Monday, May 25, 2015

How Ireland's "YES" campaign did it

They learnt from previous referenda in Ireland and from previous losses for marriage equality propositions in the United State. They orientated Yes Equality to focus on the “million in the middle”. They also mobilised the gay and lesbian community and their families and friends to intense activity.

Early decisions about tone were key to Yes Equality’s success. In late March we settled on the theme of “I’m Voting Yes, Ask Me Why” an open conversational approach designed to persuade and reassure voters.
A vindication of Harvey Milk, then.  Come out, come out!  And also they needed campaign discipline:
The key task for the Yes campaign was to avoid being provoked into public displays of anger. Instead Yes Equality sought to create a space where the public could see and hear the anguish caused by discrimination and the repression of sexual orientation.

In the atmosphere created by this tone, extraordinary things began to happen. The campaign became one of storytelling. Gay men and lesbian women told of their lives and parents spoke out publicly in support of their gay and lesbian children.

Maintaining this calm and respectful tone required rigid campaign discipline in the face of increasingly nasty messaging from the No side.
They were hugely coordinated and talked daily to keep everyone on message-- and keep disciplined.  And of course, in Catholic Ireland, the bishops were major players.
The only real surprise was the timing and extent of the Catholic church’s intervention. The bishops came in earlier and more stridently than we had originally anticipated. ....

We toyed with the idea of a head-on confrontation with the hierarchy for its failure to distinguish between civil and religious marriage. That would certainly have mobilised our base. We opted instead however to express disappointment at the tenor of the bishop’s interventions while spotlighting statements from dozens of high profile priests about why they were voting Yes. 
And let us not forget the power of the #hometovote movement and the mobilisation of young Irish.
Yes Equality’s focus for the last week was on a massive Get Out the Vote Operation implemented on a scale never previously seen in an Irish referendum. It all paid off.
 There are many lessons here. Just as the No on Prop 8 campaign became a lesson in what DOESN"T work, this one is a lesson in what does.  Progressives on both sides of the Atlantic should take note.

Saturday, May 23, 2015


The first country to legalize same sex marriages through popular vote. Results are not complete yet but it looks like a landslide!

From RTE

Friday, May 22, 2015

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Holding our breath for Ireland

The Republic of Ireland will vote on Friday whether to allow marriage equality.  

Although it is polling fantastically well, the numbers have started to slip.
Paradoxically, the high poll numbers are making Yes campaigners even more nervous. Irish voters have a history of abandoning proposed constitutional changes in the final days of the campaign. And the shadow of California’s Proposition 8 — when voters rejected marriage equality in the state in 2008 after a win seemed likely — looms large.

“Look at how Prop 8 happened — Prop 8 was a slam dunk [for LGBT rights supporters] until the result came in and it turned out it wasn’t,” said Brian Sheehan, co-director of Yes Equality, the campaign group created to get out the Yes vote. The fact that pollsters comprehensively failed to predict the outcome of last week’s general election in the United Kingdom hasn’t boosted their confidence either.
Particularly concerning is that our own marriage equality opponents including the masterminds who won Prop 8 are pouring money into this campaign. 
Supporters of a yes vote have accused opponents of a lack of transparency over finances and of accepting funding from rightwing Christian groups in the US.
And while the Roman Catholic bishops are predictably opposed to equality, not all their priests agree:
In at least a few cases, though, Irish Catholics may vote “yes” not in spite of their priests, but alongside them. StandĂșn, O’Donovan and Dolan are among a group of priests who have bucked Church leadership to voice support for the amendment. Speaking to BuzzFeed, The Rev. Tony Flannery, founder of the reform-minded Irish Association of Catholic Priests, estimated that 25 percent of the country’s clergy would vote”yes.”
Let's do this Ireland.  Vote yes!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Survey results faked

There was a  survey last year that supposedly showed that talking to a gay person changed minds about marriage.

It was published in Science, which is the top scientific journal to which all scientists aspire.

