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Fall 2008, Kira Gilmore, Past Students

Proposition 8 Spurs a New Wave of Youth Activism With Online Campaign Strategy

By Kira Gilmore

Both sides of the campaign for and against Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage, effectively energized many college students to become political activists, through the use of YouTube videos, Facebook postings and other new media geared toward younger people.

Ricky Cervantes, a recent San Diego State grad and active member of the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender) community, found the youth involvement in Proposition 8 incredible. “There is a new wave of activism that has emerged,” he says. “Many of these were people that would have never gotten involved before.”

A group called HomoTracker produced a series of “No On Prop 8” ads spoofing Apple’s Mac vs. PC commercials, replacing the hip Mac with the “No On Prop 8″ position and the traditional PC with the “Yes.”

Also honing in on the Apple trend, iProtectMarriage.com targets teenagers and young adults both from secular and faith backgrounds, from Christian to Jewish, Mormon to Muslim.

Miles McPherson, senior pastor at San Diego’s The Rock church and a former Charger player, says the site aims to reach out to all young voters, especially those who support same-sex marriage for what he calls “the wrong reasons.” Those reasons, he said, include worries about being labeled a bigot and the idea that one would be betraying a gay friend or family member.

The website has a video message from McPherson called “The Fine Line.”

“We’re going to talk about how to walk that fine line of being in the world- living in San Diego, living in California, living in America and having the culture go against the Bible and yet staying strong for the Bible,” he says in the message.

According to McPherson, Prop 8 was not a fight against people, it’s a fight against rules and procedures. “It’s way bigger than two people just loving each other, because if love is the only criteria than anything will go.”

San Diego State student and member of the College Republican organization Jordan Blevins, drew the line a bit differently. “Here’s the thing- me personally, I’m Christian, and I have a morality and I believe in traditional marriage,” he said. “But then again I look at it from a society perspective and it think that for me to be against it is my own person thing, but I have a big problem dictating morality onto other people. I don’t think we should do that.”

Blevins says he isn’t alone in his stance. He says many young Republicans are more socially liberal than the older members of the political party. “It’s a different generation,” he says. “[The SDSU College Republicans] had a meeting the other day, and a lot of people are very libertarian-esque. Which is the idea that fiscally they’ll be more conservative but socially liberal. You know, let things happen as society dictates. It’s a democratic system- you vote for it.”

Despite the younger Republican’s social views, Kayla Bruneau, a member of SDSU Democrats says the campus still had many people in favor of the proposition. “You’d be surprised how many young kids on campus are hardcore ‘Yes on 8,'” she says, adding that even though some are Democrats, they have religious beliefs that are inconsistent with gay marriage.

“It’s the people who don’t see the bigger issue. They only focus on the small issue of a man marrying a man or a woman marrying a woman,” Bruneau says. “They don’t see that if you eliminate the rights in general, it’s wrong. Everyone’s equal- it shouldn’t matter.”

SDSU senior Lisa Gabourie, who was raised Catholic, was in favor of the ban but says it’s tough to decide what is exactly right and wrong. “I have nothing against two people of the same gender loving each other, but I just am a little bit uncomfortable with redefining the term ‘marriage.'”

She says she does feel like her stance on the topic is in the minority among her peers, but she is not surprised. “College campuses are always pretty liberal…it’s just the way it is,” she says. “I try not to get involved in debates over it, but if it happens and people start mentioning personal freedoms and whatever I just tell them that it’s my personal freedom to vote.”

Unlike Gabourie, Cervantes debates the topic as much as he can. “Discussions amongst my friends have changed as we often will discuss this issue. I think for the first time in their lives they saw that a right could actually be TAKEN away from them and it became personal,” he says. “I talk to anyone I can about how bad Prop 8 is and do what I can to be involved.”

The passage of the proposition has prompted numerous local, statewide, and national protests. Hundreds of students staged a walkout at the University of California San Diego on Nov. 14 to oppose the ban.

“Scores of young people are organizing marches, protests and rallies,” Cervantes said. It is an exciting grass-roots effort to see!”

Cervantes says he is staying optimistic. “Prop 8 will be overturned somewhere, somehow. In the meantime, we will watch this incredible new breed of activists fight for the overturning of 8.”

Timeline

1850-1977: California’s marriage statutes used gender-neutral language, without reference to “man” or “woman,” in providing that marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of the parties capable of making the contract is necessary.

1948: California became the first state court in the country to strike down a law prohibiting interracial marriage, as it recognized marriage as a fundamental right. The U.S. Supreme Court did not invalidate the laws until 1967.

1977: California’s marriage law was amended to limit marriage between a man and a woman, as the previous gender-neutral definition of marriage could permit same-sex couples to marry and have access to equal rights.

1999: Assembly Bill 26 passed and marked the first time a state legislature created a domestic partnership lawwithout the intervention of the courts.

2000Proposition 22 passed, formally defining marriage in California as being between a man and a woman.

2003The California Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act passed, creating the presumption that domestic partnerships were to have all the same rights and responsibilities as spouses. The law didn’t come into effect until 2005.

2004: San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the city and county of San Francisco. The 3,995 marriages were annulled by the California Supreme Court, but San Francisco began a legal challenge that was consolidated with other cases as In re Marriage Cases.

2005: California state legislature passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act, which would have recognized same-sex marriage in California. It was vetoed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

2005ProtectMarriage.com announced that it would try to place a constitutional amendment on the June 2006 ballot to define marriage as an institution between a man and a woman, but didn’t collect enough ballots.

2007: Gov. Schwarzenegger again vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.

2007: ProtectMarriage.com filed the “California Marriage Protection Act” initiative, which would eventually become Proposition 8. The title of the initiative was later changed to “Limit on Marriage. Constitutional Amendment.”

May 15, 2008: The California Supreme Court, by a vote of 4–3, ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. It also held that individuals of the same sex have the right to marry under the California Constitution.

June 2, 2008: Proposition 8 qualified for the November 4, 2008 election ballot.

November 4, 2008: Proposition 8 passed.

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