”What’s different about this measure, as compared to the Briggs and LaRouche initiatives, is that the issue of same-sex marriage is overwhelmingly unpopular,“ says Bauman. ”The right has a simple argument, which is that they are not trying to take something away from anyone. We, on the other hand, are in the difficult position of having to dislodge voters from the central notion of the initiative. We have to focus on the greater impact of this initiative beyond the question of banning legally performed out-of-state marriages.“
Organizers from the No on Knight campaign take issue with criticisms coming from their own community, pointing to field offices in San Diego, San Francisco and Sacramento. ”You may not see the people working in phone banks across the state calling voters and educating them,“ argues No on Knight‘s Tracey Conaty, ”but dedicated people are calling, going door to door, talking to voters one-on-one, to get them to the polls to vote. Our effort is comprehensive and widespread, and, while it may not look like a spectacle, it’s tightly focused and organized.“
While she believes that her campaign stands a good chance of winning, she is worried that gays lack the magic ”silver bullet“ of support from the likes of Ronald Reagan and the Catholic Church, who came out against Briggs. Knight‘s measure has the support of the Catholic Church and conservative people of color.
Veteran activist Ivy Bottini, who led the No on 64 campaign, is critical of the lack of fire in the current campaign. ”They are running No on Knight like it’s an Assembly race.“ Yet she would not want to be leading the current campaign. ”I wasn‘t exactly running to be the No on Knight campaign manager, even though I saw the attack coming -- let’s face it, it wasn‘t a sexy issue.“
Bauman suggests that success may be keeping gays on their couches. He characterizes 1999 as a ”watershed year“ in which gays and lesbians, after 20 years of activism, saw the Fair Employment and Housing Act include sexual orientation. In addition, the nation’s first statewide domestic-partner registry was established in California. Laws were passed to protect gay and lesbian children from harassment and abuse in schools and to end a ban on adoption by gay couples. ”We did all that legislatively,“ he says, calling it ”tremendous incremental progress.“
If Proposition 22 wins, it will be a dark day in California. Says Weinstein, ”Here in California, the bastion of liberalism, we are giving the message that it‘s okay to turn the clock back, and that will no doubt embolden the thugs.“