Lies, Blackmail, and Family Values: The Sleazy Tactics of Yes on 8

Stop me if you’ve heard this one.


It’s bad enough that the Yes on Prop 8 campaign — the initiative to stop same-sex marriage in California — has been telling outright lies in their campaign ads. (Saying, among other things, that if Prop 8 fails and same-sex marriage is allowed to stand in California, kindergartners will be taught about gay sex in public schools, and churches will lose their tax-exempt status if they refuse to perform same-sex weddings. (Both outright lies. Both lies so ugly that even a Mormon scholar has denounced the campaign for telling them, and a group of 59 law professors has issued a joint statement detailing the falsehoods in the campaign.)

Believe it or not, it gets worse than this.

The Yes on 8 campaign has a TV ad/video running (here’s the video, properly fisked), using footage from a 1st grade field trip to their teacher’s lesbian wedding… and using it without the parents’ permission. These parents are very much against Prop 8 — the field trip to the wedding was optional, and the parents happily gave permission for their kids to attend — and they’ve written letters and given a press conference, expressing their anger that their children are being used to support a cause they so vehemently oppose… and expressly refusing their permission for their children’s images to be used in this ad.

Yes on 8 is ignoring the parents’ request, and is continuing to run the ads.

So let me get this straight. The whole point of this particular ad is that parents have rights when it comes to raising their kids. The whole point is the claim — patently false — that if gay marriage is allowed to remain legal, parents won’t be able to decide how their kids are to be raised and what values about marriage they’ll be taught.

And yet they’re using the images of 1st grade children, not only in a distortion of reality, but in direct opposition to the parents’ clearly expressed wishes.

Those are some great family values you got there, people. That’s some real respect for parents’ rights.

That’s enough reason right there to support No on 8. But believe it or not, it gets even worse.

Yes on 8 hasn’t just been telling outright lies. They haven’t just been using the images of children against their parents’ express wishes.


They’ve resorted to blackmail. sent a certified letter to several business that donated money to No on 8, threatening to expose them as opponents of traditional marriage unless they made an equal donation to Yes on 8. The letter went not only to large businesses like Levi Strauss and AT&T; it went to small businesses as well.

Just to be clear: They have a legal right to reveal those names. The identity of companies who donate to political campaigns is a matter of public record. But it is morally repugnant to link a threat of exposure with a request for money. The word for that is blackmail.

And blackmail is not a family value.

So again, let me get this straight. The Yes on 8 campaign claims to be about protecting traditional morality and traditional family values. To accomplish this, they are telling outright lies; violating parents’ rights when it comes to their kids; and resorting to out- and- out blackmail.

And this is the morality they want us to support. This is the world they want us to live in.

Okay. Now, the important part.

We can’t let this stand.

We can’t let this work.

We can’t let them win.


The Prop 8 race is very, very close. Nobody knows at this point which way it’s going to go. And it’s a hugely important race — not only for California, but for the country. California is widely seen as a political pioneer, and whichever way this election goes, it sets a precedent for the rest of the country. If same-sex marriage is banned in California, it’s going to be much harder for it to get a foothold in any other state. And if same-sex marriage is allowed to stand in California, it becomes much more clear every day that family and society is not being brought to a crashing disaster by this latest evolution in the institution of marriage… and the cause of equality gets a big, big lift. (And nobody will be able to blame it on “activist judges”.)

The amazing thing about the Internet — well, one of the amazing things — is that it makes it much, much easier for political campaigns to raise serious amounts of money in large numbers of small donations. It’s one of the main reasons behind the success of the Obama campaign, which by February of this year had raised $28 million online — 90% of which was in donations of $100 or less, and 40% of which was in donations of $25 or less.

My point: Small donations matter. Small donations add up.

No-on-8 protect marriage

If you can, please donate to the No on Prop 8 campaign. Even a small donation of $25 would make a difference. If you really, really can’t, then please, talk to your friends and family. Volunteer to do phone banking. If you can’t donate money to help No on 8 run their video ads on TV, then spread the ads directly. Write about it in your blog, and encourage your readers to make donations. Please don’t let bigots write their bigotry into the California State Constitution… and don’t let lies, blackmail, and the unwilling manipulation of children win.

