The Power of Parents and Prop 8 — By Jenn Chrisler on Pam’s House Blend

Posted on Pam’s House Blend

Parents are undeniably proud and protective teachers of their
children, committed to making the world a better place for their
kids. I know because Iʼm the proud mother of twin eight-year-old

Based on a new report released today (, it
turns out that my peers — parents raising children, specifically
mothers-were a deciding factor in the loss of Californiaʼs
Proposition 8 battle, the measure on the 2008 ballot that took away
access to marriage equality from same-sex couples.

The extremists who mounted the campaign to steal the LGBT
communityʼs rights and dignity hit the perfect parent buttons.
Playing to every straight motherʼs fears, they aired a commercial
about a young girl who came home telling her mother what she
learned at school: a prince can marry a prince.

Our side didnʼt respond quickly, or as it turns out, very
effectively, and that, as they say, was the ballgame.

So how do we prevent the anti-gay forces from hitting these buttons
again, as they did in Maine and have since the dawn of the anti-gay

What does this mean for the LGBT community going forward and how do
we take this challenge on in a substantive way?

One thing I know for sure is that we need to put the power and
passion of LGBT parents to work for our cause of equality. Here is
the truth. Our equality – whether itʼs marriage rights,
parenting rights, equal rights in any arena – will only be
realized when those who do not know us make connections to us, to
our lives and find some common bond. We donʼt have to make the
connection with every person, but we have to forge it with at least
50 percent plus one of the population.

Forming these bonds just wonʼt happen in the heat of a campaign.
They canʼt be conveyed in a campaign commercial in a way thatʼs
meaningful and long lasting. They have to be done face to face over
coffee between friends and family. They have to happen more than
once, more than twice, maybe three times. They have to happen over
and over again until we change hearts and then minds.

LGBT parents are a completely untapped secret weapon in this work.
We can talk at play dates and in playgrounds, bedtime and bath
time, school proms and back to school. Weʼre on the ground engaged
in activities that naturally bind us with other parents. And we are
doing that with the very people who voted against marriage equality
in 2008.

“What does this mean for getting ready for future referenda on
LGBT rights?”

LGBT parents and their families should be intimately involved both
in the foundation-building public education efforts and in campaign
battle mode. We can engage people where they – and we – already
are: basketball games, PTA meetings, play dates, and Halloween
parties. The bottom line is to get parents talking to parents.
Parents can instantly identify with and more likely to listen to
other parents.

We can model the kinds of conversations we know straight parents
need to have with their children – the way LGBT parents do all
the time for the family and friends. Some of us can be more public
and be part of ad campaigns and media. (LGBT parents and their
children must become more visible in the media, to be sure.) But
the majority of us can and would be willing to engage on some level
in our daily lives, arguably as important and possibly more 

The LGBT community needs to figure out what gives LGBT parents
pause in engaging in our high-profile campaigns and challenge them
to participate. If we put the passionate power of parents to work
we will win more, including winning back the more than a
half-million parents we lost during the Prop 8 campaign. Letʼs get
to work.