Assembly Judiciary Committee Ignores California Voters

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See Your Legislators Cancel Your Vote in this Video…

Ok Beetle Blogger readers, I’m back! We drove in from Sacramento just a few minutes ago…That’s a long drive from L.A.! One of my readers emailed me her account, so I’m going to post that first. This is from mommyspy:

“I am a proposition 8 supporter and I went to the HR5 hearing at the capitol this morning. I was there an hour early and barely got into the hearing room in the balcony section. I understand that the two overflow rooms were also filled and they set up a third overflow site in the basement cafeteria. It was obvious from the time I stepped onto the capitol block that EQCA (the San Francisco based organization to overturn prop 8) was well organized and was there en masse. They all wore big buttons to identify themselves and they had representatives at each sidewalk entrance, each elevator door, and each main walkway to assist people in finding the hearing room. It actually helped me a lot as I am unfamiliar with the layout of the capitol building. As I found my seat I realized how prepared EQCA was. In the actual hearing room I was definitely in the minority. The audience was about 90% EQCA members. Each of their “bussed in” attendees had a folder with copies of the resolutions, a talking points sheet, and lots of other good information so they could speak informatively and persuasively about their point of view. Their event was called LOBBY DAY and their website claims 2000 members registered for the event. The intent was to attend the hearings and then have their people meet with different assembly and senate members to lobby for their issue. The reality was that the legislature has been in lock down mode for several days because of the budget and didn’t have time or attention for talk about prop 8. The HR5 hearing was limited in time because the entire assembly was meeting to discuss the budget at noon. The hearing for the Senate resolution was canceled for the same reason.

The hearing started out in “rally mode” with the EQCA members intending to clap and shout and vocally support their point of view, but the judiciary committee chairman, Mike Feuer (D – Los Angeles) took a leadership role and made it clear that in the hearing room there would be no vocalizations and all speakers would be heard with respect. He did an excellent job of keeping order during the hearing.

The resolution was authored by rep Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco). He said “This resolution speaks directly to the fundamental rights of same-sex couples to have equal protection under the Constitution. We are asking the California State Legislature to go on the record to not only support the repeal of Proposition 8 but to also support the basic rights of all Californians”.

Assemblymember Mike Feuer (D-Los Angeles), Chair of the Judiciary Committee stated, “Today, I am proud to join my colleagues in speaking out on the key civil rights issue of this generation. California’s most cherished principle – equal treatment under the law, which includes the right to marry – must remain enshrined in the California Constitution. If a simple majority vote is allowed to strip away rights from a group of individuals, no one’s fundamental rights are safe.”

The main point of the resolution is that proposition 8 is a revision of the California constitution in that it changes the underlying principles of the Constitution, namely, that of equal protection. As a result, pursuant to the California Constitution, the Legislature must initiate a change of this magnitude; it cannot be accomplished through the initiative process.

The impassioned speeches by the supporters made the point that “the rights of the minority cannot be voted away by a majority, and if they can, then the rights of all are at risk. The gay activists have effectively sidestepped the “we voted for this and won; the majority rule should be respected” issue and have re-directed the conversation to the oppressed minority rights issue.

During the hearing the floor was opened to comment from the audience. EQCA did a very good job of coming prepared with many passionate speakers from all over the state, many of them representatives of churches and community organizations. They also had speakers who had especially emotionally charged stories to tell about repression, family discrimination and children who were brought up in a same sex household without the respect of “married” parents.

I think the open floor took most Prop 8 supporters by surprise. The audience members who spoke in favor of proposition 8 spoke from the heart, but made only the single point that the majority rule should be respected.

One of the three republican committee members made a closing comment that it was ironic that the writers of the resolution, claiming improper separation of powers between the legislature and judiciary, would then proceed to attempt to improperly influence the court in its deliberations by passing a resolution against proposition 8.

