EQCA’s passive aggressive Town Hall meeting in San Francisco

May 22, 2011 § 24 Comments

California’s leading LGBT lobbying organization Equality California held the first of many statewide Town Hall meetings in San Francisco on Thursday, May 19 at the LGBT Community Center.

EQCA logo

Used car salesmen?

EQCA will lead a total of 12 of these Town Hall meetings over the next three weeks throughout the state (including one tonight in West Hollywood) as a way to gather “…input from the community about the wisdom of moving forward with a ballot initiative” in 2012 to repeal Prop 8.

According one of the five panelists that led the meeting, Andrea Shorter the Deputy Marriage and Coalitions Director for EQCA, there will be a rotating group of community leaders facilitating the meetings with Ms. Shorter being the single constant presence.

In San Francisco Ms. Shorter was joined by Managing Director Jim Carroll, legal consultant Shannon Minter from the National Center for Lesbian Rights, Tawal Panyacosit from API Equality and David Binder from Binder research.

The evening began with a presentation from Mr. Minter about the Prop 8 trial – a little history, a little refresher, a lot of summary about stuff we know too well AND forecasts of what could come. The moral of the story in regard to the Prop 8 trial: get ready to wait and don’t expect anything but waiting. The CA Supreme Court has to chime in about standing. The 9th Circuit court takes over again after that. Decisions can go in any direction and could end up at the US Supreme Court sooner on one matter or later on the big picture which makes everyone shit their pants just a little bit.

A range of decisions on the trial would happen between 2012 and 2014 and the outcome at any point may not be what we want.

Mr. Minter didn’t specifically mention this overused phrase, but at the end of his spiel he could have uttered: “I’m just sayin’…” and it would have been fitting.

Next up was David Binder from Binder research with a SURPRISE! He had a slide show to present with results of a telephone survey (that was commissioned by EQCA and others for an undisclosed fee) conducted with 900 Californians between May 10 and 14. The stats were divided up in different categories that showed bars vertically then horizontally and I can’t exactly regurgitate ANY of the specific findings because the results weren’t made available to the audience in a printed take away format.

The panel was asked if the slide show would ever be accessible and the panelists all took turns looking at each other and belching.

I guess that means the results probably won’t be available.

Binder’s survey revealed that opposition to same-sex marriage in California has barely wavered. Over all there is 45% support for marriage equality and 45% opposition. The big change is that now there is 10% of the population uncertain about what they think. That is more uncertainty than ever before.

Among the various demographics of those surveyed the results pretty much fell along the same lines. Church goers still hate us as much as ever. Right wingers do too. Old people are still bitter that they don’t get laid. African-Americans and Latinos are increasingly ambivalent, which I guess is positive news.

These results haven’t changed a whole lot since 2009 when angry gays energized by the passage of Prop 8 gathered in southern California and Fresno and fought like rabid dogs about going back to the polls in 2010. At that time, EQCA said there was nowhere near enough support to bother with a new ballot measure. They expressed no interest in participating in a campaign and the repeal effort pretty much died at that point (except for some hard core groups that fought on and ultimately failed).

To EQCA’s credit, they said they would revisit a repeal campaign for 2012 and that’s what is motivating this dozen Town Hall meetings. Props to them for following up.

Unfortunately, this endeavor smacks of insincerity. At least it did at the first meeting.

We are greeted with negativity and pessimism about the court case – an honest assessment even if dark. The court case is rife with uncertainty over which California gays have little control and no input. Then we are painted a rosy picture of survey results that aren’t exactly rosey, and that wasn’t glossed over but Ms. Shorter did ask the room why there seems to be so much negativity and gloom and doom present.

Why indeed?

Members on the panel were quick to point out that EQCA is merely gathering information on this tour. They are going to reconvene following the meetings and assess the findings and meet with other organizations and a decision about a repeal effort will be made…by the adults….in a dark and private room probably….while the rest of us sit at the kids table wondering when or if we will be excused.

Mr. Minter refused to be nailed down to offer an opinion about the risks of allowing another vote to repeal Prop 8. Considering how close the survey numbers are and the vast numbers of undecided people, if a repeal is successful isn’t it likely that an effort to re-enact Prop 8 could follow in 2 or 4 years?

Minter did say that a repeal of Prop 8 would officially end the Prop 8 trial. So a repeal would kill that progress. And a failed repeal would also give the justices that are in the process of considering the validity of Judge Walker’s decision a great deal of pause. Maybe Walker was wrong. Maybe the public opinion against a repeal deserves attention.

Any questions raised about a campaign to repeal were deferred to the “we’ll have to take that under consideration” file because the matter of campaign strategy hasn’t been addressed. Any opinions raised about the dismal No on 8 campaign that was directed by EQCA in 2008 were politely considered, defensively addressed or more or less ignored.

EQCA wants us to decide if we are interested in participating in a campaign that they won’t tell us anything about.

Used car salesman

Got $60 million laying around?

