CommunityPam's House Blend

Angry Crowd At The Equality Summit

Update: Some days are harder than others. I’ve been taken to task on the assertion that there have been public venting sessions in San Francisco, and there have been none in Los Angeles. I want to make clear that I was reporting on the impressions of grassroots activists I met at the summit, and not on the factual basis — such as dates and times –of whether or not there actually has been satisfactory venting sessions. And, that’s what I was trying to capture: the thoughts and feelings of the activists on the ground floor of California’s marriage equality movement.

So, I updated the paragraph where I mentioned the venting to clarify what I meant regarding the venting process.

Mike Petrelis at the Petrelis Files has a different take on whether or not venting has taken place: Pam’s House Blend: Wrong on SF’s Prop 8 Forums, Lack Thereof?

One of the things I took away from first plenary session at the Equality Summit is it’s in large part, a pretty angry crowd. They aren’t happy about how the Prop 8 campaign was run at all, and they want answers to questions that it sounds like they don’t feel like they’re getting from the leaders of the No On Prop 8 Campaign.

Equality SummitThe morning plenary began with a Prop 8 Election ’08 Summary. The panels were as follows:

Staff and Executive Committee of Let California Ring (Geoff Kors & Vaishalee Raja)

Staff and Executive Committee of, and Experts on, NO on 8 campaign (Chad Griffin, Yvette Martinez, Sarah Reece, Lorri Jean, Kate Kendall, Geoff Kors, Delores Jacobs, Marty Rouse, Chris Maliwat, and Julie Davis)

Staff from Marriage Equality USA (Pamela Brown, Policy Director and Molly McKay, Media Director)

Proposition 8 Post-Election California Voter Survey, presented by David Binder, David Binder Research)

There were interesting admissions by the official campaign leadership during the session. One of the admissions by Geoff Kors that particularly struck me is that he believes that the campaign gave to much power to set strategy to the political operatives. The political operatives ran an issues based and reactionary campaign, whereas the No On Prop 8 Campaign needed to be a hearts-and-minds campaign. (Think “Proposition 8: Post Election California Voter Survey”).

The presentation by Marriage Equality USA was entitled Collective Wisdom of Our Grassroots Community — I’ll do a separate post on that presentation. It was particularly interesteding.

Following these groups, there was a question and answer session moderated by Karen Ocamb, the News Editor for IN Los Angeles Magazine.

During the q&a period, tempers seemed high. One of the grassroots organizers from San Diego explained to me that one of the reasons for the palpable anger in the room was due to how Los Angeles had not had a debrief. In San Diego and San Francisco, for example, there were public sessions where LGBT community members could vent at the No On Prop 8 campaign for the perceived failures of the campaign. That didn’t happen in Los Angeles Talking to a few grassroots activists and ground floor Prop 8 volunteers, the impression was that that didn’t happen in Los Angeles, so apparently many of the Los Angeles folk never had a chance felt like they never had a chance to vent their anger.

And, there were the same complaints I’ve heard elsewhere — the people in the front of the room were all white, there wasn’t enough lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender imagery used in the campaign, the official campaign wasn’t a hearts and mind campaign, and was too reactionary, etc. The commenters sounded to me like they wanted to affix blame. Let’s be honest — I have said I would like to see new leadership if there is a new political campaign on marriage equality in California.

Giving what I would term a BS-cutting comment to me though was my friend (and peer San Diegan) Kelly Moyer. Summing up her thoughts on the perception that many wanted to affix blame at the complaint q&a session, she said:

I don’t want a witch hunt; I need a victory.

And, that’s what most of the folk are here for — pretty much every person who signed up to attend the Equality Summit wants an electoral, legislative, or courthouse victory in California on marriage equality…soon.

Perhaps a bit frustratingly, most wanted a electoral victory last November.

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