So much for openness. Despite all the cries that a not-exactly-publicized meeting of top gay rights organizers on Sunday in Fresno (following Saturday’s Meet In The Middle Rally) was a beacon of democratic group thinking and transparency, the mainstream media were indeed told they wouldn’t be allowed inside the hotel meeting area when new results May polling were revealed.
We already knew there was a closed portion of Sunday’s meeting, which, depending on who you believe, was or was not supposed to remain relatively private as a whole. (Queerty didn’t hear about it, though we’ve heard about every breath and blink that organizers have made since.)
In additional to organizing things like October’s March on Washington, the Sunday meeting was also where the poll results from May’s Poll 4 Equality were revealed — and which organizers wanted to keep secret.
When the poll results were shared on Sunday, organizers disabled the wifi connection, silenced a live webcast, and instructed bloggers to keep the information offline. Looking for press photos of the event (after being told the meeting was open to the media), we couldn’t find any. Commenter Jon said, “You can’t find any press photos from any major news outlets because no outlet sent a photographer. Their choice. Not a conspiracy to black out any images under a cloud of ‘secrecy’ just a decision on their part not to cover it.” This, we now confirm, is patently false.
As for the poll data? That’s the result of Poll 4 Equality’s $85,000 price tag; it was conducted by David Binder Research and Goodwin Simon Victoria Research and paid for through contributions and budgets from over 25 gay and civil liberties organizations to see where California’s voters stood on same-sex marriage.
Of course, since the polling took place from May 8-15, the results don’t show any possible change in attitudes since the California Supreme Court handed down its Prop 8 ruling, leading some insiders we’ve heard from to believe the entire effort was a substantial waste of cash.
Meanwhile, Sunday’s event — which we’re told was announced on a listserv and then mentioned briefly at the public rally on Saturday — was not the transparent event many have claimed it to be (right here in Queerty‘s comments). But just because the poll’s reveal took place behind closed doors hasn’t kept the data from the poll from leaking to the media, reports Rex Wockner. “The polling data that activists are hoping to keep under wraps was leaked in full in late May to at least five gay- and mainstream-media reporters, none of whom has written about it yet. [Ed: An agreement by reporters to embargo the information?] The first references to it likely will appear in the Bay Area Reporter on June 4. Following the leak and the summit, a very small amount of the data was released publicly on June 2. It was unclear if the release was a response to the leak or had been planned beforehand. Prior to the release, several people from groups that paid for the poll attempted to discourage the journalists who had gotten their hands on the full data from writing about it or sharing it.”
As you told you about earlier, Poll 4 Equality’s backers today held a conference call for the mainstream media (outlets like the San Francisco Chronicle were on the call, as was Queerty, though a technical malfunction kept us from doing anything but listening) and shared some of the specifics of the poll, like methodology. Except: They have not yet decided to release the data from all 74 questions asked. Little more hard information than what Queerty already told you about was included, signaling a concerted effort to keep the specifics of the poll data under wraps.
(Listen to the full hour-long call on your right)
Theoretically, hiding the full poll data keeps opponents at an arm’s distance; organizations like the National Organization for Marriage won’t be able to whip up a YouTube spot and turn the data against activists. On the other hand, every day the poll data is protected is one fewer day organizers have to mount an effort to repeal Prop 8 in either 2010, or build an argument to wait until 2012. And while Gay Inc. might have paid for it and own the results, keeping it from the gay community at large is certain to draw more fire about exclusive, top-down leadership making the calls, a strategy many blame for the failure to stop Prop 8 in the first place.
And perhaps the most interesting reveal on today’s call? Organizers don’t even have a deadline to set a deadline on when they’ll decide whether to push for a 2010 repeal of Prop 8 or let it wait until 2012. That decision, we’re told, is coming.
(Attendees on the call included: David Binder, Binder Research; Amy R. Simon, Goodwin Simon Victoria Research; Tawal Panyacosit, API Equality; Lester Aponte, Honor PAC; Ange-Marie Hancock, Jordan Rustin Coalition; Molly McKay, Marriage Equality U.S.A.; Marc Solomon, Equality California; Mike Bonin, Courage Campaign; Matt Palazzolo, Equal Roots Coalition; Nick Velasquez, F.A.I.R; Kerry Chaplin, California Faith for Equality. Sarah Reece from National Gay and Lesbian Task Force could not be on the call.)
(Photos: Los Angeles Times)