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Posts for November, 2010

Not a good night for NOM

Timothy Kincaid

November 2nd, 2010

The Republicans picked up significant gains in the midterm election, gaining control of the House of Representatives, and bringing the Senate to within a few votes. This is not good news for the prospect of having issues of inequality addressed in the next two years.

However, this change in the direction of power was not a mandate for social conservatives. Indeed, it was those Republicans who made the most of their socially conservative credentials who fared least well. Christine O’Donnell lost miserably, as did Tom Tancredo, while Tea Party and Republican candidates that minimized or refused to discuss their positions on social issues attracted support.

But no indicator seems to have been more consistent this election than the extent to which a candidate was supported by the National Organization for Marriage. If you were a Senatorial or Gubernatorial candidate whom NOM supported, it seemed to be the kiss of death.

In New Hampshire, NOM has ran an anti-Lynch campaign for two years, and has ratcheted up the anti-Lynch television ads going into the election. Lynch just won his fourth consecutive election, a feat not accomplished for the past 200 years.

In California, NOM sponsored a bus tour for senate candidate Carly Fiorina, encouraging Latino voters to “vota tus valores“. Not only have the networks called this election for Barbara Boxer, Latinos found Fiorina’s valores not to be their valores by two-thirds.

NOM sued the state of New York in hopes of running anonymous ads in favor of Carl Paladino. Paladino’s homophobia sunk his campaign and he ended up pulling but 35% of the vote leaving Cuomo – a marriage support – one of the strongest winners of the night.

In Minnesota, NOM ran radio ads for Tom Emmer claiming that “Mark Dayton and Tom Horner want to impose gay marriage with no vote of the people.” Although Minnesota has not been called, Dayton is 7% ahead of Emmer with 85% of the vote counted.

This kiss of death is consistent with results of NOM’s electioneering in the District of Columbia during their primary. It would seem that using gay couples as a fear tactic seems to have peaked and dissipated.

This is not to say that NOM will not have any causes for celebration. The efforts to reject three supreme court justices in Iowa who were part of the unanimous decision to recognize gay Iowans as protected by the state Constitution, appears to have succeeded. Each appears to have only 46-47% support. Expect NOM to claim this as a clear mandate that the “people of Iowa have spoken” and that they don’t like their gay neighbors so much. NOM was not, however, successful in their effort to oust the Polk County judge who first found for marriage equality.

And NOM’s very own Andy Pugno – the attorney for the Prop 8 campaign – is running for state assembly in California’s 5th Assembly district. At present the vote is too close to call.

All in all, while NOM’s vindictive smearing of the Iowa justices may have proven effective (and may well prove to bring a chilling effect to future legal battles), we can say that they were big losers tonight.

UPDATE: 10:28 pm PST. LA Times:

With more than half the votes counted, Democrat Richard Pan holds a 51% to 45% lead over Republican Andy Pugno in a seat currently held by Republicans.

Not only may Pugno’s repugnant attack on gay couples have cost him the 5th Assembly seat, it may actually move the Democrats in CA closer to a supermajority. NOM must feel so proud.

Valores tour Days 5, 6, and 7

Timothy Kincaid

October 4th, 2010

On Friday, the Vota Tus Valores tour continued with its $1-million bid to win votes for Carly Fiornia. It wasn’t a happy day.

Day 5, Stop 1: Santa Cruz (Mercury News)

The dozen or so protestors, who met the bus at its scheduled stop at the Santa Cruz Mission, outnumbered supporters. The protestors organized when they heard the bus was coming to town and accused tour leaders of trying to mislead Latino voters.

They noted, for example, how Fiorina supports Arizona’s new crack-down on illegal immigration.

“We are here to unmask candidate Fiorina who in reality is not with the Latino community,” Erik Larsen, an SEIU organizer said in a statement.

The confrontation between the two groups was noisy, but without incident.

Day 5, Stop 2: Hollister (Courage Campaign)
This little city is known not for a clothing line (which is Southern Californian) but for its agriculture. One of my first professional tasks was doing an inventory of a seed distributor in Hollister thus, ironically, starting my career as a bean-counter all too literally.

In Hollister, the Vota Bus was greeted by an even larger crowd of SEIU and LGBT equality counter-protesters – 24 in total.

Alfonso showed more signs of frustration at this stop. “I know you’re being paid,” Alfonso said to the crowd dismissively.


Day 5, Stop 3: Salinas
(The Californian)

A busload of social conservatives tailed by a van full union members and another of progressive advocates are California’s unlikely caravan battling for the Latino vote.

On Friday, they rolled into the Salinas Valley.