Trouble is, it was all made up. 
LaCour couldn’t come up with the raw data of his survey results. He claimed that he accidentally deleted the file, but a representative from Qualtrics — the online survey software program he used — told UCLA that there was no evidence of such a deletion. 
Then, yesterday, Vavreck asked LaCour for the contact information of the survey respondents. He didn’t have it, and apparently confessed that he hadn’t used any of the study’s grant money to conduct any of the surveys.
I hope that the UCLA graduate student responsible is dismissed from his PhD program.  This is an utter failure of academic ethics.

Gallup: support for marriage quality reaches all time high

A new poll from Gallup:

Sixty percent of Americans now support same-sex marriage, as the Supreme Court prepares to rule on its constitutionality next month. This is up from 55% last year and is the highest Gallup has found on the question since it was first asked in 1996....
 Are you listening, Chief Justice Roberts?

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Regnerus Takedown

Regnerus takedown: the infamous study by sociologist Mark Regnerus  compared children of broken homes with children in intact homes and said differences in outcome reflected the parents' orientation and not the divorce.  Nowm scholars take his data and re-analyze it. And guess what? It doesn't say what he said it did.(My emphasis)
Many people who he categorized as having been raised by a gay or lesbian parent had spent very little time with that parent or with his or her same-sex partner. Even Regnerus admitted that his data included only two people who said they had been raised for their entire childhoods by a same-sex couple. -
And some of the data were...questionable.
By eliminating suspect data — for example, a 25-year-old respondent who claimed to be 7’8” tall, 88 pounds, married 8 times and with 8 children, and another who reported having been arrested at age 1 — and correcting what they view as Regnerus’ methodological errors, Cheng and Powell found that Regnerus’ conclusions were so “fragile” that his data could just as easily show that children raised by gay and lesbian parents don’t face negative adult outcomes. 
I guess some respondents were just messin' with him.
Cheng and Powell determined that of the 236 respondents whom Regnerus had identified as having been raised by a lesbian mother or gay father, one-tenth had never even lived with the parent in question and an additional one-sixth hadn’t lived with that parent for more than one year. Still more had provided inconsistent or unreliable responses to survey questions, throwing their reliability into doubt. That means, Powell says, that over one-third of the 236 people whom Regnerus classified as having been raised by a lesbian mother or gay father “should absolutely not have ever been considered by Regnerus in this study.”

Reanalyzing Regnerus’ data after eliminating respondents who offered dubious biographical information and recategorizing people who clearly were not raised by gay parents, Cheng and Powell found only three statistically significant differences between the respondents raised by a lesbian mother and those who reported having been raised in “intact biological family” households. Only one of those differences could be considered a negative adult outcome — those respondents were more likely to have had an affair while married or cohabitating. Even that is hardly a smoking gun, says Powell: “If you study 40 different variables or outcomes…just by the law of chance, a few of them should be statistically significant.”

Cheng said that in taking on “one of the most controversial articles published in the history of social science research,” they tried to stay away from the debate about Regnerus’ ideology or the source of his funding. “What we can do is analyze the data,” he said.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

NOtorious RBG nails it

Everyone's favorite SUpreme COurt justice makes the point:
[Same-sex couples] wouldn’t be asking for this relief if the law of marriage was what it was a millennium ago. I mean, it wasn’t possible. Same-sex unions would not have opted into the pattern of marriage, which was a relationship, a dominant and a subordinate relationship. Yes, it was marriage between a man and a woman, but the man decided where the couple would be domiciled; it was her obligation to follow him.

There was a change in the institution of marriage to make it egalitarian when it wasn’t egalitarian. And same-sex unions wouldn’t — wouldn’t fit into what marriage was once.

Justice Ginsburg’s point was that, until surprisingly recently, the legal institution of marriage was defined in terms of gender roles.....So American marriage law, and the English law that it was derived from, presumed that the wife was both financially and sexual subservient to the husband. In a world where marriage is defined as a union between a dominant man and a submissive woman, each fulfilling unique gender roles, the case for marriage discrimination is clear. How can both the dominant male role and the submissive female role be carried out in a marital union if the union does not include one man and one woman? This, according to Justice Ginsburg, is why marriage was understood to exclude same-sex couples for so many centuries.

