Sunday, October 26, 2008

No on Prop 8 - 9 days and counting...

I wish life could be all about slankets and coziness, but sometimes you gotta come out of your warm cocoon and fight for tolerance and equality. For the past weeks, I've been working as a volunteer for the No on Prop 8 campaign here in California.

I think most of you are pretty familiar with Prop 8, but just to be on the safe side, Proposition 8 would specify in the CA constitution that marriage is only valid between a man and woman and thus eliminate the rights to same sex couples that were granted with the recent CA Supreme Court decision (Chief Justice George wrote in his majority decision, "An individual's sexual orientation -- like a person's race or gender -- does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights." Bravo, sir.)

A lot of people have given donations to support the cause and some live out of state... with this post, I wanted to show you where your money is going. These are some of the ads that are in heavy rotation on television - I see about 10 commercials a day, and I also have heard radio spots.

This one is my favorite, as it directly calls into question the insidious propaganda that the Yes camp has been spewing out.

But then watching the Amazing Race, I saw this - which I'm certain will be run over and over again. Using children to foment intolerance is just sickening.

There's an insanely large grassroots effort as well and we can use any help you can offer. You can join in on the fun here - we need to be visible.

The field office that I've been volunteering is in West Hollywood, conveniently located next to a Trader Joe's and a Chinese restaurant. I believe it used to be some sort of hair salon, but now it's the center of campaign fever!

What it lacks in comfort, it makes up for in dedication and energy.

The bathroom is especially "authentic". There's also a room where charging cell phones are kept that is known affectionately as "the dungeon".

I often serve as a greeter before training sessions, and then jump into my role as a coach once the volunteers get on the phones.

A picture of an impromptu training session for volunteers that arrived in between scheduled sessions. The woman in blue was especially charming - she was volunteering with her son and gave me a hug after her shift was over.

All volunteers use specific scripts that are currently designed to make sure that our base actually gets out and vote, and doesn't stay home because they assume Obama will take California. The second objective is to clarify what No vote actually means - a lot of people who are supportive of same sex marriage think that the correct vote is Yes, which would be a sad sad mistake. (Fortunately, it is likely that the opposition will have the same problem - by all means Vote No on Prop 8 and teach those gays a lesson!).

The script:

We typically have 30-35 volunteers who come to each phone bank session. Many are repeat volunteers, but most are new. We have around twenty-one laptops in our office available for volunteers to use to reach registered voters - the computer dial numbers much more quickly than us mere humans and uses relaxing hold music that I will probably dream about until May 2009. Because she's awesome, Yeah4me has been using the computer program to call CA voters from her home in Virgina.

Anytime someone gets a person on the phone who plans or has already voted No, we ring one of those hotel front desk bells and everyone goes "Wooo!" Two dings if we get someone to volunteer with us on Election Day. (hint hint blog readers!)

The rest of the volunteers use paper lists of registered voters.

At the phone bank on Saturday morning, there was a certain cast member of a top-rated medical drama in attendance with his boyfriend. He brought in two dogs that were extremely well behaved and they made calls with little fanfare for 3 hours. He was one of the first celebrities to give money in support of the No on Prop 8 campaign, and I was impressed that he actually donates his time as well. He is a very nice guy.

Pic of one of the doggies. Note the subflooring and mismatched chairs - pretty much everything in the office was donated by volunteers or corporations.

This election will be close. In the beginning we were ahead, then the opposition started running their commercial about a little girl wanting to marry a princess, and we started slipping. Now we're starting to catch up, but it's going to be a tough battle.

I've had some pretty passionate conversations with people both online and in real life. Like I have two family members that are going to vote Yes, despite the fact a close member of our family (my step-sister) is a lesbian. Really sad. The best thing to do when I'm feeling angry or discouraged is to spend some time fighting alongside people who are committed to the same cause that I am. I want to do everything I can to ensure that gays and lesbians are able to have the 1,000+ state and federal rights that are available to me and Mr. Insomniac.

In closing, here are some excerpts of some of my favorite conversations with folks...