My opinion on the whole proceeding? Proposition 8 supporters were out-organized, out-attended and out-argued today. Their argument about the majority voting away the rights of the minority is very persuasive. If some group passed a proposition that took away my right to go to church or raise my family as I saw fit, I would be just as passionate. Considering that the forum of discussion has changed to minority rights, it is ineffective to continue to argue the “we are the majority” point of view. The issue has now become, IS GAY MARRIAGE A RIGHT? During the closing comments by committee members, one of the co-sponsors of the resolution made a comment that was especially open to intelligent review. He spoke at length about how it was really all about LOVE and that anyone should be able to marry the one person they loved. Government has NO RIGHT to regulate our personal relationships. Ok, bloggers, lets run with that one.  (I did!  Let’s brush up on it and Repost!)

The Assembly Judiciary Committee approved H.R. 5 on a vote of 7-3, straight down party lines. The measure will now be transmitted to the Assembly Floor for approval. A similar measure, Senate Resolution 7, has been introduced by Senator Mark Leno (D-San Francisco). That measure resolves that the California State Senate also oppose Prop 8 on constitutional grounds. It will be heard in the Senate Judiciary Committee at a later date.

Here’s another account from one of the overflow rooms written by CatzPajamas:

So i went to this hearing. it passed, 7 to 3.  I’d planned to go to both, but they canceled the 2nd one for unknown reasons. probably so they could reschedule it at another obscure time when no one knows about it.

First off, one thing that really got on my nerves was that the groups of HR5 supporters that were there in the hearing were constantly heckling, rudely commenting and talking during ‘our’ presentations. the guy in charge had to keep interrupting (thus taking away from our presentation time) to tell them to pipe down. i didn’t hear a peep during theirs, our side was respectful, as usual. from the not just disrespectful but angry, obstinate, bitter, vengeful, bigotous muttering comments, expressions and actions of the gay community at this event and in the past, it is extremely obvious to me who ‘owns the hate’. opponents of the measure were, although definitely caught off guard and not nearly as prepared, were composed, matter-of-fact, and respectful of the other side.

Basically the people (majority) of California who voted to pass prop. 8 were painted as a group of ignorant hate-filled lying bigots and that ‘we, the representatives of this state’ have officially decided to step in and take the ‘mere majority vote’ and throw it out the window, because the people of California shouldn’t be able to vote and pass laws. there was a constant theme throughout the comments made by supporters of this measure. I heard ’simple majority vote, mere majority vote, bare majority vote, ’silly popularity contest’ and, my favorite, ‘this isn’t American idol’. They trampled the fact that millions of dollars, thousands of hours, and hundreds of thousands of votes, were spent on this campaign, twice, as if it didn’t matter, because ‘in their personal opinion prop 8 should not have passed’. since when do a few corrupt men blatantly override hundreds of thousands of people in a democracy and get away with it? where is the justice in this? are we so far gone in our system of government that our votes are now just a scam? just a ruse to make us feel like we have a say, unless of course some pawn in the governor’s mansion doesn’t like it??

After this one of the reps went on to say: “we are not required to represent WHO is in our district, we are voted in by our district to vote OUR OWN IDEAS…” he actually said that. i couldn’t believe it. so, you lie and cheat your way into the position, and instead of doing the job you were hired to do which is REPRESENT the people your district, you bend to special interest, radical groups and undermine the very people who put you in office?

This hearing was a scam and a laugh.They snuck it into the middle of a 3 day rally with thousands of gays and their supporters hounding the capital all weekend long, and kept this hearing a secret until just a few days ago, so the few people who were able to make it to try & argue *again* the issue of gay marriage, were barely able to get organized at all. basically the opponents of HR5 all said the same thing: the government is ignoring the majority of California, we voted TWO TIMES on this thing, please respect the people’s vote. We did it legally, and correctly.

Unhappy that the gays didn’t get their way in the election, they are still trying to undermine the people of this state by throwing their tantrums out in the halls and sneaking their way into getting what they want, and this panel of representatives was eating it up.

This hearing made it very clear to me how bent our representatives are on catering to the special interest groups, the contempt they have for anyone in any religion, how easily they ignore their duties and responsibilities, and how easily their eyes glaze over with disinterest at the judicial system set in place to keep groups like this in check. I’m thoroughly disgusted with this whole thing. anyone here read ‘animal farm’? these guys are the pigs.

