.

One line stands out in one of the articles: "The purpose of the courts is to
protect the rights of minorities against the majority." A rather large
minority--5 million Californians voted NO on prop 8....

So I was wrong. The community is not apathetic. The voice of protest, used
so brilliantly by Harvey Milk, lives!!!!!

In other words--cheer up.

your friend


Storm Christopher said...


Locally, 5,000 protesters marched from 7th street down to 17th and Market.
Signs, changing, the works. In Salt Lake City, protesters gathered in front
of the Mormon Church--mother church--there. Hey, Robin, at this stage of
the game, what more do yu want? Olbermann should stir up the troops on
Monday night as well.... -- Frank

Storm Christopher said...


So we've had marches in L.A., San Francisco, Palm Springs, Santa Cruz and
God knows where else. The biggest, I recall, was around 10,000 in SF, I
believe. There were also protesters around some of the Mormon mother
churches. The protests against the Mormons will only grow, against a
religion that
should have learned to tread quietly by now. If any major religion is
subject to accusations of being a 'cult,' it's a Mormons. right now, I
suspect they're sorry they got involved. At one time there was a strong
prejudice against the Mormons and I suspect it wouldn't be difficult to fan
the embers. If Prop 8 or a like proposition comes up against, I strongly
suspect the Mormons will keep a low profile.

I hasten to point out that there's nothing young people like better than a
cause and here's one ready made. There's not much doubt that we'll meet at
the pass--as a case before a judge or another election, this one done right
(reference to a legislature which is not about to commit itself and will let
the whole thing die). It would help if we had some dedicated, brainy people
on our side but you can't have anything.

The thought arises: Is there any kind of a gay community in Kansas City? If
so, anything like a sympathetic march in support of those brave souls in SF
and elsewhere in California? If not, why not?

Anyway, have sent you some newspaper articles that should the cockles of
your cockles. We both spoke too quickly about the lack of anger in
California.... First, we raise a glass to Obama's wiin, then it's down to
the serious business of changing minds and launching another assault on the


Storm Christopher said...

(This note from another friend, a straight 82-year old woman, a retired teacher who volunteers time as an AIDS hospice worker)

Dear Storm,

Everyhting's okay, but a big disappointment on Tuesday. I worked the polls
from 4 to closing and was disgusted that the Yes campaign was using little
kids to hand out literature -- and I swear they were closer then they should
have been to the polling place. Today after church there was a "de-briefing"
session -- very emotional, and painful to listen to the terrible stories of
mistreatment of gay people. I think in the new campaign the straights like
me who support the cause (and there are a lot in our church) should identify
themselves so the bigots can't say only deviates are for it. (They probably
will anyway!) How about "Straight Grandmothers for Gay Justice"?