by Pat Gozemba
Karen Ocamb wrote an insightful and very instructional piece, “Federal Challenge to Prop 8 Hearing Today,” in LGBT.POV. Ocamb is focused on the Ted Olson and David Boies federal suit on behalf of Americans for Equal Rights. They have set out to prove the unconstitutionality of Prop 8. Ocamb gives important context for today’s case. All of us who are struggling to achieve marriage equality should read her article and consider the strategies that our opponents are mounting against us.
I’m back in Hawaii and looking forward to joining with the LGBT community and our many allies in trying to bring some semblance of equality to this island state where the contemporary marriage equality movement all began with a favorable court decision in 1993. Sure, the brave decision of the Hawai’i high court brought about the backlash of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996, but it also woke up many of us to come to believe that we deserved the right to marry. No matter how many states put in place their own versions of DOMA, the very possibility of a hope for equality ignited the imaginations of millions of people committed to justice.
Since 1993, the creativity of civil rights activists across the country has brought us to courts, legislatures, and public forums of all sorts. It’s pumped up our grassroots organizations like the Courage Campaign and Join the Impact and some of the tried and true warriors on our side like the American Civil Liberties Union.
But that, sixteen year-old court victory in Hawai’i has done the same for the anti-equality movement, those who want to assure that they are more equal and more righteous. Their forums have largely been hidden behind church doors and fueled by church coffers. The religious engines that are stoking the denial of our civil rights are Catholic and Mormon. They have created the National Organization for Marriage, a slick hate group that has served as a conduit for Mormon and Catholic money and kept up an internet presence.
The anti-equality side also hit pay dirt when they hired political consultants Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint to run the “Yes on Prop 8” campaign in California (2008) and then the “Yes on 1 Stand for Marriage” campaign in Maine (2009). The campaigns were virtually the same and were fueled by the big lies of made up “consequences,” of marriage equality particularly the sure-fire inner, the teaching of gay marriage to schoolchildren. We will hear this and all of their other nightmarish projections all over the country. The lies work.
As the Hawai’i Family Equality Coalition focuses its attention on the state senate in hopes of passing HB 444 a civil unions bill, we would all do well to study Karen Ocamb’s analysis of the strategies that Olson and Boies are using in federal court as well as those of Schubert and Flint that local copycats like the Hawaii Family Forum and Transformation Hawai’i.
LGBT allies, read and study Ocamb’s article.