I know you all want to hear what happened yesterday at Irvine’s 2020 Main Street, Ground Zero for Proposition 8, the Anti-Marriage Initiative. At 5:30 sharp the entire north side of the building was locked down, as well as every door but one on the south side, for the grand opening of the new offices of Schubert Flint, the Red-OC-connected consultants for the initiative. Folks who worked on the other ten floors of the building were dismayed and angered at having to get past so much security – six extra rent-a-cops – just to return to their jobs from a cigarette break, and wondered what kind of dangerous, top-secret work their new eleventh-floor neighbor was up to.
Like K. in Kafka’s The Castle, all I wanted to do was to get up to the open house itself, just to quietly observe, see what sorts of men and women these might be who would devote so much effort into fighting marriage equality, see how they thought and if any of them would admit they think Prop 8 is mainly a good way to get Christian conservatives to the polls to vote Republican, catch some of their talking points and maybe some of their strategy, and if I heard or saw anything especially absurd or offensive, maybe work it into a snarky post here.
But lo, my name was not on the guest list! So I told the receptionists that I was Vern Nelson, a guest of Matt “Jubal” Cunningham, as I knew he was expecting me. Their eyes lit up “We know Matt” and they speed-dialed him to make sure I was OK, but as they listened to his voice they turned downcast: “I’m sorry, sir, this is a private event.” (Matt later wrote “Vern Nelson tried to lie his way into the event.” No. For one thing, he had very plainly written on his blog “Come To Schubert Flint Public Affairs’ Open House,” and how was I to know that invitation was not directed at me? Plus, if I wanted to lie I would have RSVP’d under a fake name, or claimed to be one of the people whose name tags were sitting out all over the table – they weren’t checking IDs. I just thought Matt MIGHT be a good sport and let a fellow blogger come in. Silly huh.)
The reason for all the security precautions, locked doors and rent-a-cops, was simply some blustery posts from a day earlier promising big protests – originally written by the brilliant Chino Blanco on the various leftwing sites and then picked up by Andrew at the Liberal OC – posts that threw the high-strung Jubal into a panic. As it turned out, a half-dozen humanists showed up to hand out the following masterful Chino Blanco flyer to passersby. These flyers were greatly appreciated by the other occupants of 2020 Main, as it explained why they were being so inconvenienced; It may be a good idea for some of us to go back soon and deliver a dozen more of these to each business there. (link to PDF file here if you want to print some up yourself: http://www.echols.info/SF-Irvine-Aug-14-Flyer.pdf )
(I like that: “When do we get to vote on your marriages?”)
The most entertaining part of this very entertaining thread from Andrew’s story is watching the kaleidoscope of emotions Jubal goes thru when he hears there may be a protest at the carefully-planned open house which he had rashly publicized on his Red-faced County. The first vision he gets is of jackboots; then after a fitful night’s sleep he wakes up seeing left-wing mobs using “street tactics,” and his racing mind begins to reach. At 8:40 AM he demands my (and Andrew’s) home address because protesting there would be just like protesting at a political consultant’s office. At 8:52 the Blogger Who Cannot Tell A Lie tries to make everyone think the event had already happened the day before. Later, with assistance from his sidekick d’Anconia, he introduces the idea that consultants exist on some level above politics and morality and hence we should instead protest at some nonexistent Campaign Headquarters for Proposition 8.
After what seems a lifetime later, the successful open house come and gone unmolested, the dishes washed and folding chairs returned, and all the little Jubalettes tucked soundly in bed, he relaxes at his keyboard and lets loose his elation: our whole effort was “a big flop. Big, Flop.” We were a “puny posse,” a “complete failure,” a “c-o-m-p-l-e-t-e bust.”
Funny, where Jubal saw our failure, I saw our success: With only the minimal number of participants you’d expect at such short notice, we caused the enemies of marriage equality to spend hundreds (if not thousands) of extra homophobe money on security, and irritate the hell out of their new co-tenants.
We demonstrated that plotting against something as harmless and benign as same-sex marriage, which has been gaining acceptance by leaps and bounds, is no longer something that can be done out in the open.
