1/23/2009

Overcoming the "Ick"

IMG_3103Image by jessebucksc via FlickrPam's House Blend has a fascinating post today about the Prop 8 Campaign and advertising. She takes a long hard look at what works and what doesn't when it comes to moving straight people on the issue of gay marriage.
Closer to home, nearly three years ago the Haas, Jr. Fund, Gill Foundation, the David Bohnett Foundation, Ambassador Jim Hormel and others invested nearly $500,000 to understand what would move Californians to support marriage equality and how to address the deeply conflicting views the mushy middle holds about LGBT equality. Once again, ads featuring gay people - individuals or couples or families - just did not work. What did work were messages that pushed people to think about the issue in a new way, namely, asking them how would they feel if they were in our shoes. But again, gay and lesbian people didn't work as the messengers.
...Why did it work? Instead of asking viewers to accept a gay couple - which was simply too much too much for many people - the ad provided them a way to be empathetic that was more comfortable to them. This made the issue about who they are - fair minded, not bigoted - rather than about whether they approve of gay relationships.
My criticism of this whole "ad war" philosophy of public debates on civil rights remains simply that Civil Rights are not something that should ever, under any circumstances, and at any time be put up for a popular vote.

Perhaps instead of spending $500,000 on focus groups that 1/2 mil might have been better spent helping everyone by drawing attention to the fact that voting on the rights of others is inherently Un-American. Maybe, starting a campaign to educate people about the Federalist Papers that, sadly, rarely get taught in our high schools and even our colleges.

I maintain that this one of the best things LGBT people could do for America is to draw attention to this continuing slide into mob rule in this country. We have gone from a country where Civil Rights are God-given rights protected by our Constitution to a country where Civil Rights are a privelege bestowed by the majority in power if and when they feel like it.

If we attack this as an issue of restoring the fundamental guarantees and protections envisioned by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay (our first Supreme Court Chief Justice) rather than the narrower issue of ensuring our personal rights we will not only help ourselves but our country as well.

It's time that we began to work toward a fundamental shift in the way our government works when it comes to Civil Rights while we are simultaneously fighting for our own rights.



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