Another night in Oakland, another round of Prop 8 picketing. This time a couple dozen people spread out on each of the four corners at MacArthur and High Sts. in east Oakland, California leading the fight against gay marriage. The scene was, oddly enough, jumping. Lots of teenagers, some grandmas, cheering, each with a sign. The most popular were "Prop 8 = Free Speech" (that 'equal' is making it into the anti-gay marriage push holds its own irony), and "Honk if you Support Prop 8" (the intersection was as loud as a a Manhattan thoroughfare). Detractors, those with No on Prop 8 signs and vocal drivers provoked screaming ("God created Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve!"), middle fingers out of car windows, lots of pointing against windshields, a real show of humanity.
I talked to a few picketers and found out they're all from area Mormon churches. They've been picketing every night at various spots across the Bay Area. One young woman, Patricia, who's 18, said she and her church go to a different intersection most every night. I asked if she was going to vote. "Yeah, I'm voting, yes on Prop 8." Who are you voting for for president? Her response might be what surprised me the most, after the jump.
"I'm not," she said. "I'm only voting for Prop 8, nothing else, that's the only thing that's important." Seriously? She said it's so important because without it "there will be gay marriage in my church."
While it's safe to say that the Mormon Church isn't going to start blessing same-sex unions in their temples, the message she's sending is a strategic one. The Church of Latter Day Saints has all but ordered its congregants to campaign for, and donate to (the church has raised at least $10 million from its members), Prop 8's passage. From High Country News:
In June, the church's top prophets commanded Mormons "to do all you can" to work for Proposition 8 and donate money to the campaign. Mormon leaders throughout California read the instructions to their congregations, which have more than 750,000 members. Word spread everywhere in the Mormon realm. In August, the prophets added pages of elaboration: "The Church has a single, undeviating standard of sexual morality: intimate relations are proper only between a husband and a wife united in bonds of matrimony. ... Any dilution of the traditional definition of marriage will further erode the already weakened stability of marriages and family generally...with harmful consequences for society."
At least in Oakland its congregants are out in force, and there's no sign they're slowing down. "We've seen a bunch of haters," said Patricia, "but also a lot of supporters."
UPDATE: Kevin Drum looks at the latest Prop 8 poll numbers out today. "It's gonna be close, folks."