The LGBT Mentoring Project has released a report debunking some of the conventional wisdom surrounding the Prop 8 campaign in California. For instance, after the election, “a misleading finding from exit polls led many to blame African Americans for the loss. But in our new analysis, it appears that African Americans’ views were relatively stable.” A majority of African Americans opposed marriage at the beginning and the end of the Prop 8 campaign and “[t]he shift, it turns out, was greatest among parents with children under 18 living at home — many of them white Democrats”:
The numbers are staggering. In the last six weeks, when both sides saturated the airwaves with television ads, more than 687,000 voters changed their minds and decided to oppose same-sex marriage. More than 500,000 of those, the data suggest, were parents with children under 18 living at home. Because the proposition passed by 600,000 votes, this shift alone more than handed victory to proponents.
Indeed, the report argues that “the most effective decision made by either campaign—the one with the biggest impact on the outcome—was Yes on 8’s decision to appeal to anti-gay prejudice by dishonestly alleging danger to kids.” Consider this ad:
Interestingly, the argument is so effective because it’s so familiar. Societies have long used children to deny rights to minority groups. Medieval anti-Semitism portrayed Jews as animals bent on destroying the children of the majority and accused them of murdering Christian babies in ritual sacrifices. In the late 1970s anti-gay crusader Antia Bryant organized a “Save Our Children” against a nondiscrimination ordinance in Florida, warning that “a particularly deviant-minded [gay] teacher could sexually molest children.”
It’s always been about the children and history suggests that as gay people become more prominent in society and this argument loses currency, it will be transfered to a different minority group.