Friday, November 14, 2008

Good for Prop 8 Boycotts

I've started to see some notices on demonstrations and boycotts for businesses that contributed to Prop 8 in California.

More than a week after the passage of Proposition 8, activists opposed to the ban on gay marriage have shifted their protests to new arenas -- using boycotts to target businesses and individuals who contributed to the winning side.

The effect of the boycotts remains unclear. Merchants said that the overall poor conomy made it difficult to tell whether their businesses were declining specifically because of the threats. But the protests have been highly visible and have drawn strong objections from backers of the initiative.

For those RSI readers unfamiliar with Prop 8, it was a ballot initiative in California to take away marriage rights of gay people that had recently been recognized by the courts. The initiative passed 52-48. At its core, Prop 8 is an ugly act of bigotry that is much like the Jim Crow system of racial segregation. Just as Jim Crow rescinded rights for African-Americans that had been established in the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendments to the Constitution, Prop 8 took away a fundamental right of marriage for gay people that had been recognized by the California Courts. Now California is once again a state where gay people are not recognized as equal citizens, not afforded equal treatment of the law, and are symbolically branded as people who must not be allowed to marry.

During the Prop 8 campaign, gay activists organized a group called Californians Against Hate to target the major donors to the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign by boycotting their businesses. After the approval of the Prop 8 discrimination against gays amendment to the California constitution, Californians Against Hate expanded their activities to demonstrating in front of Mormon temples and the car dealerships of major donors to the "Yes on Prop 8" campaign as well as boycotting the businesses of even small donors.

Good for Californians Against Hate.

As people who have been denied their fundamental rights, it's important for gay people to stand up for themselves and take the fight to those who work to deny them their rights. That's what Californians Against Hate is doing--taking the struggle for gay civil rights to the doorsteps of the people who are persecuting them.

In doing this aggressively, gay people also serve as a role model for African-American activists, Hispanic activists, feminists, and the leaders of other groups that experience pervasive mistreatment. Since the 1980's, Act Up and other gay activist organizations have done tremendous service to gay people (and all people) by being constantly provocative and getting in the faces of everybody who was waffling on gay rights. That's the main reason why gay rights activists have gained so much ground while other causes have stagnated. Californians Against Hate is another example of gay activists pushing forward and everybody else should be thinking about how to emulate them as well.

As for the feelings of the people being targeted by the boycotts and demonstrations. I care just as much for their feelings as they care for the feelings of all the gay people who want to get married but can't.

In other words, I don't care at all.

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