California’s Proposition 8 was an interesting time in the gay rights movement in 2008. Activists on both sides fought relentlessly for marriage equality, spending millions on radio and TV ads. When all was said and done, we lost and homophobes won.
The ‘Yes for Prop 8’ campaign were better prepared and swift in their assaults. The ‘No on Prop 8’ campaign… Well, let’s just say they weren’t ready. In fact, their approach was too safe and ineffective. But the biggest fallout in the campaign was the failure to connect groups and organizations serving people of color.
Throughout the campaign, communities of color were left out of the conversation. It was just assumed these communities would climb on board and fight for equality. That lack of outreach became our Achilles’ heel and the rest in history.
Forward to now… In several states, we’re seeing the rise of anti-LGBT legislation in the guise of “religious liberty” and “bathroom” bills. Their attack is strong, relentless, and, at times, better organized. It’s amazing to see how effective they are at conning people whether about protecting their religious freedom or safeguarding their child from the scary person hiding in a toilet stall.
Anti-LGBT activists know how to press certain buttons to start an uprising. On our side, we’re not that savvy. It seems that equality activists are struggling to get a functioning campaign off the ground. Groups like the Human Rights Campaign are not connecting with the average person or motiving them to join the fight.
Why are we losing, when we should be gaining momentum? Sadly it seems like history is repealing itself.