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Thursday, October 11, 2012

Shouldn't we want people to be happier? A rotation on the phone banks for R-74.

Posted by on Thu, Oct 11, 2012 at 8:45 AM

Eli has already written eloquently about volunteering at the phone banks for marriage equality (aka R-74), where volunteers sit down in a room for an hour or two while their cell phones randomly dial people across the state.

I volunteered at a phone bank last night, with a few other Stranger folks, and it was a strange and invigorating experience. As Eli pointed out, reporters cold-call people all the time. No big deal, right? But calling people to coax information out of them is one kind of difficulty. Calling people to coax information into them—that lots of gay couples already have children, for example, or that R-74 wouldn't force their churches to perform LGBTQ weddings—is a whole other kind of difficulty.

It's political Chatroulette: One call could be a super-liberal who wholeheartedly supports marriage equality and just wants to get back to her lasagne. The next call could be to some radical who believes all marriage should be abolished everywhere because marriage is inherently oppressive.

The third call could be to McChord Air Force Base where some guy rails about how the evils of homosexuality are "IN THE BIBLE! IN THE BIBLE! IT'S IN THE TEN COMMANDMENTS!"

If you mention that the Ten Commandments do not, in fact, contain an injunction against homosexuality, that guy will not listen to you. If you mention that we live in a pluralistic democracy and not a theocracy, and that any given church's religious beliefs should not be a template for state law, per the Founding fucking Fathers—and, furthermore, that the US military has spent the past decade at war with groups who believe religious belief should be a template for state law like, say, the Taliban—he will sputter but will not change his mind.

Making rational arguments tended not to work—most people I talked to didn't seem to vote with their reason. They vote with their emotions. But appealing to those emotions/better angels in a nice way did seem to work from time to time.

I was talking to a guy who sounded like he might be in his 60s. He was torn on the issue: He was a religious person who thought homosexuality was a sin, but wasn't so sure his religious beliefs should dictate everyone else's lives. (We talked about how Catholics might oppose divorce but don't struggle to make divorce illegal for everyone else.) He was split right down the middle.

We teeter-tottered in this discussion for awhile and then I said: "Well, how about this? If we have an opportunity to make people happier rather than less happy, shouldn't we take it? Shouldn't we want people to be happier?"

He seemed to like this idea, and said he'd be switching from "undecided" to "possible supporter."

If you want to play a little Chatroulette for R-74, you can sign up here.

 

Comments (12) RSS

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Sargon Bighorn 1
"Making rational arguments tended not to work" and NOW you know why the anti-equality side has been winning in ALL states were this issue is put to a vote. THINK OF THE CHILDREN is not rational, but it does work.
Posted by Sargon Bighorn on October 11, 2012 at 9:11 AM · Report this
2
"Well, how about this? If we have an opportunity to make people happier rather than less happy, shouldn't we take it? Shouldn't we want people to be happier?"

Nicely stated.
Posted by zimbo on October 11, 2012 at 9:29 AM · Report this
treacle 3
More Happiness, 2012.
That's my ticket.
Posted by treacle on October 11, 2012 at 9:37 AM · Report this
4
I think the notion of homo-sex in particular and sex in general being sinful and wrong is deeply rooted in Judeo-Christian morality. People won't give up a 2,000 year old tradition easily.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 11, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
5
@3 If greater sexual freedom actually makes people better off, then how did Christianity, with it's distinct anti-sex bias, become Europe's dominant religion.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 11, 2012 at 9:50 AM · Report this
6
@5 The last comment should have ended w/ a question mark, sorry about that.
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 11, 2012 at 9:51 AM · Report this
7
Get off your crosses, Strangers. We need the wood.
Posted by Stranger'sWorstNightmare on October 11, 2012 at 10:05 AM · Report this
MacCrocodile 8
You're stronger than I am. Just the idea of phone banking gives me a headache and makes me want to curl up and cry.

@7 - Aw, keep tryin', champ. You'll upset somebody one of these days.
Posted by MacCrocodile http://maccrocodile.com/ on October 11, 2012 at 10:23 AM · Report this
9
@5 First off if you want to understand how Europe became the world's dominant region you should read Guns, Germs, and Steel.

As for Christianity becoming the dominant religion of Europe, that has more to do with Rome converting to Christianity. A political move as much as a theological one. Of course none of this has anything to do with marriage equality, marriage at that time bore little resemblance to how we view it today.

Alas I realize all that will be lost on you. As would the observation homosexual behavior has a long history in the western world. One intertwined with the notion of Eros, in its many forms, e.g. Plato's Symposium, and Republic. Marriage on the other hand, up until roughly the 1800s, had little to nothing to do with Eros, it's primary function revolved around property. Not love, property.

If your going to hold up Christianity as your primary argument against marriage equality, that marriage is and always has been about the love between a man and a woman. I suggest you go back and look at the reason behind why Priests can't marry.

Marriage evolves it has always evolved, it has been evolving since the dawn of time. Those who don't evolve, lose.
Posted by Machiavelli was framed on October 11, 2012 at 10:44 AM · Report this
10
Making rational arguments tended not to work—most people I talked to didn't seem to vote with their reason. They vote with their emotions. But appealing to those emotions/better angels in a nice way did seem to work from time to time.


This is why I still believe the best campaign is one that humanizes those directly affected by the issue- gay couples (and their children, where they exist). This is why I'm still disappointed that WU4M's ad campaign leaves out the those directly affected by the issue in preference to other people indirectly telling their story.

Both sides can argue about abstracts like school curriculums until they're blue in the face and the audience may still not know what to believe. But you can't argue with the images of families just trying to live their life like everyone else. When you show those stories about real humans, I think you win this thing.
Posted by madcap on October 11, 2012 at 11:06 AM · Report this
11
@9 Most historians agree that the Emperor Constantine's conversion to Christianity was motivated as much by political calculation as divine revelation. However, making Christianity the empire's official religion made sense only because many Roman citizens had already converted to the new faith. Zeus was a lot more GGG than the God of Abraham. So why did people DTMFA the one for the other?
Posted by Ken Mehlman on October 11, 2012 at 2:21 PM · Report this
12
Hey I don't know if you guys noticed, but it's not the 3rd century. In terms of public policy *today*, who gives a shit why (or whether) Constantine converted to Christianity? For fuck's sake, they barely knew the earth was round!
Posted by madcap on October 11, 2012 at 10:49 PM · Report this

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