Devastating Rolling Stone Feature Blames ‘No on 8’ Campaign For Prop. 8’s Success

In what amounts to a direct hit to the solar plexus of No on 8 Campaign leaders, the latest issue of Rolling Stone has a story called “Same-Sex Setback: Don’t blame Mormons or black voters – the California activists who tried to stop Prop 8 ran a lousy campaign” by Tim Dickinson that brings the gay community’s internal debate over the effectiveness of the No on 8 campaign to the mainstream public.

Queerty readers will recognize a lot of the criticisms– a lack of central organization, idiotic ads, failure to engage minorities and grassroots leaders, the psychotic lack of a ground game, it even compares the No on 8 campaign to the McCain campaign, which is something we do all the time here– but this is the first time a mainstream publication has tackled the issue head-on and the article is likely to shift the public debate over Prop. 8.

Let’s just go to the quotes, shall we?

“This was political malpractice,” says a Democratic consultant who operates at the highest level of California politics. “They fucked this up, and it was painful to watch. They shouldn’t be allowed to pawn this off on the Mormons or anyone else. They snatched defeat from the jaws of victory, and now hundreds of thousands of gay couples are going to pay the price.”

“From the start, the leaders of the No on Prop 8 campaign and their high-priced consultants failed to realize what they were up against. According to Geoff Kors, who headed the campaign’s executive committee, the No side anticipated needing no more than $20 million to stop the gay-marriage ban. The Yes side, by contrast, set out to change how initiative politics are played, building a well-funded operation that rivaled a swing-state presidential campaign in its scope and complexity.”

“The No on Prop 8 campaign, meanwhile, was oblivious to the formidable field operation that the other side was mounting. Worse, its executive committee refused to include leaders of top gay and lesbian grass-roots organizations, which deprived them of an army of willing foot soldiers. “We didn’t have people going door to door,” admits Yvette Martinez, the campaign’s political director. The field operation consisted of volunteers phone-banking from 135 call centers across the state, an effort that didn’t begin ramping up until mid-October.

“They had no ground game,” says a leading Democratic consultant. “They thought they could win this thing by slapping some ads together. It was the height of naiveté.”

“Until the final days, the campaign failed to take advantage of the backing of every major newspaper in the state, as well as that of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former President Bill Clinton and future President Barack Obama. In one bizarre episode, an outside consultant was forced to “jackhammer” the campaign leadership simply to convince them to make use of a robo-call from Bill Clinton. The campaign also rejected a Spanish-language ad featuring Dolores Huerta, a heroine of the United Farm Workers union.”

It really just goes on and on like this and the whole article is a must-read. The failure of the No on 8 campaign has galvanized the community in an unprecedented way and the resulting movement and nascent coalition of civil rights activists that have marched, protested and boycotted since Nov. 4th represent the new face of the gay community. While No on 8 leaders like Lori L. Jean have stood on podiums and said, “There is only one group responsible for [the passage of Prop. 8]– The Mormon Church”, we now know that is not the case, if we ever believed it to begin with.

The article ends on a positive note, pointing out that because Prop. 8 passed because of mismanagement and that the vote was close it is possible to win at the ballot box. As we previously reported, No on 8 leaders have been wary post-election to embrace another ballot fight, believing that the gay community should focus its efforts on the courts.

Of course, the question now is, “Who’s going to listen to them?”