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It’s ours to lose

By | 2014-04-10T09:00:00-04:00 April 10th, 2014|Uncategorized|

by Dawn Wolfe

On Sept. 21, Gallup released a CNN-sponsored poll which seemed to indicate that Proposal 2 was losing by six points. Another poll showed a decided drop in support for the anti-gay measure between August and September. Yet, on Sept. 28, Bill Ballenger of Inside Michigan Politics released a poll that he commissioned. The results? Proposal 2 won that poll, 61 percent to 33 percent with a mere 6 percent undecided. On Oct. 3, the Detroit Free Press published results of a poll which seemed to show clear support for Proposal 2, but those results were garnered in conversations with only a thousand or so people.
So, what’s the difference?
The difference is my hairdresser.
The other night, I went to have my hair done after work. My hairdresser, Anne, is an intelligent, articulate person; in addition to gossiping about her son and our mates, it’s not unusual for us to talk about current events. I’d say, in fact, that Anne is probably more informed than the supposed average person.
Anne had never heard of Proposal 2. Neither had Suzie, Anne’s other client that evening. So, over an evening of hair coloring, I explained Proposal 2 in all its anti-gay glory to both of these very straight women.
They were aghast. Horrified to hear that there are people out there with such small lives that they’ve put their energy into trying to ruin the lives of others. Angered to hear about Proposal 2’s probable effects on domestic partnership benefits, about people losing health insurance for the “crime” of either choosing not to marry or of not even having that option. And just plain ticked that children, too, will be hurt if this amendment passes.
That conversation convinced me that our community is severely underestimating how tired the average voter is becoming of the religious right. I think Suzie expressed it best, “Can’t they just leave people alone, and get a life of their own?”
The “conventional wisdom” seems to be that our fight to defeat the religious right at the ballot box is not only an uphill one, but perhaps an unwinnable one. The zealots have us out-manned, out-monied and out-gunned, and they have most straight people on their side.
In this case, though, the “conventional wisdom” is idiocy. In just a few months, the Coalition for a Fair Michigan has been able to put together a grassroots organization of thousands of people who are eager to prove the religious right, wrong. In just a few months, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised, hundreds of public speakers have been trained – and the poll numbers have been pushed in our direction.
But those efforts haven’t reached Anne. Or Suzie. Or the millions of other straight Michigan residents who believe, as they do, that no one has the right to interfere in the relationships of others.
Nor have they reached the additional millions who believe that taking domestic partnership benefits away is just plain mean, whatever they may feel about the importance of “traditional marriage.”
And they have not yet reached the even greater number of voters for whom equal marriage rights is just not an issue – but who would love to have a chance at the ballot box to tell the religious right to go away and get a life.
Bill Ballenger himself said it best, “It’s not like anyone is buying TV ad time to push the numbers one way or the other,” he told BTL.
However, one thing we know is that, even though they haven’t spent it yet, the other side does have the money to “push the numbers.” The other thing we know is that their commercials won’t tell the truth about Proposal 2. They will play on people’s sympathy for those poor Christian conservatives who fear that society is falling apart. They will attempt to sell a story that Proposal 2 is just another way to keep yet another special interest group from claiming and winning “special rights.” They will say anything they have to say to hide the truth that Proposal 2, if passed, will actually hurt real families – gay and straight alike.
We have to be the ones to tell that truth. We not only need to reach out to our traditional allies and our non-traditional ones as well – we need to fill the airwaves with the truth about Proposal 2. Television is our only chance to continue to “push the numbers” the way we need them to go. But in addition to these ads, each and every person reading this needs to talk to ten friends about Proposal 2 and get those friends to the polls to vote “no.”
This fight is ours to lose. The polls say so, and my conversations with Anne and Suzie, and other – mostly straight – people I’ve talked with, say so as well.
So I ask the fence-sitters out there, major and minor donors and potential speakers and volunteers who haven’t joined the fight because they’re still convinced we can’t win: do you really want today’s conventional wisdom to become tomorrow’s self-fulfilling prophecy?
If you’d rather win than be right about our chance of losing, you must give – your money, your time and your voice – and give NOW. Because in order to win, we have to reach the Annes and the Suzies out there who still don’t know what this proposal is about. And I can’t get my hair colored every night from now until Nov. 2.
To make a donation or volunteer, contact the Coalition for a Fair Michigan on the web at www.fairmichigan.org, by postal mail at 33523 8 Mile Rd., Ste. A3, PMB 181, Livonia, MI, 48152, or call 248-477-7504.

About the Author:

BTL Staff
Between The Lines has been publishing LGBTQ-related content in Southeast Michigan since the early '90s. This year marks the publication's 27th anniversary.