Saturday, November 8, 2008

Protest Against James Dobson and Comments on Prop 8

I went to the rally in downtown Chicago against James Dobson today, November 8, 2008. Dobson is an Evangelical radio preacher who funneled lots of money into the campaign in support of proposition 8 in California, which when it passed on the ballot, outlawed homosexual marriages. Dobson was being inducted into the radio hall of fame and the Gay Liberation Network organized a protest against him. The rally had about 500 people and was very spirited despite the cold. Check out GLN's website and the GLN's YouTube Channel.

Several people went into the reception and started to hand out these "Certificates of Bigotry"
to those honoring James Dobson. One of the people doing this was arrested.

Andy Thayer speaks at the end of the rally

It was very distressing to me to hear that prop 8 passed, that one of the most liberal state in the country could not defeat an anti-gay measure like this is sad. On one hand it shows that the ascendancy of Obama isn't a guarantee that progressive change is on the agenda. Obama has spoken against gay marriage, stating that “I believe that marriage is the union between a man and a woman... for me as a Christian, it's also a sacred union.” Obama has supported civil unions for gay couples, but not marriage. To his credit, Obama did speak out against prop 8, calling it “Divisive and Discriminatory.” However we have to wonder how much political capital Obama will spend on gay rights if not even California can keep gay marriage.

One of the really messed up things was the commercials that the pro-prop 8 people used.
What's wrong with a girl thinking that she could marry a woman one day? Why shouldn't children grow up with an appreciation for the options they will be able to make?

The LGBTQA movement can look to this defeat as an opportunity to review its strategy, tactics and goals. A few of my suggestions for thought and debate:

1.)One of the refrains of the pro-gay marriage crowd is that it doesn't affect heterosexual marriages. Lets face it though, gay marriage will be one of many changes in marriage law, and that is a good thing. Sixty years ago interracial marriages were banned in most of the country, often times using bible quotes to justify it. Legalizing interracial marriages played a big role in the changing face of America. Another big changes has been the creation of no-fault divorces. To be able to get a divorce without having to prove that your spouse broke the marriage contract, practically takes marriage outside of property law. No-fault divorces means that marriages are about relationships and not contracts. Perhaps the biggest change in the understanding of marriage came through the separation of church and state. You can get married at the county clerks office, merge your bank accounts, etc, without having to deal with a priest. Gay marriage would continue this trend and would fundamentally redefine the way people look at relationships, that is a good thing. I want to emphasize this point to the pro-Queer movement which thinks that gay marriage is part of assimilating into mainstream hetero-capitalist society. I see gay marriage as one of the things which will undermine and chip away at hetero-capitalist society, and that is a good thing.

2.)We should continue with the theme of separation of church and state. While I support the fight for recognition of gay marriage, part of me wonders what right does the government have getting in the marriage business for straight or gay couples. Obama and Biden have been playing this game where they say they are in support of governmental civil unions for homosexual couples, that have the same rights as marriage but without the religious title of 'marriage'. But we need to tell the Democrats that you can't have it both ways. It has to be equal rights for all. Marriage for all, or civil unions for all. Which means either both homosexual and heterosexual couples get marriage, or all couples, gay or straight, should have governmental civil unions, and if they are religious they can get married at their local place of worship. In the second case, this wouldn't end discrimination in private places of worship, but it would be a step in the right direction.

3.)As far as organizing goes, the gay rights movement has put most of its eggs in one basket- the courts. While I support all victories for LGBTQ rights, whether they come from the courts or not, this reliance on the courts has created the impression that homosexuals are unable to convince people to vote for their position in a democratic way. They have put more faith in the law than in the people. Homosexuals look like a sibling who goes running to their parent to protect them, instead of fighting on their own. More importantly this reliance on the courts has hurt the movements grassroots ground game. The LGBTQ movement has been so focused on proving that it already has rights under the federal and state constitutions, that it hasn't been working on convincing the rest of the country that they deserve those rights. They shouldn't have to, but as long as the majority of states like California are willing to vote gay rights away, the LGBTQ movement has to convince people they deserve the things they want. What if instead of going to the courts to overturn prop 8, the LGBTQ movement worked to get a proposition on the ballot to legalize gay marriage?


  1. I don't even think homosexuality is a choice - you either are or you aren't. I think it's pretty hypocritical that people who understand discrimination would vote to discriminate. It confuses me, though I understand that religion has something to do with it... which is precisely why I am anti-religion.

  2. Matt! I have never left a 'blog comment' before and it looks rather interesting! I am not sure of what to write to be honest? Well, best wishes with those footnotes for the moment! Let's hope I can take a bit of inspiration from you and make some progress with my writing this week-end.
    p.s. I watched the video in support of Proposition Eight and it was so sad... that girl was so sweet and then her mother had to bring bloody heterosexism into the picture! Haha I did always love princesses as a kid! Of course one could further ask about ways of including polyamourous folks, transgender people, and other 'others' in current U.S. legal systems, if there need be such a 'system' at all.

  3. Thanks for the comments!

    to sayitain'tso: the question of choice and homosexuality is going to be one of my future blog posts, so stay tuned for that.

    Megan-I have always thought of gay marriage as a step towards a more free floating approach towards relationships.

    I haven't done any real research and so I don't know how to approach some of these other kinds of relationships and sexualities in terms of marriage, legal structures, etc. I'm open to ideas on it though.


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