D. Rolling Kearney was there as well:

“I was the next in line to go in and speak when they ran out of time.

… it should be noted that they were ALL from one group, complete with matching t-shirts and buttons, bused out there together, and they all represented ONE point of view from ONE group of people. Well, you want DIVERSITY? The rest of us drove out there in our own cars, from our own different walks of life (race, religion, non-religion, financial situation, etc), to share multiple points of view on a subject that brings us all together. Because this is wrong on so many levels, it would be a shame for us to let it get framed as a “tyranny of the majority,” when that has nothing to do with it.”

From FullWithFaith:

I, too was there — my office is near the capitol so I walked over in the rain.

…WE, as a grass roots organization in conjunction with our leaders (attorneys, spokesmen, etc) need to do a better job at working harder to be prepared. This comes after reading transcripts of the hearing before Judge Englund on disclosure of donor info. When the judge asked our side in court to cite the last time that they knew of any harassment occurring, our side, our attorneys remained silent. With all of the evidence out there, they clammed up and didn’t say a word. We can do better than this. Our families deserve better than this. The DNA as a grassroots model is a great way to organize….we just have to move beyond organization and into action.

As for my own account, ditto to all those above. I was astonished at how crass and rude the gay rights supporters were.  They had no respect for anyone but themselves.  I was also completely floored by the committee’s brazen nature in disregarding the constitution.  Nowhere does it say “love conquers all”.  If you call it love, you can have whatever you want? No, there’s something deeply wrong with that kind of subjective view, yet these are the people leading this state.  This kind of corrupt power is something you hear about all the time in politics, but seeing it first hand is something I will never forget.

Even though going in we knew the cards were stacked against us, it was important to participate.  From a quasi leadership point of view, this was a good dry run.  Here’s what I learned:

We obviously needed more organization and communication between the organizations.  This was my first attempt at being involved in the process.  Our effectiveness was derailed by lack of numbers, experience and logistics …going early but arriving late because of parking issues, not knowing the layout of the capitol building, and having our group split three ways between all the overflow rooms.  The communication could have been a hundred percent better.  Sunny weather would have been nice too…  The Capitol is a huge place, and moving through all the security to get in and out doesn’t make it easy to organize.  I saw many families there, people who I suspected might be with us, but because we had coats on, who knew what color our shirts were…I had a yellow shirt too, but I bet no one saw it.   Buttons would have been useful that way, some sort of identifier you could put on the outside of whatever you were wearing.  Foresight!  These are the sorts of things we’ll have to overcome in the future if we’re going to increase effectiveness.

I would also love to have a guerrilla handbook of all of our logic arguments and talking points so if we have to switch between “Democracy!” and “Civil Rights!” again, it’s all there to refresh our memories.  All in all, it was very worth it to be there.

We got skunked this time, but it was a good first run.  We’re learning and we”ll be better prepared next time!

–Beetle Blogger

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20 Comments

  1. Laura said,

    February 19, 2009 at 11:52 am

    I agree with FullWithFaith! The most chilling thing about all these posts is how very organized and funded the opposition was, as compared to traditional marriage supporters. This is how we lose. We are apathetic. Who will step forward and come up with an organized plan, here? AFA? UFI? DNA?

  2. TC said,

    February 19, 2009 at 12:26 pm

    The DNA and other organizations need good feedback like this, this is great. The more participation participation from the people the better. We all have to fight fear and apathy. Even if the deck was stacked, I’m pleased that so many of us did participate. We had equal representation before the committee, that was what was crucial this time.

    I think Beetle said this well, we were cut, divided and chaotic this time. We’ll catch our footing though. Besides organization, we need numbers. Any ideas on how we can mobilize better?

  3. Liberty Belle said,

    February 19, 2009 at 12:40 pm

    I was there! I was actually approached by an Equality California recruiter while I was there, that’s how unidentifying I looked I guess. She was surprised when I told her I was actually against HR5. I saw a few of us, but my guess is that we were outnumbered 9 to 1.

