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CA Prop8 Ballot Initiative Vs. Representative Rule, Let's Reaffirm LGBT Rights thru Representative Rule

By       Message Phyllis Huster       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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To Win Against Further State LGBT Marriage Bans of Our Basic Human & Civil Rights, LGBT and Gay Allied Communities Must Fund Locally, Judicially and Legislatively and NOW!

In the fight for Gay civil rights, if the fight is ballot initiative/citizen rule versus representative rule, the ballot initiative wins everytime.  It’s time for the Gay community to flex our hugely powerful financial muscle and demand local legislators and judges to do their jobs and immediately repair these very serious constitutional and federal violations of our most basic civil right to marry.  The consequences must be a turning off of our financial spigot to legislators from President all the way down to our city councilmen until all marriage bans in all 33 states are repealed.  LGBT political funding is our biggest lever of power, an LGBT & allied community estimated at 16% to 20% our society and we must use that lever now and locally to have a chance of winning against more Prop8 like ballot box digressions.

Ballot initiatives represent our cowardly legislator’s inability to rule proactively and decisively for the Gay community when many of them fueled their rise to power on our early money (Howard dean and Obama both have funded their rise from strong LGBT funding).  While I’m happy to see the ‘gender identity’ added to the Obama transition team discrimination ban, it does not give me one ounce of solace today.
The recent CA Prop 8 Ballot Initiative passed, allowing California to reverse a Gay couple’s right to marry, banning Gay marriage and nullifying almost 18,000 married and happy CA LGBT couple’s rights.  Serious times require serious progressive framing.

As 10,000 New York LGBT demonstrators poured into the streets this week, and similar throngs of LGBT and Gay allied members vow a Nov. 15th nationwide civil rights protest, we better understand now the root causes and issue framing before we spend another hard earned penny on this struggle.  

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Root Cause of Prop8 Failure: Ballot Initiatives Are Bad Substitutes for Representative Government and Our Legislators are Failing the LGBT Community Miserably

The issue is not Church vs. Gay, Blacks vs. Gay or even elderly citizens versus Gay.  Indeed, the real fight is Ballot Initiative (i.e one person one vote) Government versus Representative Government.  The founding fathers wisely understood Representative government was by far a better form of government.  Ballot initiatives create a government ruled by the sometimes hotheaded and misguided masses versus actual democracy we have which includes our elder statesman scholars who should and must play a leadership role in our United State of America.  The founding fathers put “representative government” in charge, not citizens, and there is a strong reason why.  

While our Congress celebrates a 10% approval rating (lower than Bush’s), I hesitate to leave this key struggle in their hands since they proved to be neither elder statesmen or scholars.  But I do encourage we must trust legislators and judges (the more local the better) now as that is our best short term hope of reversal.  Incumbents win, largely because of a very broken election system rather than failed representative government and demonstrates we need new leadership in Congress and locally.  The fact that places like Holland and other European countries have solved this gay marriage civil rights issue 7 years ago with full marriage equality merely demonstrates how emotionally immature the US citizen base is when compared with similar wise cultures in Europe.

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The main root cause of the Prop8 failure is the erosion of representative rule by ballot initiatives, which pretend to capture the true will of the people, inevitably drive us to a kind of tyrannical democracy from which we will spend years and millions of dollars to recover.

This philosophical struggle between popular citizen sovereignty and representative rule dates back to a fight between a Frenchmen Rousseau & and Irish statesman in British parliament, Edmund Burke.  Rousseau thought citizens deserved popular sovereignty over their government.  Burke disagreed. He wisely predicted the French revolution would fail to establish citizen rule government and that it would eventually recede to more conventional forms of representative government and 2 years later he was proven correct.  The French revolution started off bloody and ended in endless factious fighting.  The theme Burke argued was that popular citizen masses are incapable of the wise judgment needed to govern themselves and their government. From his debate in Parliament in England in 1790:

“The French had shewn themselves the ablest architects of ruin that had    hitherto existed in the world. In that very short space of time they had completely pulled down to the ground, their monarchy; their church; their nobility; their law; their revenue; their army; their navy; their commerce; their arts; and their manufactures...[there was a danger of] an imitation of the excesses of an irrational, unprincipled, proscribing, confiscating, plundering, ferocious, bloody and tyrannical democracy.”

I would replace French with the word Californians and this paragraph seems particularly fitting especially as potentially violent riots are possible in the streets this weekend.  We cannot know the number of teenage suicides that will result from California kids receiving a state based “message” of Anti-Gay themes, similar to the ones from their fundamental churches and sometimes unwise elder parents confirm daily, that their  GAY love is illegal and NOT OK.  Take it from a lesbian who had to boycott her mom until she accepted me, it’s not easy to swim upstream against our parents, preachers and now governments when all we’re trying to do is lead a normal life and have wives and girlfriends.