The only failure I regret is not being a fly on the wall upstairs. If I had been, I may have come up with observations and conclusions like Calitics’ D-Day:
This report of a national conference call to fight … marriage equality sounds more like a battle plan than a political strategy session. All the leading figures of the religious right were there, and the language is undeniably militaristic. I believe that the best way to counteract the theocratic right is to display them in all their radicalism, so the whole country understands the goals of their movement. So here ya go:
The primary focus of the call was Proposition 8 in California, described by (Chuck) Colson as “the Armageddon of the culture war.” Many speakers invoked the language of warfare, raising up an army of believers, putting soldiers in the streets, being on the front lines of a battle. Lou Engle actually described a massive rally planned in Qualcomm stadium on November 1 as a “blitzkrieg moment.”
While speaker after speaker spoke of the dire threats same-sex married couples pose to “traditional” marriage, religious freedom, and civilization itself, the overall tone of the call was confidence that victory would be won with God’s help, 40 days of prayer and fasting before the election, teams of intercessors and prayer warriors around the country, and a massive highly organized deployment of volunteers in a systematic voter identification and turnout campaign.
This is not exactly the stuff of democracy, nor is it in any way reflective of a country with a separation of church and state. What is at work here is a putsch, a desire to seize the instruments of power and subjugate everyone to one belief system. They mobilize through fear, claiming that the next steps in the fiendish plan are to ban the Bible, legalize polygamy, and “destroy marriage”. They’re also using supposedly apolitical churches as an illegal communications apparatus:
Ron Luce from Teen Mania ministries and other organizers talked about plans to organize 300,000 youth and their families for an October 1 simulcast, and using them to reach 2.4 million. A representative of the Church Communication Network, a satellite network that has downlink equipment in 500 churches in California, 95 in Arizona, and 321 in Florida, said it would simulcast the youth event free of charge, and would make a satellite dish available “at cost” to churches who don’t yet have one. Said one speaker of the youth organizing, “if we don’t use them, Satan will.”
That is manifestly against the spirit of tax-exempt laws regarding churches – laws which I imagine you’ll see broken many times between now and November. The free simulcasting and satellite services amount to in-kind donations.
People for the American Way is on this and keeping tabs on the theocratic right. As I said, forewarned is forearmed – there’s a growing segment of the state and the country who are repulsed by this fundamentalism, this anti-Democratic dominionism. We have an opportunity this fall to lay bare the innate bigotry of their movement for all to see.
UPDATE: Another aspect to this is the exhuming once again of far-right theocratic icon Alan Keyes, who’s running for President again – but only in California, as part of the American Independent Party (formed in 1968 by segergationist George Wallace, which is somewhat ironic). His running mate is Rev. Wiley Drake, the minister who prayed for the death of members of Americans United for Separation of Church and State last year. The fundies are lining up, packed in two at a time, and all headed to California in lockstep. It’s going to be crazy out here for the next 95 days.
In conclusion, I really think it’s important to reprint a comment from the thread referenced above. For as much fun as we have on both sides hurling banter, taunts and arguments at each other while calculating political damage and gain, this comment from “Richard” reminds us of the real injustice that Jubal, Jeff Flint, Jennifer Kerns and their ilk are fighting to perpetuate, while the rest of us fight to end it:
Just for the record, here in a northern California county, on January 27th, my beloved husband died. We were registered Domestic Partners with the Secretary of State. Had been since 2001. But Domestic Partners really is 2nd class – no it really is no class here.
He died at home so the Deputy Sheriff acted as Coroner. He refused to recognize me as next of kin. He insisted we call a blood relative in New York State to choose a funeral home etc. He wanted to remove all of my beloved’s possesions from our home and ship them back East … including his wedding ring. It was a Sunday night so I could not get the County judge or attorney to set things right (as I did on Monday) I had to lie and weasle to keep our stuff in our home. Because I did not count at all. Our family did not count. We were 2nd class – no class. Because we were not married.
Don’t tell me that Domestic Partnership is just as good as marriage. And don’t tell me that I was not married in my heart AND in my church to my husband. The Court just recognized what is a fact … he and I were married … and it is a civil right.
You have no idea how much it hurt … still hurts … that in 2008, in California, my family was ignored when I needed it to be recognized the most.
NO on Prop. 8!