    We all have jobs, responsibilities, families….we’re busy people! And these guys are unpleasant to deal with, they’re downright rude! Attending this thing was way out of my personal comfort zone. Better leadership would have helped, but the regular people can still do better than we did here. With all that’s happening nationally and also locally, I think the clarion call is really being made that the average voter has to participate or be steamrolled by the machine that the opposition has become.

    Our only defense is our numbers.

  4. Delirious said,

    February 19, 2009 at 12:58 pm

    I went, but was late, and thought I wouldn’t be allowed in. I also couldn’t find where I needed to go. I ended up watching the press conference instead. I was a little frustrated because when I spoke to other supporters of Prop. 8 about the need to attend the hearing, none of them felt the same urgent need to attend that I felt. It was a good learning experience for me though, and next time I will be there WELL ahead of the start time.

  5. beetlebabee said,

    February 19, 2009 at 1:56 pm

    I’m with you Delirious, I thought getting there an hour early was enough, but the traffic, the rain, the parking issues….just plain logistics threw a wrench into the best laid plans. I got there probably the same time you did. I was in the basement overflow in the cafeteria. They didn’t even tell us there were other overflows.

    I’ll tell you what though, we shouldn’t beat ourselves up too much over this. Yeah we’re not as organized, but we will be. The thing that I was thinking down there in the basement was how many of our people did get in. We were vastly outnumbered, but the committee room was not just filled with opposition supporters, we had a good number in there, enough to be heard equally. The people that did come, were very good speakers I thought and presented well.

    I got to meet some of the speakers afterward, they were good, influential supporters of families. Some were community leaders from as far away as San Diego. That’s pretty dedicated. There was no bus taking these people where they needed to go and paying their way. It was all heart that got them there.

    There were many many Equality California people there that were scattered through the overflow rooms. They didn’t get in the hearing because OUR PEOPLE were in those seats already. They had enough bodies to crowd us out but they didn’t because the more experienced of us were there already! We were there, we spoke and we gave support to our guys on the committee whose votes ultimately supported the people. 3 to 7. The deck was stacked, but all our committee members came through with flying colors. I’m glad we could support them, I’m glad I went, and I’d go again in a heartbeat because that’s what is needed.

    These guys think they can get away with dismissing democracy and the people…but I’m going to remember, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure everyone else remembers as well.

    These guys are coming down!

  6. Euripides said,

    February 19, 2009 at 4:40 pm

    You folks made the effort. The defense of marriage and families has been slow in growing, I suspect, in part, because we are working on maintaining our families as we should be. The EQCA folks are better organized at the moment, but that isn’t the only reason their turnout was better. Consider that their cultural center is close enough to Sacramento, they can easily outnumber folks from the DNA who are spread all over the county. For me, a trip to Sacramento means a week off work. For folks who live in the area, they can take the day off.

  7. rubyeliot said,

    February 19, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    How come people didn’t know about this event earlier?

    thanks for the report BB, i’m posting a link

  8. beetlebabee said,

    February 19, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    I hear you Euripides. It took Pearl and I three days to complete the project. The trip up was wild! The grapevine was closed for snow so we and about half of L.A. were squeezed on to side roads that turned a six hour trip into a ten hour trip. Yipes! Then on four hours sleep we arrived at the hearing late. Next time, I’m going to be there much earlier.

  9. beetlebabee said,

    February 19, 2009 at 4:49 pm

    Ruby, I heard about it through Capitol Resource Institute a few weeks ago, but I forgot about it until the UFI alert we all got. Communication is everything.

  10. February 19, 2009 at 4:54 pm

    […] Beetle Babee went to the hearing and wrote a summary which includes other’s experiences: Assembly Judiciary Committee Ignores California Voters […]

  11. mommyspy said,

    February 20, 2009 at 1:38 am

    EQCA knew about the hearing because they wrote the resolution and got their local assemblyman to present it. They organized the whole event from the ground up.

  12. February 20, 2009 at 2:12 am

    They were also briefed beforehand on the ins and outs of the proceedings, I am certain, by an experienced lawyer: Gloria Allred.