But marriage is no longer bound to antiquated gender roles. And when those gender roles are removed, the case for marriage discrimination breaks down.
Now, we wait.

Monday, April 27, 2015

It's not Gay Marriage vs Church any more (voices of faith)

Click image for more
Voices of Faith
I guess the media is finally coming around to understand that "Christian" is not a synonym for "anti-marriage equality".

Not when clear majorities of Americans generally, and of most Christian faith groups, support marriage equality.

William Eskridge writes in the NY Times:
My point is not that the Bible must be read in a gay-friendly way; it is simply that the Bible is open to honest interpretations that refuse to condemn or that even embrace such families. I am doubtful that Scripture speaks with one voice about how to define civil marriage.

....Assume that the Supreme Court interprets the 14th Amendment to mean that states can’t exclude gay couples from civil marriage. What will the faith traditions, which are adamantly opposed to same-sex marriage, do? The tolerant path I’ve suggested won’t unfold immediately, and different denominations will respond in different ways.

Some congregations will double down, not only reaffirming their understanding of traditional marriage but denouncing gay people even more fervently. The First Amendment gives them the right to react this way.

But if all 50 states issue marriage licenses on an equal basis, more same-sex couples will choose to wed. Some religious communities will take this as an opportunity to reconsider their views of those committed unions, and quietly welcome these families into their houses of worship.

With greater tolerance and acceptance of gay married couples, more religions will, slowly, modify doctrinal discourse to match social discourse — exactly the way they did for their previous disapproval of marriages between two people of different races. ...
And most importantly,
Today, some progressives harbor inaccurate stereotypes about religious people as anti-gay and intolerant. The Episcopalians, Unitarians, Presbyterians and many other faiths are falsifying those stereotypes. Just as American religion is changing, so, too, are the ranks of those who are pushing for equality.
As one Prop8 proponent conceded, we will be more American on the day all of us can marry equally. 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Nuns walk out

In Marin County CA, nuns who teach in a Catholic high school walked out, because they were offended that students were handing out flyers about GLSEN's Day of Silence. For those who don't know, this is a nationwide day of protest against bullying, where students who support LGBT rights simply say.... nothing. The nuns, however, feel that it is offensive and anti-Catholic. That is, that standing up in silence somehow is offensive to the nuns.
When some Marin Catholic High students began handing out Day of Silence-related stickers and flyers on campus Friday morning, the five nuns felt “felt compromised, offended and uncomfortable,” Sister Clare Marie, one of the teachers, later wrote in a lengthy e-mail to her students.

She said the sisters “do not support bigotry or any kind of prejudice,” but that they were compelled to act out against an event promoted by a group that “believes actively in promoting homosexuality in all classrooms, K-12.”

Her e-mail also accused the group’s members of speaking out “against Christians who do not share their views” and handing out materials that “say that any church which teaches homosexuality is sinful is an 'oppressor’ and should be opposed.”
 Okay, first of all, this is not about recruiting kids to be gay.  They are, or they aren't.  It's standing up to bullying, like the anti-gay flannel shirt bullies in the school in Pennsylvania.
The next day, a group of students walked the halls at McGuffey High raising awareness of what they unimaginatively dubbed “Anti Gay Day.” Some had “anti-gay” scrawled on their hands and a Christian cross etched on their flesh with a black marker to show how committed they were to being Jesus’ truest disciples.

Others let their freaky flannel fly on social media, where they “tagged” known and suspected LGBT students at their school with homophobic insults and Bible verses. A few GSA-affiliated students found pithy, but hateful, flyers saying “ANTI-GAY” stuck to their lockers....

.... What had a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person ever done to them except get out of the way whenever these boys strutted en masse down the hall?
 But more than that, the sisters personify something identified by Irish equality campaigner and drag queen, Panti Bliss:
So now ... gay people find ourselves in a ludicrous situation where not only are we not allowed to say publicly what we feel oppressed by, we are not even allowed to think it because our definition has been disallowed by our betters.