The conservative “Vote Your Values” campaign, which supports Republican U.S. Senate candidate Carly Fiorina, stopped at Central Park in Salinas to remind Latinos that Democrats are pro-choice and support gay marriage.

The fight over the Latino vote turned into a shouting match between the two sides with few undecideds to hear. The victorious could win the races for the senate and governor.

The roughly 30 union members in attendance out-numbered the group from the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles by about two to one.

Alfonso Aguilar, the group’s executive director, used a microphone to push Latinos to vote for Republican senate candidate Carly Fiorina, but the jeers and chants of “si se peude” nearly drowned him out.

Day 5, Stop 4: Soledad

In Soledad, Pastor Richard Ramos inspired the eight people who had been bused in. You can hear him here.

Day 5, Non-Stop 5: Pasa Robles

Day 5, Non-Stop 6: Santa Maria

The NOM sponsored tour decided to skip the last two stops of the day. This may have been a poor choice, as Courage Campaign reported that there were no protestors and quite a few local Latinos at their planned stop locations.

By this point, Valores has skipped or relocated about as many scheduled stops as they have honored. Perhaps that is why their website has now removed all of the planned stops prior to today.

And on to Saturday, Day 6.

Day 6, Stop 1: Santa Barbara

In Santa Barbera, the Valores tour made the last-minute unusual (and bad) decision to have the first “rally” at their hotel. Sadly, they forgot to tell the press. (Courage Campaign)

Rather than actually get up and engage voters in Santa Barbara, organizers opted instead to host a “private meeting” with bagels and coffee in a conference room provided for free by the hotel.

Tour organizers looked shocked when we arrived at the hotel.

“This is a private meeting,” one organizer quickly said.

“It was advertised on the website,” I replied.

“It was?” asked a new organizer on the tour (he won’t confirm his name so we’ve just been referring to him as “Country Club” because he always looks ready to play golf).

“Yes [it was posted],” confirmed Allegra Herburt-Hewell, Project Director for the Latino Partnership Initiative.

As I sat down for “the meeting” a different organizer began communicating in Portuguese (we believe) with Allegra.

We were then told by Country Club just before being asked to leave that the meeting was posted for people who were invited.

A photographer and reporter from the Santa Barbara Press were at Mission Park, the original set location, and luckily were able to get in contact with Allegra and make it to the Best Western Inn in time for the last minute “meeting.”

I was unable to find anything mentioning the tour on the Santa Barbara News-Press website.

Day 6, Stop 2: Camarillo

In Camarillo, we stopped at a private parking lot that included Bank of America, as well as “Nueva Vida”, a Spanish-Christian radio network, for an event.

Courage Campaign doesn’t discuss how well the event went, but a picture suggest that there were a dozen or so listening.

Day 6, Non-Stop 3: Dana Point

The bus was unable to go the the Ritz Carlton, where they were scheduled. But it turns out that their purpose was not really to draw up a crowd anyway. (Orange Juice)

At some point yesterday they erased the Ritz-Carlton “event” from their schedule. Were they trying to throw us off, or had they actually realized that there are no Latinos in that area to convert to the gospel of hate and free markets? Turns out it wasn’t really supposed to be on the schedule in the first place – the fancy beach-side hotel is just where the lucky bus-riders were put up for the weekend – where they’re cooling their heels as I write, in fact, on their Sunday “Day of Rest,” at the expense of some foolish GOP “independent expenditure.”

Day 6, Stop 4: Huntington Beach

So, I got to the good old HB pier early – my home town – with four or five other protesters, and my two freshly-made Spanish-language signs, “Nuestros valores no incluyen odio!” (Our values don’t include hate) and “Carly Fiorina no es tu amiga!” (You can figure that one out.) Dawn, who’d been involved in this longer than the rest of us, was in phone contact with the other Courage Campaigners. Evidently the hate bus was winding erratically up and down PCH, trying to evade its critics. After a while it finally dropped anchor at 6th Street and Main, 3/4 mile from its supposed destination, so we set off on foot to meet it.

By the time we got there, they were just pulling away, heading off back to their comfy hotel in Dana Point for an early start on their weekend of rest, having done all they could for Princess Carly, and utterly uninterested in making human contact with any Huntington Beach people critical or not. Windows closed as always, AC blasting, the bus looked exactly as pictured above. It may just as well have been manned by only a driver rather than the dozen Hispanics and several white NOM homophobes who were apparently hidden inside. But at least Carly and her backers are providing some lucrative temporary employment for these malinches.

And what scared the little group away from Surf City so quickly? It wasn’t so much the dozen or so pro-gay protesters, as it was a man named Don Fuller, a small, well-dressed, very articulate, “Conservative Republican” who had driven all the way from Corona just to ask these people how exactly the Constitution and Declaration of Independence justify denying equal rights to gays, and how they can possibly consider themselves conservative if they believe that. These were questions that they were completely, and mortifyingly, incapable of answering.

