There’s been a palpable shift in the anger over Prop 8, going from outrage at the Mormons to criticism of the No on 8 campaign itself. The assumption is that it was a campaign that should have been won, but it lacked a coherent strategy, an effective ground game, hard hitting ads and the right leadership.
As for the latter, many bloggers are pointing fingers, charging that the leaders of No on 8 were too insular in a campaign that desperately needed more outreach to minority leaders. (Some, like the Rev. Eric Lee, from the Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, were never tapped, according to the Courage Campaign’s Rick Jacobs). Or there’s the contention that they withheld internal polling information that could have helped from giving supporters a false sense of complacency. Lorri L. Jean, the CEO of the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center, has come under fire for taking a month-long vacation during the summer. The Advocate’s Ben Ehrenreich writes, “Observers say problems were evident from the start. (Campaign manager Dale Kelly) Bankhead had never run a campaign of anything approaching this magnitude. In July, when the Mormon Church was beginning to build its organizing machine — signing up volunteers, raising money, spreading the word — key members of the No on 8 leadership were literally absent. Kors took a 2½-week vacation. Jean went to Alaska for the month. “Any time that anybody took off did not in any way have a negative impact on the campaign,” Jean says in her defense. “I’m flattered to think I was that indispensable.””
Jean, however, has offered a point-by-point rebuttal to criticisms, including the notion that the No on 8 campaign was unwilling to feature any gay couples in their advertising.
And at 6 p.m. tonight, she will be part of a “virtual town hall” on the campaign that is being moderated by IN Los Angeles magazine’s Karen Ocamb. Also on the panel is Geoff Kors, executive director of Equality California; Steve Smith, senior campaign consultant for No on 8 and the Rev. Lee, among others.
Hopefully, it will be an illuminating panel — but one that balances constructive criticism as a solution for going forward.