By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Mixner offers a quirky but effective example of this toughness. In 1978, during the fight over the Briggs Initiative, the Beverly Hills Chamber of Commerce came out in support of the proposition. That same day, hairstylists throughout Beverly Hills reacted by going on strike. “They refused to cut anyone’s hair,” says Mixner, adding that celebrities like Cher also stopped shopping in town. “Within 24 hours,” Mixner recalls, “the chamber switched its position.”
According to Mark Baldassare, president of the Public Policy Institute of California, neither side of the November ballot measure has a clear-cut advantage. “California is pretty much split,” he says. A poll taken in June 2007 shows that 49 percent of the state’s voters oppose same-sex marriage, while 45 percent support it. But, Baldassare points out, the number in favor of gay marriage has increased since 2000, when Prop. 22 was passed. Back then, 55 percent of voters opposed same-sex marriage, while 39 percent supported it.
While gay-rights groups will look to tug a few heartstrings to win over voters, another strategy will be selling the economics of gay marriage — which Schwarzenegger publicly pitched on May 20. “I think we’ll see more economic benefits from [the Supreme Court] decision,” says Jack Kyser, senior vice president of the Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation, “which is good news, given the sluggish state of the economy. San Francisco will get the majority of marriage tourism. ... Obviously, West Hollywood will get a lot of visitors as well.”
Kyser says gay marriage could actually be a “big boost” for local governments. “People will stay in hotels and pay the hotel tax. They’ll eat out, they’ll buy gifts, they’ll plan parties, which will generate local sales-tax revenues.”
NINE HOURS AFTER the California State Supreme Court issued its ruling, gay men and women and their straight friends headed for the intersection of Santa Monica and San Vicente — West Hollywood’s longtime public square. Directly across from the L.A. County Sheriff’s station, with a news helicopter flying overhead and TV camera crews reporting from the streets, the crowd grew and grew as speakers stood onstage and proclaimed May 15, 2008, one of the most fulfilling days of their lives.
It was a sizable audience for the dignitaries to address, with many middle-aged couples wrapping their arms around each other. The young, fashionable crowd also showed — but not in large numbers. Maybe they were celebrating the historic decision their own way, or maybe they didn’t even know what had happened. When Mixner heard about the makeup of the crowd, he zeroed in on the missing throngs of younger people, who preferred to be at a bar, sipping an apple martini, or perhaps at a gym, building bigger biceps.
“Those are the people I’m talking about,” he notes. “They are the ones we can’t tolerate, standing on the sidelines. And I don’t think they will want to wake up 20 years from now and have their peers ask them what they were doing when this battle went down. They won’t want to say, ‘I didn’t do anything.’?”
Election Day, November 4, is 159 days away.
Click here for WeHo Reacts to California Supreme Court Gay-Marriage Ruling, by Patrick Range McDonald.