Lies, Blackmail, and Family Values: The Sleazy Tactics of Yes on 8
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13 thoughts on “Lies, Blackmail, and Family Values: The Sleazy Tactics of Yes on 8

  1. 1

    I have finally posted a blog about this, and plan to donate a small sum when I get paid. The reason it took me so long to blog about it is that I know that about half of my readers are for Prop 8 (including members of my family), and I wanted to frame it in a way that was respectful enough to actually get their attention and hopefully be persuasive–this took some time. Here’s hoping…

  2. 2

    Do you know if there’s any recourse for sleazy campaigning like this? I mean, granted, distortions and even lies are par for the course in campaigns, but when it gets to the point of blackmail, they have to be breaking some laws. But even if the campaigners themselves are punished, if the proposition itself passes they still win, and they’ll still consider it to be worth it.
    I remember one case at my university where a referendum was actually called off when both campaigns were found to be using extremely dirty tactics. It seems that something like this would make sense in the case that the campaign for a proposition is doing this – they’re penalized by de facto losing until the next vote, but it doesn’t work so well for the other side.
    I suspect that there really isn’t much that can be done, or usually is, besides directly punishing the offenders. It will be a sad state of affairs if this proposition passes due to such tactics.

  3. 3

    It’s depressing to think that these tactics are very likely to work: those who BELIEVE the lies being fed to them are not the type of people to dig any deeper, to find out that they’re being lied to.
    Not many people have the intelligence required to do that kind of in-depth thinking or searching (Remember, the IQ distribution is a normal bell-curve, with 100 being the mean or average. That means that 50% of EVERYBODY – one in two people – have an IQ under 100). They don’t care about details; they don’t care about what they’ll see as slight contradictions; what they care about is the big, flashy, convincing show – these are the people who don’t ask themselves how Criss Angel tricked them into seeing what he wanted them to see. They just want to be impressed.
    Democracy, as we know it, is ultimately degenerative; you get flareups of progress, laws that give rights and dole out privileges, and then the rest of the process is tacking on caveats and addenda which’s purposes are ultimately geared towards rescinding what was given.
    It’s REALLY depressing.

  4. 4

    Greta, Hi from Chicago. I clicked on the voteno link so as to make a donation. The link appears to be faulty (or maybe my computer is). Can you check if this is the correct link of give me a direct web address please. I share your disgust w/ the tactics of those opposing gay marriage. But, nothing suprises me after these past few years of political madness. G’luck w/ the vote. I’ll be watching from here in Chicago where I was UNABLE to secure tickets to Obama’s election night shindig. (Did I actually just use the word shindig?)
    Marly Fitz

  5. 6

    Do you know if there’s any recourse for sleazy campaigning like this?

    I wrote to my lawyer friend Jon Berger with this question, and here’s what he said.
    “I doubt strongly if there’s any recourse against a political campaign for lying. That would have a pretty scary chilling effect; every campaign would turn into a massive series of lawsuits. It could easily get to the point where the failure to file a lawsuit over the other guy’s campaign claim about you would be seen as a concession of its truth. Like they say, the remedy for bad speech is good speech; if one campaign is lying, the other one can call them on it. Oh, and the press can too, although they don’t seem to choose to very often.
    “Now, if a campaign does stuff that’s independently flat-out illegal — fundraising by putting on a ski mask and soliciting contributions from banks at gunpoint, let’s say — then of course, they’re just as criminally liable as anyone else. Free speech is one thing, but it doesn’t excuse breaking laws that don’t target expression. If they actually committed blackmail, in the sense that the fundraisers in my example actually committed armed robbery, meaning that it’s more than just a hyperbolic expression for behavior you don’t like and it constitutes an actual crime, then of course they can be prosecuted for it. I wouldn’t imagine that using childrens’ images without permission is criminal, but it’s probably a civil tort of some sort, and they could be sued for that in civil court.
    “Being a political campaign doesn’t shield anyone from liability for things that are against the law, in summary. But lying isn’t generally against the law. Here, watch: I am six feet tall, weigh 180 pounds, and have a sleek, gym-toned body. The law can’t touch me for that.
    “Nullifying the results, well, that’s a tough one. I have no idea what they’d have to do in order to overturn the expressed will of the electorate. I suppose there’s a line somewhere. I mean, if you can prove that a candidate made it to a major debate by driving his car 5 MPH over the posted speed limit, I think we can probably agree that that shouldn’t be enough to get him dis-elected even if he would have been late for the debate if he hadn’t broken the law; on the other hand, if a political candidate murders his opponent, I think it’s pretty likely that he wouldn’t be allowed to enjoy the fruit of his crime if that happens to be that he wins the election by default. But where the line is drawn, I have no idea, sorry.”

