Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Where to from here?

I’m angry. I suspect I’m not alone in this.

A Florida Circuit Court judge (read: trial court judge) has just ruled that the Florida law barring gay couples from adopting is unconstitutional.

I’m not angry about that. That I’m glad about.

No, I’m angry that a lawyer in Orlando who’s allied with the losing side called the judge an “activist judge.”

Let me translate: “activist judge” means “sour grapes.”

Now I’m a lawyer and I don’t like it when a judge rules against me, but it happens. It’s happened to me a lot, especially in my own family law case where three separate judges and a lawyer-arbitrator have each ruled against me. I believe the evidence would prove to any impartial observer that these rulings reflect a shocking degree of gender-based bias but at least the severity of the rulings have been decreasing.

The Religious Right though is something else.

You would think that these people are somewhat chastened by the repudiation they suffered at the polls this past Election Day, but no. They still think they have a god-given right to inject their religious into the civil sphere and subject the rest of us to their theocratic lunacies.

These people are dinosaurs. Perhaps they haven’t heard about the meteor that just hit them. It’s called Barack Obama.

But Obama is just an agent of a larger phenomenon. It’s called The Youth. They are not a monolith but in general as a group they are not buying into their parents’ tired old prejudices.

I wrote about this in a prior blog but in this week’s New Yorker Hendrik Hertzberg encapsulated it very nicely in a piece entitled Eight is Enough. He writes:

“California’s gay activists and their straight allies, judging from their online postmortems, have begun to direct more criticism at themselves than at their opponents. They were complacent: early polls had shown Prop. 8 losing by double digits. Their television ads were timid and ineffective, focussing on worthy abstractions like equality and fairness, while the other side’s were powerfully emotional. (Also dishonest—they implied that gay marriage would threaten churches’ tax exemptions, force church-affiliated adoption agencies to place children with gay couples, and oblige children to attend gay weddings—but that sort of thing was to be expected.)”

I realized the gay leadership was incompetent when I was working with the “No on Prop 8” campaign last spring, going out to shopping centers to sign-up people to pledge not to sign the Prop 8 petition.

I asked for a copy of the Prop 8 Petition I was supposed to ask people not to support. Can you believe the anti-Prop 8 campaign didn’t have one to show me?

And they didn’t want to debate people who said they would support Prop 8.

So I ignored them and I got some of the people who said they would support Prop 8 to change their minds. One was a Jewish poli-sci professor and another was a young black man who had bought into all the biblical nonsense. I let him have it. Of all the people who should have supported gay rights, blacks as a group voted most strongly to further oppress another oppressed minority. Shame on them.

The anti-Prop 8 leadership had to know the Prop 8 proponents were going to pull out all the stops in a last-minute media lying blitz but they did nothing to stop it. Rather than wage an aggressive pre-emptive campaign to confront the Religious Right and nip their lie campaign in the bud before they could gain any traction, the gay leadership pussyfooted around, waging a let’s-be-nice campaign that was a sure loser. It wasn’t until the day after the election they started doing what they should have been doing a month before the election but by then they were literally a day late and tens of millions of wasted dollars short.

As Hertzberg points out, gay (and I feel safe including all LGBT) rights will prevail but I’m angry the loss on Prop 8 will remain a blot, not just on the Religious Right but on the LGBT leadership that failed its constituents.

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