I can hardly believe the campaign for Proposition 8, the California Marriage Amendment, is over and that we won. I will miss the cheerful yellow signs with their happy blue family people on them.
Now that it is over, it is worthwhile to reflect on the significance of what the Protect Marriage coalition achieved. The people of California did not do anything rash or drastic here. They simply voted to enshrine the definition of natural marriage as one man and one woman in the state constitution.
What does this victory mean?
The people of California want to wrest control of the legal definition of marriage from the judiciary.
The people of California are deeply troubled by the idea of small children being taught about homosexuality in the schools without their parents’ knowledge or consent.
The people of California do not want dissenters from the gay-marriage ideology to be treated as if they were racists.
The people of California want religious groups to be free to operate within their own value systems. People don’t want to unleash discrimination suits and other forms of legal harassment against religious bodies which hold that marriage is between a man and a woman.
It doesn’t mean:
Over five million Californians are bigots.
Gay couples will have their homes raided, (contra the outrageous anti-Mormon advertisement.)
Gay couples will lose their domestic partnership benefits.
Gays are second-class citizens.
Why does the victory of Proposition 8 matter?
A coalition of ordinary people pushed back against the gay lobby and its allies. Those allies include all the major newspapers, Hollywood, the judiciary, the governor, the attorney general, and academia. These allies did not hesitate to abuse their power. For instance, Attorney General Jerry Brown rewrote the title of the proposition in a way that cost us 5 to 10 percentage points in the polls.
But Proposition 8 proponents got more than it bargained for: ordinary citizens are sick of being pushed around. They aren’t going to take it any more.
The coalition of religious groups who worked for Prop 8 will not dissolve the day after tomorrow. Passing Proposition 8 required an unprecedented level of interfaith cooperation. Evangelicals, Catholics, Mormons, and Jews all worked together. I could feel mistrust melting away as we worked together to protect natural marriage. The solidarity we created will continue long after this particular election.
Interracial solidarity was strong on the marriage issue. Blacks and Hispanics voted overwhelmingly for Prop 8. Los Angeles County voted for Prop 8. That wasn’t Hollywood and Beverly Hills talking: it was the urban minority communities. They don’t seem to feel the need to be politically correct. Pro-marriage advocates of all races met and worked together, and will continue to do so.
The public is much more aware of the promotion of homosexuality in the schools. People will be monitoring the content of school curriculum in a way they had not done before. And since they now have the experience of being successful cooperating with others and promoting their views in the public square, they are much less likely to back down. If the gay lobby could have contained itself and lain low for a little longer, they might have been able to slip a lot of things past the public. Those days are over.
The public was disgusted by the grotesque bullying tactics of the No on 8 coalition. Although the anti-Mormon ad was produced by an “independent” group, no one from the official campaign condemned the ad. The media gave very little attention to the vandalism against Yes, but publicized the few isolated incidents of vandalism against No. But this media spin can’t work when the incidents are happening in your own neighborhood, under your own noses, to people you know. The No campaign should have distanced itself from people who were keying cars, egging houses and spray painting graffiti on churches. But it didn’t.
In short, the success of Proposition 8 is the success of a broad-based coalition of citizen activists who cared passionately about the meaning and future of marriage. The Protect Marriage campaign had literally a hundred thousand volunteers and over 70,000 donors. What Proposition 13 meant to the cause of citizen-generated tax reduction measures, Proposition 8 may mean to the cause of defending and defining marriage.
The judges who created same-sex marriage awakened a sleeping giant. And we won’t be going back to sleep any time soon.
– Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D. is the founder and president of the Ruth Institute.