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The Equality Summit: Election in Review Panel

by: Brian Leubitz

Sat Jan 24, 2009 at 10:06:59 AM PST

I'm now sitting in a rather large ballroom type venue in the LA Convention Center.  All around me is an amazing collection of LGBT (and allies) leaders.  In some respects, no matter the forum, it has to be a positive thing just to get these people all in one room. I'm ready to play the name game or something with all these cool people.

After an inspiring invocation, the meeting actually began with a panel discussing what happened.  The panel sounded great, like it was the Obama team calling down from on high about their great victories.  The only problem, of course, is that we didn't win.  The field team discussed their goals and what actually happened.  And as somebody who did some volunteering on the campaign, I can affirmatively say there were some big ol' rose colored glasses going on here.

There was glorification of the Let California Ring program.  Don't get me wrong, it was an enormously successful education campaign, but that's where the successes ended.  When the transition to the campaign occurred, it seemed like we lost our way.  But yet, we learned of the goals  of the campaign, and their numbers.  They reached 180K voters, but volunteerism could have been so much stronger.  Their best laid plans either never came to fruition or suffered from poor execution.

I appreciated the information, but the problem is still the same.  This is a top-down lecture, with little interaction.  That is, until Mollie McKay and the Marriage Equality USA Team came on to point out what went wrong with the campaign.  Mollie went on to provide a real-world look at what happened.  What we heard for the next 15 minutes was the best summary of the failures of the campaign.  They had a great powerpoint presentation, that I hope to get a digital copy to post online soon. I don't know that I've seen an applause like that on a speech regarding Prop 8 since, well, the election.  Their main points:

* Clergy leaders were underutilized by the campaign
* Leaders of color were underutilitzed by the campaign
* No on 8 ads lacked heart and LGBT people
* Prop 8 creates dangerous situations for children and families
* No on 8 field plan lacked visibility and missed potential volunteers
* The No on 8 Campaign abandoned the Central Valley

You can also find their reports at http://marriageequality.org  

More to come.

Brian Leubitz :: The Equality Summit: Election in Review Panel
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No on 8 Volunteering (0.00 / 0)
I volunteered for the No on 8 campaign even before it had been assigned a ballot number. Despite a bad foot, I stood for four hours at the table at the S. F. Pride Celebration talking to people and collecting donations (just saying that I was a truly motivated volunteer).

One thing that really bothered me was the "training" all volunteers received before they were sent out amongst The Folks. Someone from out of state (or maybe So Cal) was there with a flip chart telling us that we had to use the "focus group tested" script and not deviate from it at all. It was obvious that the script had not been written by folks from the Bay Area and certainly not tested on a LGBT audience in San Francisco.

I did my best and tried to use the official script for the first couple of people I talked with but gave up - I simply had to relate to people on a human level, not as a tape recorder on an infinite play-back loop. In my four-hour stint, my "unapproved" methods managed to scrimp together over $500 for the campaign.

When I was contacted to volunteer for phone banking I asked if there would be a script involved and was told yes. I said no.

Too much money paid to political consultants and not enough effort made to reach out to the various groups and peoples in the state. Obviously, I was disappointed by the 'everything has to go through the LA office' mentality.

Hope we can do better next time.

YEah (0.00 / 0)
CHeck out Marriage Equality's site. they have lots and lots of similar comments from volunteers.

I think?

Great to hear about this the morning after... (0.00 / 0)
Where and when was this conference announced? I know I have a ton of e-mails, but this should have surfaced in them.

Progressive Democrats of LA strongly supported the NO on 8 side of this, and we marched in the Silverlake protest following passage of 8. We will send out blasts to our membership when anything like this is planned. Please make sure it comes to us.

As far as my take on the failed campaign, I didn't SEE any field operation in the SF Valley either. I did put up many signs myself. Others seemed to be at individual homes.

I also feel that the campaign never came to grips with the hard ball tactics epitomized by "The One" video (google it with "San Diego" to remind yourself if you can stand seeing it twice). No effective MEDIA response until Dante Atkins and his brother, David, popped the BEST ONE out on the last weekend.

Who WAS in charge of their media decisions?

There was a total lack of connection with the CIVIL RIGHTS involved...should have been used with the African-American church leaders.///

Clergy Leaders underutilized by No on 8 campaign (0.00 / 0)
"Clergy leaders were underutilized by the campaign"  Ya think!?!

I was waiting for weeks to see the NO on 8 commercial with three clergy--one Latino, one African-American, and one white--all speaking from the heart that now is the time to show compassion and fairness for all our brothers and sisters...  

Unfortunately, that commercial was never produced.  IF the LGBT leadership in the state refuses to produce and air such a commercial the next time this is on the ballot, then maybe the leadership needs to pass the baton to folks who will.  

This vital campaign is not likely to be won without active involvement--and screen time--of leaders in faith communities.  

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