Me: How do you feel about same sex marriage?
Her: Well, what about the children? I don't want my kid learning about gay marriage in school
Me: Actually, not one word in the proposition says anything about children and the Superintendent of CA has stated this.
Her: Well, they still could.
Me: Well regardless of how you feel we believe it's wrong and unfair to treat people differently.
Her: But it will keep on going. If gays get their rights, then other people will want rights. Where will it end?
Me: (sarcastically, but not so sarcastically that she hangs up) Right, all people will want rights.
Her: Not that people shouldn't have rights. It just has to be the right rights.
Me: Interesting. So can we count on you to vote No on Prop 8?
Her: I think I'm going to vote yes.
Me: Okay. Thank you. Bye. (hit end call button , make gagging sound)

Me: How do you feel about same sex marriage?
Her: How old are you?
Me: Um, I'm 32.
Her: No you're not.
Me: Excuse me?
Her: You're 16.
Me: No, I'm really not.
Her: You're too young to be talking about this stuff.
Me: I see. How do you feel about same sex marriage?

And a happy call!

Me: How do you feel about same sex marriage?
Him: Pretty good actually. I married my partner on June 23rd.
Me: Oh, how wonderful! Congratulations! Seriously, hearing that makes me feel really good and as a volunteer, makes me feel like all of this is totally worth it.

Occasionally, I've been known to deviate slightly from the script. But that's okay because I'm awesome.

Him: I just don't know if two gay men can raise a child.
Me: Listen. I have a doctorate in developmental psychology from one of the best universities in the country. I've read the research. And you know what? It says that a child that has parents who love her, are responsive to her needs, uphold consistent and fair age-appropriate restrictions, and are warm and nurturing are best for positive development.
Him: Well I just don't think that they could do it. I knew of these one guys and they would kiss and have sex and stuff in front of the child.
Me: (raise eyebrows) Yeah, well I could look at the home page of right now and I guarantee there's some sort of story about a kid in a well or a kid that was placed in a trashcan for two years with straight parents, but that doesn't mean that they're all like that.

And the winner!

Me: Can I speak to Lisa
Her: What is this regarding?
Me: I'm a volunteer with the No on Prop 8 campaign and we're talking about a very important issue that will be on November's ballot.
Her: Oh, you want my husband then and he's eating dinner.
Me: No, I actually want to talk to you.
Her: Okay.
Me: (reads script) Same sex marriage..... Prop 8 wrong, unfair.... everyone should treated equally...
Her: Hmm... I see what you're saying
Me: So can we count on you to vote No on Prop 8?
Her: Well to be honest, I'm just going to vote whatever my husband tells me to. He makes the decisions with voting.
Me: (?!) Okay, thank you. (shed single tear)


Liz said...

Thank you for volunteering-- people across the country are hoping that California gets this right and that our states will follow in allowing same-sex couples the same rights we straight people have.

WeezerMonkey said...

Those phone calls are incredible in all senses of the word. Kudos to your (and others') efforts. My little brother got a call the other day and was elated to have received it.

I vote no on that bathroom!

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to let you know that you can ring a bell twice for my husband and me. We voted Friday. My husband volunteered a couple Saturdays at the Long Beach office too. Thank you for your time!

lgsm said...

I can not believe that last convo you posted. Wow.

Elena said...

Thanks for the shout out! Making the calls is a lot easier than I'd imagined it would be, and I know I've made a difference with at least a few. Although not being surrounded by other volunteers and ringing bells can sometimes get lonely, I will now be able to look at these pics and be thankful that my bathroom has a floor in it :)

Ann Marie said...

You are the awesomest volunteer.

I just signed up to hopefully wave signs at high traffic spots this weekend.

Today was the first day I saw "No" campaigners across the street from the "yes" idiots. It gave me a small glimmer of hope since my town is so backwards on this issue.

A Feminist Gold Digger said...

Oh my gosh, I didn't know about the hotel bell ringing thing. Yippee! Someone from No called me yesterday and I told them not only was I of course voting no but I was on my way to a No rally! I hope my phone call gave way to some ringing!!