And that was it for the weekend. After a day of rest (actually, not at the Ritz Carlton as it turns out, but at the Hyatt Regency Resort and Spa in Huntington Beach) the tour was on to present NOM’s valores today. And, surprise of all surprises, it will actually be NOM presenting them.

Brian Brown, president of NOM, and Jennifer Roback Morse, president of The Ruth Institute, a project of NOM’s Marriage Education Fund, will both be supporting the bus tour as it makes its way around California. Dr. Morse will be at the San Diego stops on Monday, October 4.

I suppose that since they aren’t engaging any Latinos, it doesn’t much matter if their speakers are non-Latino folk who don’t speak Spanish.

Day 7 Stop 1: Santa Ana

The Santa Ana stop had more Victory Outreach members (it now seems there is a bit of a partnership going on).

15 members of the Victory Outreach ministry were present, along with 14 pro-equality counter-protesters.

But in addition to a little campaign stop, NOM & crew also had a little bit of trouble. (Courage Campaign)

Our videographer, Anthony Ash, was just assaulted by a man associated with the Vota Tus Valores tour. The Vota Tus Valores bus stopped at 17th & Main in Santa Ana, in front of the James G. Roche law firm, which is where today’s rally location was held (more on the Roche law firm later). Anthony was wearing a press pass, holding a small Flipcam and walking next to the private parking lot towards the Vota Tus Valores Bus when approached by an older Latino man (seen below) who said that our Trackers were on private property.

The man, who claimed to be the owner of the property, angrily told Anthony that this was private property, and quickly struck Anthony in the arm, knocking the camera to the ground. Our tour camera has been damaged, and we’re not sure that footage can be recovered.

It turns out that Vota Tus Valores’ main spokesman, Alfonso Aguilar, has just joined the James G. Roche law firm. Actually, as best I can tell from their website, he’s the only person working for the James G. Roche law firm.

Day 7, Stop 2: Oceanside

After we completed the filing of the police complaint in Santa Ana, we were lucky to catch up with the Vota Bus in Oceanside at Camarillo Park. One non-Latino supporter of the Vota Bus was present as organizers didn’t even bother to pull out the sound equipment. It appeared as though organizers were merely taking a stretch break while talking to the man who was holding a small video camera.

Day 7, Stop 3: Escondido

In Escondido, six men from the Victory Outreach ministry were bused in, joined by two other supporters of the Vota Bus

And the star power was brought to full use.

Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse from the Ruth Institute was handed the microphone and gave a short speech on life and traditional marriage before handing out “one man, one women” bumper stickers to the small crowd.

Day 7, Stop 4: Rally in San Diego

This is scheduled to take place at 7:00 pm at Communidad Christiana Nam. I can hardly wait to hear about it.

Tus Valores gets supporters

Timothy Kincaid

October 1st, 2010

The National Organization for Marriage sponsored Vota Tus Valores tour picked up some support yesterday. They had Latinos there to support Carly Fiorina and her anti-gay values in Stocton and in Modesto and in Fresno. Too bad they were all the same people just moving with them from stop to stop. (Courage Campaign)

Day 4, Stop 1: Stockton

Twenty minutes after 10 AM, the Vota Bus finally arrived at Weber Point park in Stockton with three large vans filled with 42 (predominantly Latino and male) members of an organization called Victory Outreach, a Christian men’s group that does outreach in inner-city communities. Three local equality supporters also stopped by to check things out.

Day 4, Stop 2: Modesto

In Modesto, Tus Valores took what they called “a beautiful impromptu stop at a Market in Modesto” with their bus and three vans full of Victory Outreach men.

Day 4, Non-stop 3: Merced

Rather than show up at Applegate Community Park, Tus Valores decided to stop for enchiladas. Which is unfortunate because it looks like they missed the chance to meet a supporter – and with the “crowds” they are drawing, everyone counts.

Four equality supporters stood in a near empty park (one Latino man and his son were there) in Merced.

They even had a few folks show up specifically to see the bus.

Later three women and a young girl (all Caucasian) stopped at the park for the “Susan B. Anthony” event.

“Where’s the bus?” one woman asked. “Why aren’t there any people here?”


Day 4, Stop 4: Fresno

In Fresno, nine members of the Victory Outreach ministry were bused to Vallarta market and received literature from the Vota Tus Valores organizer.

Three counter-protesters were present, although only one was vocal, chanting “no es vertad” (“that’s not true”) as Alfonso and Karyme made their speeches to the small crowd.

