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Proposition 8 Battle Energizes Queer Community
The resistance movement to Proposition 8 is bringing forward a new generation of Queer community leaders who are rejecting the "safe" strategies of their elders and the namby-pamby losing campaign against it. Young activists are organizing demonstrations on the Internet and giving speeches that remind author Leo Laurence — who founded the first Gay-liberation group in San Francisco in January 1969, five months before Stonewall — of the radical Queers of the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Proposition 8 Battle Energizes Community
Young Activists Ignore “Leaders,” Mobilize on Internet
by LEO E. LAURENCE, J.D.
Copyright © 2008 by Leo E. Laurence, J.D. • All rights reserved
Barack Obama’s presidential campaign emphasized change, and unexpectedly the November 4 election also sparked a major, nationwide change in the Queer [Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender] community.
It is electrified, with new young, grass-roots firebrand leaders unexpectedly replacing the tame, tired “Gay professionals,” who “have been too long been in charge,” said one Gay union leader.
Weekly Proposition 8 protest demonstrations are set for 11 a.m. every Monday at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel downtown.
The battle opposing Proposition 8 on the ballot created by “Gay professionals” was tame, timid and grossly ineffective — statewide and locally.
So now a young grass-roots movement of new non-professional leadership is emerging. They show new energy and are using the Internet extensively (e.g., Facebook, MySpace, JoinTheImpact.org and QueerToday) to recruit the troops, according to baby-faced Tony Cochran, 21, of L.A.
He is a union man (Hotel Workers’ Union) who largely organized the continuing rallies at the Manchester Grand Hyatt downtown, adjacent to Seaport Village. “We want to hold the rallies every Monday at 11 a.m.,” he said in an interview.
Cochran worked closely with another young union leader, fiery Carlos Marquez, 28, the Gay-Latino chair of Pride-at-Work. For years, it has been the growing Gay segment of the local, union movement. But, its leadership has changed and Maequez is now in charge.
Both Cochran and Marquez were joined by Joel Trambley, 35, political committee co-chair of the local Human Rights Campaign (HRC), to produce the Manchester Grand Hyatt weekly 11 a.m. demon-strations.
Youth at March & Rally
New young organizers also mobilized the massive 25,000-plus march through downtown, and the massive rally at the County Administration Building that followed.
Sara Beth Brooks was the lead march coordinator, who was “in charge of everything,” a protester said. Again, the Internet was used heavily to recruit participants.
Kelly Moyer was the march’s Internet Organizer who sent out “at least 6,000 invitations on Facebook and on two websites, including Protest8sandiego.com.”
Yet another energetic, firebrand, new, grass-roots Gay leader is Nick Moede, the young owner of both Rick’s and Numbers, popular Gay bar attractions in Hillcrest.
Moede almost single-handedly organized, produced and financed the huge rally at the County Administration Building on Nov. 15, with a massive cruise ship in the background. He also gave an electric speech that was strongly reminiscent of speeches by pioneers of the Gay-Lib movement in California, months before Stonewall.
“I have found a new voice,” Moede shouted in his rally battle speech.
“Through your (Yes on 8 campaign, largely funded by the Mormons) deceitful and deplorable campaign of lies, you have given a voice to a whole new generation of activists,” Moede yelled.
“You have given us courage to stand up and to say we will not accept being second-class citizens,” Moede told the huge crowd, mostly of young people, who repeatedly shouted back their support.
“And, when you tell us we can’t be equal and we can’t have the same rights, and when you tell us that we cannot marry, we will stand up and respond with three simple words that are sweeping across our great nation: Yes, we can!,” Moede shouted to thunderous cheers and applause.
In a strong echo of speeches made in ’68 and ’69, Moede yelled:
“Come out! BE OPEN ABOUT WHO YOU ARE!
“Tell your co-workers!
“If you’re not ‘out’ to your family, go home tonight and have that conversation.
“Don’t be afraid to talk about your boyfriend or girlfriend.
“Don’t be afraid of people knowing who you are.
“And, for all the awesome parents out there, when you go back to work on Monday, tell your co-workers, ‘I’m proud of my son’.
“Tell them, ‘My daughter is a Lesbian and I love her very much!’.
“It’s important for us to be open about who we are because it’s much harder for others to be afraid of us, or discriminate against us, if they know who we are!” Moede said in his rousing speech.
