Live Blogging The No on Prop 8 Campaign’s Virtual Town Hall

UPDATED: So, after some crazy technical hurdles, we managed to live blog most of the No on Prop 8’s “virtual town hall”. As soon as the audio transcript is available, we’ll link to it. You can also expect a post on the event in the morning. Til’ then, follow our play-by-play account of No on 8: The Conference Call!

5:55pm: So, there was supposed to be a town hall tonight– and for Windows users who download proprietary software, there may very well be, but the rest of us are S.O.L. should dial in: 877 270 9470, pin: 1831.

For a campaign that’s been accused of being out of touch and needlessly hermetic, this is– seriously, we’re speechless.

If by some chance you’re able to access the meeting, let us know. It’s a theoretical “virtual town hall” Windoze only echo chamber, where leaders Geoff Kors, Lori L. Jean, Shannon Minter, John A. Pérez, Rev. Eric Lee and Steve Smith will answer your Windows users questions in what is sure to be a lively discussion something we can’t access. You can listen to the town hall along with us at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center site–that is, if you have a PC and download some Microsoft software.

6:00pm Well, we went to the site and it turns out the “Virtual Town Hall” is only accessible to Windows users. Seriously. We’re trying to find a workaround.

6:10pm There is no software available for Mac users to join the Town Hall meeting. So, I guess this means that No on 8 is a PC, no matter what the grassroots ads made during the campaign tried to say. Here’s the No on 8 campaign’s concept of a “virtual town hall”:

6:15pm: “Mac users can dial in: 877 270 9470, pin: 1831”

6:22pm: We’re in— and in time for my question! I asked about the “independent board” that will evaluate the campaign:

“Who composes the independent evaluation board? Will the No on 8 campaign commit tonight to making the findings of the independent evaluation of the No on 8 campaign public? If not, what reassurances will it give the public that they ought to support the same leaders again in future campaigns?”

Lori Jean says she doesn’t know who will be on the board and that she doesn’t think releasing the results of the board “would be wise”. Moderator Karen Ocambs’s following up now.

6:24pm: Karen asks a good follow-up about possibly releasing a redacted version of the report that doesn’t reveal future strategy recommendations and Lori basically says that she’d be open to releasing anything that didn’t make the No on 8 campaign look bad. Which is silly and stupid.

6:28pm: Polls, polls, polls! “We should have spent more money aimed at women, especially at the end” says someone (I think Steve Smith). Programming note: Amy Balliett, who runs the Join the Impact group was supposed to be on the panel but is MIA tonight.

6:30pm: Why wasn’t the campaign prepared to deal with the attacks on gay marriage as affecting kids? Geoff Kors is saying that the Yes on 8’s “Prop 8 will turn your kids gay” focus was “the number one reason” they lost. Oh, that and the teacher who called her marriage “a teaching moment.”

6:34pm: Rev. Lee is saying that “there would be even more resistance” if the No on 8 campaign made the argument that there are already plenty of gay and lesbian parents out there with kids w/o gay marriage. He believes that the gay community needs to reach out to African-American pastors and says he doesn’t get a sense that there was “a lot of outreach” to them. He also says there was no outreach to traditional civil rights groups, either.

6:38pm: Why didn’t the No on 8 campaign hitch their wagon to Barack Obama‘s Train-O-Hope and get a bunch of African American leaders to list their opposition to Prop. 8? Rev. Lee basically says, “Beats me, would have been a great idea.”

6:41pm: Geoff Kors says that “Everyone anticipated this would be a 10-15 million dollar campaign” and it wasn’t until Oct. 6th that the financial numbers for both campaigns were released. Geoff Kors says that there were paper handouts about Barack Obama and African-American leaders but their media advisors told them that Obama’s “I’m against gay marriage but also against Prop. 8” was too confusing to voters.

9:42pm: Steve Smith concurs that the Yes on 8 campaign blew them out of the water financially and they lost the early voting because of it.

9:47pm: What was the structure of the campaign? Committees upon committees is the short answer. “It was a two-tiered structure”, says Lori Jean. “We needed everybody to raise money and organize their communities.” The big committee then elected the Executive Committee: Oscar de la O, Bienestar; Maya Harris, ACLU of Northern California; Delores Jacobs, San Diego LGBT Community Center; Lorri L. Jean, L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center; Kate Kendell, National Center for Lesbian Rights; Geoff Kors, Equality California and Andy Wong of Chinese for Affirmative Action.

Lori Jean then states that you could basically buy your way into the Executive Committee with a big donation.

So, the EC became really unwieldy and the paid consultants complained that they needed a smaller, more nimble body to work with and so a “mini-EC” was created. Get all that?

6:52pm: Questions about visibility, both in the gay community and in rural areas. One questioner asks why there was no visibility at the West Hollywood Carnivale, which has a ton of straight people who come to one of the biggest gay enclaves in the country.