Day 4, Stop 5: Los Banos

One of the few things I know how to say in Spanish is the useful phrase, “¿dónde están los baños, por favor?” (where are the bathrooms, please?) So I was surprised to see that the Valores tour would announce an official tour stop at Los Banos.

Well it turns out that this is the name of a town in California. We have some really bizarrely bastardized Spanish place names in this state, but “Los Banos”? Really? I can only imagine what teasing the locals get. (And get your mind out of the sewer, the mascot of Los Banos High School is “the tigers”)

On their was to Los Banos, the bus made an unexpected stop. Karyme Lozano, Mexican telenovela star, was getting off the bus and going home. Karyme was the “celebrity” draw.

Lozano had been a supporter of the community and had even been the “queen” of the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade in 2008. But then her father died and she had an epiphany. She abandoned her “wild life” and embraced religion. She has since taken on celibacy and is encouraging “her gay friends” to do so as well.

However, it seems that she wasn’t exactly aware the extent to which NOM has taken on the role of oppressor of gay people or the extent to which they fund anti-gay activism. And she was clearly unaccustomed to being thought of as a bigot or hateful. (Funny how people who can dedicate a week of their life to opposing our equality are hurt when we don’t accept them as benevolent or just as having “another opinion”. I wonder how she would feel if I spent a week traveling to deny her rights.)

Once they got to Los Banos, they were greeted by seven supporters. So this was one of their more successful stops on one of their more successful days. But news reports from Santa Cruz suggest that today was not so fun for the Vota Tus Valores tourists.

(Ugh… now I’ve got ¿dónde están los baños, por favor? playing in my head to the tune of Do you know the way to San Jose?)

NOM’s “Valores” tour draws protesters

Timothy Kincaid

September 30th, 2010

Yesterday, the National Organization for Marriage’s “Vota Tus Valores” bus tour to drum up Hispanic vote for Carly Fiorina finally drew a crowd. Of protesters.

We already discussed their first stop for some Jelly Belly goodness. So we’ll pick up from there (Courage Campaign)

Day 3, Stop 2: Napa

In Napa, 32 counter-protesters greeted the Vota Bus tour with chants of “more jobs, more jobs.”

The face of the tour, Alfonso, was uncertain what to do when faced with a sea (or at least a pond) of Barbara Boxer signs and nary a single Carly Fiorina supporter. But, just for his info, trying to lecture or out-shout protesters just isn’t a very effective use of time. And no one sounds good with such zingers as “If you’re sick of killing babies, you better vote for Carly.”

Day 3, Non-Stop 3: Concord
Day 3, Non-Stop 4: Alameda

Rather than make the two scheduled stops, the Valores tour stopped for lunch and tequila shots. Which is probably just as well as this is what was waiting for them at the scheduled Alameda stop.

Day 3, Stop 5: San Jose

In East San Jose the Carly bus did not go over well.

Napa may have been the first stop where an organized oppositional counter-protest came out to greet the Vota Bus, but East San Jose was clearly the most vocal. When we arrived there were approximately 34 counter-protesters, mostly Latino.

Day 3, Stop 6: San Mateo

While San Jose’s protest was predominantly a Latino objection to Carly Fiorina, in San Mateo the protest was led by those supporting gay equality.

In San Mateo, the Vota Bus was met by 14 equality counter-protesters from organizations like PFLAG and Marriage Equality USA. Tour organizers made marginal attempts to engage about 4 people who were sitting in the local park and two of the volunteer organizers attempted to have a civil discourse with two of the equality supporters.

You have to wonder what Fiorina’s camp was thinking. This is a three-fer, not only does this tour annoy the Boxer supporters, but it also challenges the established Latino political machine and the gay supporters. Any other combination and they might have raised no attention at all, but this message coupled with this partnership was almost guaranteed to result in negative press.

And portraying yourself as a social conservative extremist is not a good idea in California. When we elect Republicans, we want them to be of the moderate variety. There hasn’t been a socially conservative Republican elected to Governor or Senator since George Deukmejian was re-elected in 1986.

NOM’s “Valores” tour has a sweet start today

Timothy Kincaid

September 29th, 2010

Today the National Organization for Marriage’s tour to whip up Latino support for Carly Fiorina got off to a sweet start. At the Jelly Belly jellybean factory. Where they were told not to pass out materials or approach other customers.

Day 3, Stop 1: Fairfield

But they did get to go on a tour of the factory and get free samples, so that’s something.

This is it for now, but check this commentary later as Courage Campaign updates the third day in the “Vota Tus Valores” tour. Who knows, at some point they may actually find a Latino voter who supports Fiorina and you wouldn’t want to miss that.