While talking with voters about Proposition 8, I realized several important things:
- Many people are confused about Proposition 8 or do not know what it is. As I introduced myself and began talking about the proposition, I could tell many voters were trying to size up which side I was on. A number of people wanted me to clarify whether a Yes vote was "Yes on traditional marriage" or "Yes on same-sex marriage" before they gave me an answer.
This means that the grassroots voter education movement is extremely important. People need to know exactly what they're voting for or against when they encounter Proposition 8. In this way, Attorney General Jerry Brown's biased reword of Proposition 8 may actually help the proposition more than it hurts it. Although Brown's "eliminates the right of same-sex couples to marry" phrasing casts the proposition in a negative light, it makes it clear what "Yes" and "No" votes mean.
- Proposition 8 has a good chance of passing. Very few people are undecided about Proposition 8, and opinions run strong among both supporters and opponents. At many houses I visited, voters would tell me their opinions on Proposition 8 before I even asked. This causes me to believe the outcome will be similar to that of Proposition 22, a similarly worded law that was passed by 61 percent of California voters in 2000.
Sure, things are a little different this time around. Proposition 8 would carry more weight as an amendment to the state constitution, and public sentiment seems to be more open to same-sex marriage than it was eight years ago. But will this be enough to sway the outcome? Somehow I doubt it. Our canvassing effort only sent us to the houses of registered voters, and the majority were strongly in favor of traditional marriage. I'll admit I was assigned to precincts whose demographics are socially conservative, but it was comforting to realize that many folks have not changed their minds on this issue.
- Apathy is the most dangerous opponent of Proposition 8. Because most people's minds are made up about the issue, Proposition 8 will be decided by how many people from each side show up at the polls. At that point it won't matter what the media thinks or says about same-sex marriage or even what popular opinion is on the issue. It's all decided by who registers and who shows up (or mails in their ballot). In this way, our democracy is beautiful. It requires you to care about local, state, and national affairs enough to make an effort to get to the polls. If there's any issue on the ballot that merits a supportive effort, it's Proposition 8. Please do all that you can to support its passage on Election Day.