  6. 7

    Yeah, I can understand that. Of course, punishing lying would just be too far. I guess I just wish other campaigners had the guts to call them on this, to make commercials expressly made to point out the lies and sleazy tactics of the other campaign, but this rarely happens. As it is, the bad speech isn’t countered and it’s allowed to stand.

  7. 8

    I guess I just wish other campaigners had the guts to call them on this, to make commercials expressly made to point out the lies and sleazy tactics of the other campaign, but this rarely happens.

    Fortunately, in this case it is happening. No on 8 has a couple of ads specifically aimed at countering the lis of the Yes on 8 campaign. There’s the Proponents of Prop 8 are using lies to scare you ad, and the Prop 8 has nothing to do with schools ad. And several of their other ads mention the fact that the Yes on 8 ads are full of lies. (Some of them are funny, too. I like the one that’s a spoof on the “I’m a Mac/ I’m a PC” ads.) Spread them if you can.

  8. 9

    Wow, I’m actually surprised to see they’re fighting back, but certainly quite pleased. I think I’ll show my respect with a donation to their cause so those ads can be spread more.

  9. 10

    Umm. Well, in this case they might be doing some things illegal. Such as a) misrepresenting a third party, b) theft of the film used, maybe, c) some class of abuse for using children/people/film, without permission, or in a way that would harm those involved. I mean, it **not** just lying here, its active abuse of people that gave no permission to be used for a purpose they directly appose.

  10. 11

    For those who cannot get to – it’s the focus of a DDOS attack, which the FBI is investigating.
    Another donation site that is not currently under attack is at the Daily Kos Orange to Blue page on the Act Blue webpage. You can get to that here: – scroll down to “Equality for All.”

  11. 12

    The part about the Prop-Hate nonsense that leaves me the most baffled is when they sound the alarum bell about religious leaders being forced to officiate same-sex marriage ceremonies.
    My question to that is: Seriously, what couple would want their ceremony conducted by an officiant who doesn’t like it?
    There’s no law that says it has to be a clergyman who does the ceremony. Furthermore, I don’t know of any couple who would like to be married by a pastor/priest/rabbi/etc. who’s holding his nose the whole time. Seriously. Some sects recognize same-sex marriage, and many individual congregations and their leaders recognize it, so if a gay or lesbian couple wants to get married in a religious ceremony, they can certainly find an officiant who’s happy to see them joined together, if they know where to look. We’re not interested in forcing acceptance down unwilling clergy’s throat. We’re much more comfortable with willing acceptance.
    As for the alarmism about kids being schooled in Teh Gay Lurve against their parents’ will: obviously they won’t be. Parents still have every right to withhold knowledge of sexuality from their children, regardless of the consequences. How can the Prop-Hate proponents keep a straight face when they bring up the “your fist ends where my nose begins” analogy? There should be no question here of who is the fist and who’s the nose. They act like their religious “rights” will be trampled if we allow same-sex marriage to continue, but really…no one is asking them to do anything differently. That’s what I find is the greatest irony in the controversy over marriage equality: it doesn’t even infringe on your right to be a bigot!

  12. 13

    To expand on what Alyson Miers said:
    I have known a few people who wanted to get married in a Catholic church, but had to do some “priest shopping” because some priests will not marry a couple unless both are Catholic, or wanted the coupe to go through some marriage counseling beforehand. (I have heard that Bahai temples are REALLY strict about this.) Some priests were happy to do it without too many conditions.
    I am not Catholic myself, but I infer form this that the priest has discretions as to whether or not they perform a marriage for a couple. So, yes, churches can say “No” already. Will Prop 8 change that either way?
    Plus, I am straight and I really have no desire to go to any church at all. I really do not care what gay people do at all. I only pay attention to gay rights because I know that the religious right would not be satisfied with controlling gay people.

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