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“If Latinos were playing such an important role "in the presidential campaign,” Zaldivar says, “what was the No on 8 strategy?”
Three weeks before Election Day, a No on 8 office was finally opened in East L.A. but not by the No on 8 campaign. It was operated by a Latino group called Honor PAC, which raises money for gay and gay-friendly Latinos.
Says Luis Lopez, of Honor PAC, “We were not a part of the campaign. We were not a part of the planning. So we asked ourselves what could we do.”
The office drew more than 500 volunteers and made more than 10,000 phone calls. Honor PAC reached out to every Latino politician in California, asking for their endorsements.
No on 8 political director Yvette Martinez insisted to L.A. Weekly that the Honor PAC office was, in fact, a No on 8 operation and blames a “lack of resources” for not opening it earlier. Not so, says Lopez, who describes the office as an “in kind contribution” to the No on 8 campaign. No on 8 did pay for some phones and materials, Lopez says, but Honor PAC ran it, not No on 8.
Martinez later amended her claim, saying the East L.A. office was a “joint effort.” Under the gun for what appears to be a failure to address black and Latino opposition to gay marriage, Martinez is defensive. She describes Zaldivar’s accusations as “false” and “untrue,” and then accuses him of working for the No on 8 campaign, by making calls and hitting the streets. Zaldivar, taken aback, says he jumped in on a volunteer basis. “I did whatever I could to stop Proposition 8,” he says.
In South Los Angeles, Jeffrey King and other activists talked with No on 8 staffers about how to approach black churches. “We said, ‘You can’t go in and tell churches to change their doctrine.’?” He and fellow activists advised campaign leaders to stop comparing the gay rights movement to the civil rights movement.
“People feel you minimize their experience, which took place over hundreds and hundreds of years, to a relatively new movement,” King explains. Instead of heeding the advice, the No on 8 campaign, according to King, stopped working with them.
“They knew they needed to work with us,” he says, “and they didn’t. They went over us.”
King thinks the No on 8 campaign gave up on wooing blacks, despite knowing Barack Obama was going to generate a huge African-American turnout. “They should have targeted the black vote no matter what, because of Obama,” King says.
Martinez referred questions about No on 8’s strategy with black voters to Andrea Shorter in San Francisco. Shorter said she was a volunteer, only in the Bay Area and knew nothing about black-voter outreach in Southern California.
Kors, based in San Francisco, says Zaldivar and King have it wrong. “(The black and Latino votes) were always a focus of our work,” he says. But, “In the short span of a campaign, your decisions are based on what voters you can move.”
Miki Jackson believes the No on 8 campaign “ran the campaign in an elitist way .??... They didn’t do any outreach, it was remarkably insular, and there was an enormous amount of preaching to the choir.” Zaldivar and King also used the word “elitist” to describe what they saw.
Jacobs wants Jean, Kors and the full No on 8 executive committee to take some blame. “Yes, there were lies and deceptions by the other side, but the leaders of the [No on 8] campaign have an obligation to say they messed up,” Jacobs asserts.
Zaldivar says the leaders of No on 8, “need to take ownership of the election results. They should not blame anybody but themselves.”
Max Taves also contributed to this story.