Friday, March 17, 2006

The Few, the Hateful, the Anti-SSM

Pines with their shallow roots often blow over and die in moderate storms. Similarly, the alleged strong grassroots anti-same-sex-marriage twitch (not really enough for movement) is showing its sparse support.

The bulk of Ethan Jacobs' Inner Circle Jerks in the current Bay Windows details the extreme inbreeding of the anti-SSM groups in Massachusetts. Many of this info has been piecemeal in various articles. He did a great job of showing:
  • How these groups play hide-and-seek in their overlapping finances and leaders.
  • How few and small the anti forces really are.
  • How related hatemongers like Bishop Gilbert Thompson claim to speak for 30,000, when in reality it is more likely a few hundred emotional clones.
Blah, blah, grassroots, blah, groundswell, blah blah moral outrage, blah. Read it online or even better, grab one out of a street box or in a bar or cafe. The white-board-style illustration is best on paper.

To us, the most fascinating part of this second in a series is the very weeness of anti-SSM base. The Mass Family Institute/VoteOnMarriage is overly proud of the 170,000 sigs on the current anti-SSM ballot initiative, a commonwealth petition record. It may be sour grapes to point out how about 80% of those came through bishop-mandated petitions at masses and in schools, otherwise known as coercion.

Yet the smirks may be on other mouths when voting occurs in the Constitutional Convention. It turns out that the bishops can't darken the hearts of their parishioners as easily as they can intimidate them into signing a petition.

In addition to the many polls that consistently show commonwealth voters increasingly in favor of gay rights and SSM, the anti folk can't turn out the troops. That's something legislators notice. The dullest of them can count.

Director of Boston College's Media Research and Action Project, William Gamson, tells BW that "the strength of grassroots movements, he says, can be measured by their ability to turn out crowds at major events. And here is where the anti-gay marriage movement shows its greatest weakness."

He cites last September's ConCon. At the State House, about 50 VoteOnMarriage-oids appeared next to many hundred pro-SSM, pro-civil-rights, pro-gay-right MassEquality-ites. Likewise, at the 2004 ConCon considering anti-SSM legislation, opponents had a strong showing on one day, when the Dark Side bused them in. For the next three days, hardly any anti folk were there and the halls remained full of pro-SSM people.

Gamson says this is a major indicator of who has public support. He adds, "I think the LGBT groups were highly mobilized, and they were able to turn out large numbers for these things."

The con side says, while the pro side does.

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