Lori Jean says “I don’t know what happened at the West Hollywood Halloween thing- given that was in the last few days of the campaign.” In terms of rural outreach, they hoped that rural LGBT orgs would handle that. Where they focused: Greater L.A., San Fran, San Diego, Sacramento.

Who ran the field operation? Through mid-Sept it was the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force and then later Basic Rights Oregon and Marriage Collaborative.

6:57pm: Steve Smith says “While it is frustrating in the community, tactically it was the right thing to do, making all those phone calls…It was by far the biggest field campaign in the state that wasn’t a presidential campaign.” Except tactically, you lost, so no, that’s just not true.

Karen mentions that many volunteers felt the campaign was a disorganized mess, so Smith uses this as an opportunity to mention that the proposition wording was confusing. As to the ‘mechanics’ of the field operation, nobody is taking responsibility for it! Smith says, “that’s a problem we ought to figure out and clean up…It made sense to do it on the phone, to focus on undecided voters and not focus on voters within the community…”

7:00pm: Oh gosh, they really hate Erin Carder, the schoolteacher who called her wedding “a teaching moment”.

7:03pm: Shannon Minter, the Legal Director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights says, “The reason we’ve won in courts is because of groups like Equality California” and then spends a minute or two talking about how great the No on 8 groups are. He’s talking about the upcoming California Supreme Court battle, but mainly he keeps talking about how awesome LGBT rights groups are. The case will be about whether a “bare majority” has the right to strip a minority of basic civil rights. Also, Shannon has a wonderfully deep voice. UPDATE: Which is because Shannon is a dude. My bad.

7:07pm More legal questions- Are the folks who got married before Prop. 8 passed safe? Shannon says, yes….aaaaaaaaaaand very very very slowly gets around to the fact that that’s actually one of the questions that will be decided by the California Supreme Court when it hears the Prop. 8 case. But he says that the “law on that is very very strong.” He also says if you have any problems, you should contact his group, Lambda Legal or the ACLU.

7:10pm: Shannon Minter: “We are in a fight for our lives. That’s no hyperbole…We’re going to have to fight for it and fight for it very hard.”

7:12pm: Here’s a fun question about why we can’t all just become transgender people and get legally recognized that way. Well, that’s not really the question, but its the implication. Shannon basically says that while California is friendly to trans folks, the courts usually require you to be pretty serious about your gender identity for a legal recognition of a gender change.

7:16pm: Boycotts! Good, Bad, Backlash-prone? Rev. Lee says “I’m not sure a boycott would be effective. I think we need to educate more…particuarly clergy.” He reccomends community forums, advertising in black papers and in black papers. Karen brings up Rosa Parks! We really like Ocamb’s tenacity tonight. Rev. Lee thinks that education is really what’s needed.

7:20pm: Karen asks Geoff Kors and Lori Jean about The Day Without a Gay idea but mistakes what it’s about– that is she thinks it’s about gays not buying things, where the real idea behind it is to have gay people spend the day doing public service. Lori Jean seems to have hung up. Geoff Kors says “We haven’t had a lot of effective boycotts.”

Oh, Lori is back! We don’t have a real job, so never get to be on conference calls. It’s fun. Lori’s talking about her Invalidate Prop 8 campaign which sends very annoying postcards to the Mormon Church saying that a donation has been made in their name to overturn Prop 8.

7:21pm: Is there any money left over from the campaign? Nobody knows right now. Your email addresses are going to go to all the No on 8 campaign groups and to donors over $100,000 (they get to use it as a one-time shot).

7:26pm: Geoff Kors is answering a question about a potential 2010 ballort initiative. In January, there will be a summit for anyone who wants to get involved– but groups right now, not individuals. Karen mentions Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign, who’s been a smart and effective critic of the lack of a No on 8 netroots strategy. Kors is really big on big coalitions and doing studies on what to do next. Lori chimes in that we need to have a multi-election strategy saying that 2010 “may be too soon.”

7:29pm: Lori Jean’s also making this really annoying argument that we should not pursue a ballot initiative until after the Supreme Court decision is done, because it might give the Supreme Court cause to “punt” their decision and then points out that “we never win” in ballot initiatives or votes. So basically, there’s no chance to win at the polls so we better just leave it to the courts.

7:34pm: And we end this with a “How do we promote unity?” questions and to his credit Geoff Kors says that “an important piece of doing that” is to reach out to new people and new communities. Lori Jean seconds that the community is wide and diverse and that “can be an advantage and a disadvantage.”

She hopes the January summit will include every group under the sun. She also is impressed by the grassroots energy that’s popped up after Prop 8 passed.

Rev. Lee would “like to see…more representation from different ethnicities and from the straight community. I hope we get to the point where we don’t have to talk about straight or gay, because that tends to isolate us.” He talks about doing social, political and economic outreach to develop relationships with a wider community. He points out that if black civil rights had been put to a vote there would still be segregation– and says that ultimately, the Supreme Court is going to decide this thing.

And that’s the ballgame. Just noticed John A. Perez, Member-Elect of California’s 46th was supposed to be on the call and was a no show as well.