Burke strongly felt people are better off drawing from the "general bank and capital of nations and of ages" than from their own intellects.  We need only look at any revolutionary struggle and see how the new dictator installed in third world countries as the result of revolution was sometimes worse than the old one.   But instead, when we elect newer more representative leaders we get a much better government versus citizen rule and I would argue the option for gains are locally versus federally. We should also have an upside down pyramid for funding, local races get higher percentage of our LGBT capital versus federal fights, since local races do impact our lives much faster and with great lasting legislative victories which almost always start out locally.

A Thought Experiment On Interracial Marriage Rights in the Town of Black, Alabama:
Let’s conduct a thought experiment.  Let’s launch a ballot initiative in the town of Black Alabama. It has a population 202, with white folk comprising 94.06% of the population and African Americans  comprising 5.45%.  Let’s go to that tiny town, launch a ballot initiative and ask the question “Should Black people be allowed to marry white people?”  Let’s see the result of that initiative which will most certainly fail in a city that has mostly white, mostly poor (average $36,250 which falls below most estimates of poverty level) families and largely a fundamentalist church based community. It has 10 churches for its 202 citizens which amounts to 1 church for every 20 people.   If the imaginary ballot initiative fails there, in Black Alabama then why do African Americans still have the right to marry whites in this particular community?  Because the wise Judiciary in 1967 passed the “Loving V. Virginia” declaring Virginia's anti-miscegenation (interracial marriage) statute, the "Racial Integrity Act of 1924", unconstitutional, which overturned the 1883 Pace V. Alabama ruling.  Notice the Alabama part?  This simple thought experiment certainly points out how historically we’ve buffered citizen rule with supreme court and federal mandates to make up for racially insensitive, sometimes intolerant smalltowns and sometimes state based attacks on civil rights.  This experiment merely points how many communities would using ballot initiatives like to repeal a woman’s right to choose because they are largely fundamental religious communities and who don’t think abortion is ok, even though it was decided by the Supreme Court abortion certainly is and still remains legal.  How terrible to reverse that fundamental human right to choose. (with all due respect to the kind people of Black, AL I apologize profusely if they are indeed a progressive community and feel interracial marriages are just fine, I just needed a town for my thought experiment.)

Taking A Hard Left Turn In LGBT Marriage Rights Strategy

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The LGBT community must turn a hard corner and invest wisely in judicial and legislative solutions to this fight and resist the urge to spend another penny on more certain to fail ballot initiatives.  Sadly, pouring millions into HRC and the Victory Fund our 2 biggest LGBT lobbyist organizations delivers powerful dollars to lobbyists who have misjudged and strategically failed the Gay community.   The simple fact that ballot initiatives are a waste of money has eluded them 33 state bans later.  This is unforgivable and they have crow to eat with us, their biggest supporters. If you see an LGBT national organization begging for money, ask the tough question, where will this money really go?  They have failed in 33 states including our most liberal, California, folks, when do we stop giving to the strategists in these organizations who continually fail?  When do we fire our own failed lobbyists?  Consider how many State Senators, State House Reps, state judges we could fund into office with the estimated $28M spent on CA Prop8 struggle?

I stopped funding my local and national Gay Lobbyist organizations long ago, because I could not find enough LGBT legislation success versus their total funding to justify being a giver.  Rather, I found horribly inadequate minimalist legislation and many expensive parties the outcome of which I don’t see working in my state or federally for me as a lesbian.  I simply can’t believe it’s 2008 and I still don’t have the most basic of Gay civil rights.  My pennies are now fully focused on funding my own run for office, because I don’t really trust anyone else in the LGBT lobbyist community to represent me.

It would seem to me the Gay community has a hard time doing its strategic math.    There are over 33 states now that support a statute based on a constitutional ban on same sex marriage.  This after hundreds of millions spent on the eleven 2004 gay marriage bans in which all eleven states including ‘liberal’ Oregon lost.  My thesis then as it is now, BALLOT INITATIVIES DON’T WORK, THEY NEVER WILL.  When will the LGBT community do the math on this?  I remember a very emotional Christmas when I polled all 7 of my brothers and sisters on the 2004 Marriage initiative and sadly discovered they voted unequivocally to ban my right to marry.  In fairness, many of them did so because of the confusing wording on the ballot and the fact that it was not clear that ‘marriage of man to a woman’ also meant, and to no one else.

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