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Sunday, November 30, 2008

A Boycott Most Foolish: "Day Without A Gay"

"Day Without A Gay." If you only read the title, you would think this was a holiday invented by homophobes. But no, December 10, 2008, has been declared "Day Without A Gay" by ... gay rights activists.

Day Without A Gay is a protest against California Prop. 8, which enshrined in the California state constitution the traditional definition of marriage. Even before passage, supporters of Prop. 8 were subjected to boycott calls by opponents, including some law professors. The Mormon Church is the latest target of protesters. Some gay marriage advocates blame Mormons for passage of Prop. 8 because of Mormons' organizational efforts. A boycott of the State of Utah and the Sundance Film Festival also is planned.

Other efforts to seek retribution for the passage of Prop. 8 include the identification of donors to pro-Prop. 8 groups, and resulting boycott of businesses, and other acts of intimidation. While boycotts long have played a part in American political life, this may be the first boycott effort aimed at a specific religious group or people who merely donated money to a political cause.

There is equally convincing evidence, however, that black ministers actively supported Prop. 8, and black churchgoers and black women in particular, were one of, if not the, decisive electoral factors. Nonetheless, there have been no protests at black churches or call to boycott black sponsored events.

Given the substantial majority that voted for Prop. 8 (roughly equal to Barack Obama's national majority), and the passage of similar propositions in Florida and other states by even larger margins, it is unlikely that reactive boycotts or intimidation will work in changing the electoral map. That is where Day Without A Gay comes in.

Day Without A Gay is intended to demonstrate the importance of gays in the economy by having people “call in gay.” According to the organizers, "Gay people and our allies are compassionate, sensitive, caring, mobilized, and programmed for success. A day without gays would be tragic because it would be a day without love."

Regardless of one's position on gay marriage, Day Without A Gay is foolish and counterproductive. A similar tactic was used with regard to illegal immigrants on May 1, 2006, and the self-boycott failed miserably. While some cities got large crowds, there was a substantial backlash against the boycott. In the end, the illegal immigrant protests did not advance the cause of illegal immigrants one iota.

There also is something self-absorbed and self-flagellating about Day Without A Gay. What message are the organizers really sending. Is it one of love, or one of anger?

And why is missing work the answer? How about going to work and doing extra community service after work, or on a weekend. The whole concept of "calling in gay" is childish and insults the very cause at the heart of the protest.

Supporters of gay marriage must realize that if gay marriage is to prevail, it will be on the strength of the arguments in court and the court of public opinion, not on threats and intimidation. "Calling in gay" is not an argument, it's an embarrassment to the gay rights movement.

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