.... And a jumped-up queer like me should know that the word “homophobia” is no longer available to gay people. Which is a spectacular and neat Orwellian trick because now it turns out that gay people are not the victims of homophobia – homophobes are.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Same sex marriage actually a win for traditionalists

Conor Friedersdorf in the Atlantic:
Gay marriage has been successful in the courts precisely because, given both the actual behavior of married Americans and the prevailing legal logic of many decades, it was impossible to maintain the fiction that civil marriage remained an inherently procreative institution, even if sacramental marriage in some faiths remains so. It took the arrival of gay marriage to wake some traditionalists up to the fact that that religious and secular notions of what marriage is had long since parted ways. But the logic of same-sex marriage requires no leaps beyond what heterosexuals had already made. It fits within the Enlightenment model of civil marriage as a contract. For traditionalists, its logic is such that nothing new is lost....
Why? Because if civil unions/domestic partnerships had been the norm, straights would have wanted access to them too, precisely because they weren't marriage. That's what happened in France, for example.
Instead, a culturally influential minority is now included in marriage, so it remains the default way that couples join; religious people are as free as ever to marry in a fully traditional sense; and secular straights retain more traditional aspects and attitudes than they would if they'd switched over to a new paradigm of coupledom.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

The upcoming SCOTUS decision

Three lessons emerge from this brief history of same-sex marriage litigation in the United States. First, the evolution of constitutional law has more to do with changing social and political mores than with traditional sources of constitutional law such as text, original understanding, and precedent. Same-sex marriage has advanced from an absurd constitutional argument to a compelling one – at least in the mind of five Justices – because public attitudes regarding sexual orientation have been transformed over the last half-century.

To a greater extent than most people probably are aware, other landmark Court rulings on issues of social reform were similarly inconceivable only a decade or two before they happened. ... 
Second, Court decisions on issues of social reform that advance far beyond public opinion often generate potent political backlashes. Brown, Roe v. Wade, and Furman v. Georgia all had such an effect. ... 
Third, the factors that predict political backlash – which include public opinion on the underlying issue, the relative intensity of preference on the two sides of the issue, and the ease with which a particular Court ruling can be circumvented or defied – suggest that a Supreme Court ruling in favor of a constitutional right to same-sex marriage in 2015 will produce only minimal political backlash.

Polls show that fifty-five to sixty percent of Americans support same-sex marriage today—perhaps triple the percentage of twenty-five years ago. Moreover, as recently as ten years ago, opponents of same-sex marriage had much more intense feelings on the issue than did supporters. According to polls taken then, only six percent of same-sex-marriage supporters said they would be unwilling to support a political candidate with whom they disagreed on the issue, while thirty-four percent of opponents said they were willing to make same-sex marriage a voting issue. Among evangelical Christians, that number rose to fifty-five percent. That large disparity in intensity of preference between the two sides of the same-sex marriage issue no longer exists today.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Poll: Americans reject RFRA laws

From the HRC
According to MSNBC, the NBC News poll “found that 63% of Americans say business owners should be required to provide products or services to individuals who are gay or lesbian, while 37% say the business owner should be allowed to refuse if homosexuality is against their religious beliefs… Across all ages and races, Americans say a business must serve gays and lesbians no matter the owner’s religious beliefs.”

This is the second poll released this week showing strong support for LGBT Americans to be protected against discrimination. Earlier this week, a poll released by Reuters/Ipsos showed similarly showed, that voters are rejecting so-called Indiana-style “Religious Freedom Restoration Act" (RFRA) bills that allow businesses to discriminate against LGBT citizens.
So, why is one of the major parties so out of line with what Americans want, and why aren't they being called on that?

Speaking of polls, did anyone notice NOM's amicus brief to the Supreme Court? It was all about trying to argue that all the polls supporting marriage equality are somehow wrong.  But, NOM, even if you were right (and you're not) it doesn't matter.  Perhaps you missed the part about the SCOTUS not caring about public opinion, but about law....