    It is also interesting to note that their arguments were so filled with crocodile tears, and yet this is supposed to be about law…?

    The budget just got passed, which was the reason the hearing on SR7 was postponed, so we need to pay attention and spread the word just as soon as a new date gets posted. I just did a quick check and couldn’t find anything on the legislature section of the ca.gov website.

  13. February 20, 2009 at 2:16 am

    Oh, yeah, I didn’t mention that we were located in the hallway right outside the hearing room, watching the proceedings on a television set.

    They never told us that people could line up to speak when it was “our” turn, hence Mike Feuer’s comment about there not being as many people wanting to speak in opposition to the resolution. However, as soon as people realized what was happening, we quickly filled the queue. I just wish I could have gotten in there sooner to say something besides “respect the vote of the people.”

  14. Chairm said,

    February 20, 2009 at 3:18 pm

    Thanks for going and for reporting back to all of us.

    This was their initiative, remember, and they chose the time and the place to execute it.

    If the No side outnumber the Yes side by 9 to 1, then, remember that ech of stood for at least 4 other California voters.

    Elected representatives will therefore do a little calculation when you send them a letter, fax, email, or make a phone call.

    Something like this: “One marriage defender spoke out. There must be another 4 who agree with this guy but has not spoken out.”

    On the other hand the No side is disproportionately represented by the lobbying efforts and this kind of political theater. In effect, it 2 of them to represent 1 No voter.

    The calculation is more like, “These people were bruight in like cattle as ‘extras’ in a bit of political theater.” And the committee members who are against the marriage amendment will hope that the political optics will obscure the betrayal of the voters.

    So you did good.

    Remember, about 70% of having an impact is just showing up to play.

  15. Chairm said,

    February 20, 2009 at 3:20 pm

    That calculation, by the way, is how representatives think. They underestimate even though they try to overestimate.

    What we need is to make them understand that for every one marriage defender who shows up, there are 9-plus who would if they could.

  16. rubyeliot said,

    February 20, 2009 at 3:33 pm

    Seriously, chairm.

    hey, for all of ya’ll who went and witnessed the atmosphere, could you possible respond to this comment?

    http://thepomegranateapple.wordpress.com/2009/02/19/prop-8-hr-5-hearing-report-equality-california-eqca-organized-and-disrespectful/#comment-586

  17. Woman on the Street said,

    February 20, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    I went to see the hearing myself.. but unfortunately did not realize that you had to be there really early just to get a seat. So I was in an overflow room, where the other side had snickers when the HR5 opponents spoke. I found this very rude. I felt very saddened when a mother of 8 spoke and the hearing room as well as our overflow room broke out in snickers and jeers as if her opinion was somehow tainted because she had 8 kids. How sad that our community supports such ill mannered people to go unchecked. I felt as if our side was painted as a if we were bible thumping zealots living in the dark ages. Where is the common sense?

  18. talkinmama said,

    February 20, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    So what we need is a politician brave enough to represent our side, and an attorney who knows what to expect at these types of events. Would Tom McClintock take up our cause? Or maybe Tony and Audra Strickland? It’s hard to know who should be our political rep because we certainly don’t want some homo-phobe up there. And as one of the comments said, “they’ll tell us one thing to our face, ane then totally flip-flop on us”.

  19. Rita said,

    February 23, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Politicians- ALL politicians are about votes. Their must be a clear consequence for NOT standing up for the majority of your constituents
    opinions. We are NOT known as a political lobbying group- those Blacks, Hispanics, and religious types who voted Yes on 8 can be ignored with
    no political (re-election) repercussions. What is the solution? Find and support and vote for those who will stand up for us? The GSA is a powerful lobbying group with $$ and political clout. How do we get some of that??

  20. Janice Brown said,

    February 23, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    Thank you to all of the supporters of the Marriage act for taking your valuable time to attend. This 80 old+ appreciates that. Too bad they didn’t take a poll of the attendes and what organization they belonged to and if they received any financial renumeration for attending. Again thank you and God bless you!


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