January 25, 2010
by Robert Cruickshank
During the fall of 2008 – and again in 2009 in Maine – the forces behind Proposition 8 ran a very slick and clever campaign that emphasized “protecting marriage” and “protecting children.” They deliberately left it unclear just what was being protected against, assuming that voters would know to fill in the blanks. Prop 8 backers did a good job of keeping a tight lid on their own true beliefs, making their own position seem less discriminatory and less radical than it actually is.
That all changed this morning in the trial courtroom, as explosive Yes on 8 campaign videos and documents were introduced into evidence. One of the videos was of a campaign rally from 2008 paid for and simulcast by ProtectMarriage.com that shows what they really believe. As reported to us by Yusef Robb of the American Foundation for Equal Rights and shown at the trial today, the video included the following stunning quotes:
“Then pedophiles would have to be allowed to marry 6-7-8 year olds. The man from Massachusetts who petitioned to marry his horse after marriage was instituted in Massachusetts. He’d have to be allowed to do so. Mothers and sons, sisters and brothers, any, any combination would have to be allowed.”
Of course, no such marriages were allowed in Massachusetts, or any other state where same-sex marriage is legal.
“Second of all, the polygamists are waiting in the wings because if a man can marry a man and a woman can marry a woman based on the fact that you have the right to marry whoever you want to marry, then the polygamists are going to use that exact same argument and they’re probably going to win.”
Opponents of marriage equality love to raise this example, even though it is not what is at issue here. It’s an example of what is often called “moving the goalposts” – shifting the ground from a discussion they might lose (“should same-sex couples be allowed to marry?”) to one they feel they might win, even though it isn’t actually what is at issue. No serious and credible organization supporting same-sex marriage has expressed support for polygamy. This is farcical at best.
“We are seeing the people of Massachusetts being desensitized day by day concerning homosexuality and becoming more and more adjusted to the idea of homosexual marriage being the law of the land and the homosexual agenda becoming more and more of a powerful element in the life of our society.”
Here we see very clearly that to Prop 8 backers, this isn’t about marriage at all. It’s about whether homosexuality is accepted by the public and by the law. They believe that legal recognition of same-sex marriage would make it harder to discriminate against LGBT Americans. This quote is indicative of what Prop 8 was really all about.
“I think a helpful way to think about this is to compare it to 9/11 because a lot of us are asking: How does this directly affect us? Well I wasn’t directly affected by 9/11 and my guess is most of you weren’t either in the sense I didn’t know somebody who crashed the plane in the building. I didn’t know somebody who was in the building. But after 9/11 the world was a fundamentally different place and that has affected me. The change in the redefinition of marriage is the same type of thing.”
Can you imagine the public reaction if Californians had known in the fall of 2008 that Prop 8 backers compared marriage equality to the murder of over 3,000 innocent people on that September morning in 2001? Such an outrageous and offensive statement would have caused major damage to the Yes on 8 forces and showed how callous and radical they truly are. When Democrats mistakenly used footage that included the old World Trade Center towers in an ad for Martha Coakley just days before the Massachusetts Senate election, it was seen as a major gaffe that helped ensure Coakley lost the race. Who knows what would have happened had the public known this was being said at a rally paid for and simulcast by the Prop 8 backers?
Rick Jacobs took a moment from his trial liveblogging to offer these comments on the video and quotes:
“This morning’s evidence made the Prop 8 side’s strategy crystal clear — use fear and lies to promote hate. It is horrifying that Prop 8 proponents would compare marriage equality to the 9/11 terrorist attacks and imply that marriage equality will open the door to pedophilia, incest and bestiality.”
“Ron Prentice, Andrew Pugno and their Prop 8 team — with the highly capable and apparently deeply cynical leadership of Frank Schubert — created a permanent campaign to scare voters into believing that same-sex marriage would threaten children, undermine America and lead to every form of illicit behavior imaginable.”
“This evidence is not just a smoking gun. It was an arsenal of incendiary devices directed at the LGBT community and voters. This is how the Prop 8 side won — through fear and lies.”
“Finally, this morning we saw indisputable, documented evidence in the form of emails and videos that Ron Prentice and Protect Marriage coordinated closely and relied upon the Catholic Church, the LDS Church, the Family Research Council, Maggie Gallagher, Brian Brown and the National Organization for Marriage to get Prop. 8 on the ballot and to win through a campaign of lies.”
“Last week, the Supreme Court erased decades of precedent by ruling that corporations have the same rights as people when it comes to speech. Let’s hope that the court will as readily see that LGBT people have at least the same rights as corporations and surely the same rights as other people.”
Looking at these quotes, it’s no wonder why Protect Marriage fought so hard to keep this trial as hidden away from the public as possible. The truth is revealing. The truth is explosive. The truth shows that far from “protecting” families and children, the primary goal of Prop 8 backers was to impose their radical views of society on us, and discriminate against LGBT people in California and across the nation.