Nationwide Boycott of California
Many believe the strategy of the ineffective No-on-8 campaign before the Nov. 4th election was too tame and closeted. Those “Gay professionals” rejected using the phrase “Gay marriage” in their timid TV ads, reportedly because it might offend the straights. They also rejected showing successful Gay couples in the TV ads, for the same limp reason.
So, some national leaders think it’s time for the Queer community to get tough … really tough!
In Philadelphia, the respected publisher of the Philadelphia Gay News, Mark Segal, has called for a national boycott of all California.
That’s the “big gun, the boycott,” wrote Philadelphia’s Segal.
“Travel spending in California in 2007 was $96.7 billion. Tourism and travel that year raised $2.2 billion in local taxes, and $3.6 billion in stare taxes.
“While a last resort, a national boycott on individual travel and corporate conventions would be devastating to California.
“In 1977, the very young GLBT community was able to lower orange juice consumption by about 21 percent. That was as a result of a boycott against the vicious and homophobic Anita Bryant, the TV spokesperson for Florida oranges.
“Imagine what could be done today (with a Gay boycott of California),” Segal asks.
“The GLBT community nationwide is willing to support California’s marriage efforts,” he added.
“I think (the idea of a national boycott of California) is a fantastic idea,” says Martin Brickson, a retired straight man from Scripps Ranch.
Legal Issues Involved
Weeks before the balloting, L.A. attorney Gloria Allred — lead attorney on the same-sex marriage cases before the California Supreme Court — had petitions prepared to file with that high court in case Proposition 8 succeeded.
Contrary to stories in some of the mainstream media, these three petitions are not new lawsuits. They are all part of the same cases involving the earlier Proposition 22 (which was identical to Proposition 8 except that it was only an initiative statute, not an amendment to the state constitution), and which resulted in the landmark Opinion of the California Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriages last May.
That 162-page Opinion of the Court is a masterpiece of comprehensive research in constitutional law. As a matter of law, it is influencing the state high courts in the east; and Connecticut has already legalized same-sex marriages, citing the California court’s ruling extensively.
In the law, in both criminal and civil (marriage) matters, (1) there is the substantive law, which determines the our legal rights in life; and (2) there is the procedural law, which determines how those rights will be enforced.
Both the substantive and the procedural law are involved in the three petitions now being considered by the stare’s highest court.
The substantive argument opposing Proposition 8 says that same-sex marriage rights are basic and fundamental to our system of jurisprudence. They are protected by the equal-protection clause of our sate Constitution, as the court’s May ruling states in great detail.
If that remains true, the three pending petitions argue that procedurally the electorate cannot use the initiative process to eliminate basic, fundamental, civil rights. Therefore, Proposition 8 is uncon-stitutional.
That is the procedural element of the three petitions now being considered by the high court.
The suits also argue that changes to fundamental state constitutional rights of Gays and Lesbians — or, anyone else — would be a basic revision of the state constitution, and that requires a 2/3rd vote of the legislature before it can go to the voters.
Proponents of Yes on 8 have been shouting in the media that the courts must follow the vote of the people. But as a matter of law, the high court’s May opinion clearly states that the electorate cannot adopt an unconstitutional law or amendment to the state Constitution.
It probably will be about six months before another final ruling by the state’s high court is issued. Briefings with the court by the parties will take until January 5. The court will then hear oral arguments, possibly in March, after which it has 90 days to issue a ruling.
Without another Order of the Court, Proposition 8 will become law when the state secretary of state certifies the election’s results.
Given basic rules of appellate law, however, it is highly unlikely that existing marriages will be declared null-and-void, even if the court says that Proposition 8 is constitutional.
Meanwhile, weekly demonstrations at 11 a.m. are scheduled for the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel adjacent to Seaport Village, according to organizer Cochran.
For comment, contact Leo Laurence at (619) 757-4909 or at leopowerhere [at] msn.com
Photo Captions (top to bottom):
Protest marchers walk through downtown San Diego, under heavy police escort.
With a large cruise ship in the background, 25,000+ converge on a rally at the County Admini-stration Building on the Embarcadero.
Three TV news stations covered one of continuing rallies at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel adjacent to Seaport Village downtown.
Part of the rally crowd at the rally at the Manchester Grand Hyatt hotel adjacent to the Seaport Village downtown.
One of a new breed of Gay leader, Latino union leader Carlos Marquez speaks at the Manchester Grand Hyatt rally Nov. 22.
Youthful Gay leaders like Tony Cochran, 21, of the Hotel Workers Unions organized and produced the Manchester hotel rally.