I've been thinking a lot about similar gender marriage lately. And its proponents.
I followed the prop8 trial very closely, even going to observe it two days. I watched every second of the proposition 8 trial re-enactment on YouTube. I've even listened to Family News in Focus to try to understand where the other side is coming from, and how they've interpreted the trial.
I've been absolutely mystified by the approach that the prop8 defendants (protectmarriage.com) took during the trial. It seemed like they opened up a shotgun on one foot, then the other, then still not satisfied, started gnawing off their hands. Their defense was really that incompetent. It can't be unintentional. They must have wanted to lose the case. But why?
I still don't have a good theory on that.
Were they just so cocky that they are going to win in the Supreme Court that they decided not to invest any resources in the trial? That doesn't make sense to me. Why sabotage their own trial if they thought they might have to defend it in the Supreme Court?
Were they hoping to portray the trial as a miscarriage of justice - in essence setting up Judge Walker to take on the unwitting role of an "activist judge"? That makes some sense to me, because they certainly have been making hay in their news broadcasts about how San Francisco justice is about to be foisted on the whole country. But how often (if ever) would they get the opportunity to get a new trial rather than have it appealed up to the 9th district? And is it worth losing the war in order to get a few bucks out of scaring people with the threat of having an activist judge force everyone in the country into a similar gender marriage?
In a related vein, maybe they really need a new front in this battle in order to keep donations up. Now that every state with a voter initiative process has had a marriage restriction amendment of some sort on the ballot, they need a new bogey man, and have found it in this trial. But that is just too conspiratorial for my taste. I believe that these people are earnest in their beliefs. I think that there are some people like Karl Rove who have done some truly cynical manipulation of them, but I think that the vast majority of them, the people giving money, even those running television ministries and organizations to "protect" marriage, are honest and heartfelt, if (from my perspective at any rate) misguided.
And that brings me around to the thought that I started out with when sitting down to write tonight. In the circles I travel, it is easy to be flip and dismissive about the millions of people who voted for proposition 8. I mean, what were they thinking, right?
In response to claims that one wacko judge in California had just over-ruled the entire voting public, I recently posted on FaceBook:
"Correction: one judge AND THE CONSTITUTION invalidated the votes of millions of Californians".
Hey, it's good for a laugh, but after posting that, I've been thinking, you know, invalidating the votes of millions of Californians is really no laughing matter. It's pretty serious business.
It was the right thing to do, but it's also unreasonable for our side to just think, OK, no biggie, now that's over and we're on the right path again. A lot of people did vote, and a lot did vote against us. And now they've just been told that their votes were wrong, unconstitutional, un-American.
It shouldn't be surprising if a lot of them resent having their votes invalidated, and there will probably be some who might be swayed to the right side of the issue, but will resist it just because they feel like their vote was stolen from them.
And that got me thinking about how should we go about acknowledging the hurt of having their votes taken away from them, and still trying to convince them that their position was wrong in the first place? Its thoughts like that that make me glad I'm not a political consultant. I mean, how can you square that circle?