Hey, California gays – wanna buy a used car? It’s got an all new interior and it’s gonna be really fucking expensive and I know you are broke, but stop being negative and click your heels three times and just buy the goddamned thing.

You might regret the purchase in a year or two.  If you do we’ll remind you that we warned you the car was a shitty mess and we’ll blame YOU for being a bunch of punk ass bitches.

It’s all good!

PS. h/t to my peeps, Michael Petrelis and Steven Zollman for helping me catch some details and maintain sanity.


§ 24 Responses to EQCA’s passive aggressive Town Hall meeting in San Francisco

  • MPetrelis says:

    hi patrick,

    glad to see you wrote up a report. good work, and i’ve blogged and linked to you:


    there is so much accountability work to be done, and i’m damn glad you’re providing some of it. thanks.

  • Lester says:

    Thank you for calling attention to the Town Hall meetings. Given the time short frames for taking action on a ballot initiative, it is a conversation we need to have now and it needs to be done openly and honestly. Our view is that it is important that we take all necessary steps to preserve the option of a ballot initiative. That means submitting language, gathering signatures, having the conversations and helping to move public opinion. If the court case goes our way, we don’t have to turn in the signatures. If it doesn’t, we have an alternative. If, on the other hand, we don’t prepare, the next window of opportunity may not be until 2016, i.e., 8 years after Prop 8 yanked our rights away.

    Lester F. Aponte
    Outeach Director
    Love Honor Cherish

    • uppityfag says:

      Thanks, Lester. It was encouraging to hear that the attendance in WeHo was much better than in SF. Hopefully the interest will continue to snowball as the tour continues over the next couple weeks.

      It sounds LHC is interested, as I am inclined, to allow the court cases to progress – preventing that apple cart from being upturned and reserving the right to go back to the ballot if necessary.

      It would have been nice – cordial, informative, affirming, professional – for EQCA to tip their hand a bit to reveal what the strategic options could be for a repeal effort. They seem to be establishing a pattern of pretending to be not involved in those discussions even though they clearly are – or at least thinking people would hope that they are having serious internal conversations – since they hired a new ED and planned this tour.

      The controlling card holding is only encouraging skepticism.

  • Michael McKeon says:


    We need to be in the streets with outrage, I never have and still don’t have any trust for EQ/CA. Lester, you make a very good technical point, thank you, this movement is taking on a certain separatist slant how ever and I have no interest in being a “Factory Rat”.
    Patrick, about this evening’s WeHo town hall, Roland??? was introduced and then never said another word validating your “dark room” comment. Having said all that I believe that we should go back in 12 just to keep fighting, we need to be in the streets “EARNING OUR ATTITUDE”

    • uppityfag says:

      Sure, Roland isn’t technically an employee yet, but why would he not even address the crowd? That is a disappointment.

      Hopefully his silent presence indicates that another tour of Town Halls will come in July after he is officially installed. Otherwise, he risks appearing like Geoff Kors 2.0 and that isn’t going to attract support for a repeal effort.

      I have a zillion concerns about a repeal effort. Emotionally, I support it and believe in a repeal campaign. Also it’s a matter of pride and determination and “fuck you Yes on 8” to me that I can’t entirely separate from.

      Yet the realities of the effort concern me enormously.

  • michael mckeon says:

    Well said Patrick

  • MPetrelis says:

    not sure what to make of palencia showing up at the meeting and then remaining silent. can the LA folks enlighten us as to whether he explained his reasons for not speaking up?

  • Michael McKeon says:

    That’s a great question Mr. Petrelis

  • Michael McKeon says:

    I was there and have no explanation.

  • MPetrelis says:

    just read patrick range mcdonald’s piece at the LA weekly site, which links to this post, and here’s how he describes palencia’s presence:

    EQCA’s next executive director, Roland Palencia, was sitting in the audience.


    someone should explain to palencia and everyone at EQCA that much more communication and engagement is needed from them.

  • Gloria says:

    I think Eqca should be telling us how many people were at the meeting, who was on the panel and not much more. Why? Because they haven’t heard from anyone outside of the orioles of SF and WeHo. What I think we need is a report on the cumulative responses of ALL the town hall meetings, not just these two. I expect to be part of this listening tour, not an addendum to these two meetings.

    Also, here’s a cultural clue, Roland is not a gay white man and so he will not always act the way you want him to. If it was me, I would have sat quietly also, at the most said hello. At this point, his job is to listen and considering how much bitching has happened over the past ED not listening to the non-moneyed Californians I like the fact that he is listening. Btw, in many cultures, listening is a form of communication. It is respectful to listen.

  • Stephen Zollman says:

    As always, very much appreciate the dialog and peoples’ careful watch over the transparency and accountability as steps are taken…this is the only way to regain trust as we either move forward with the repeal or not…

  • michael mckeon says:


    I agree with much of what you’re saying, but his silence was deafening, perhaps he could have introduced himself, even that would have made a difference.

    Larry Kramer once said that in order to win on our issues we must be “Gay First” , you are my sister in this fight if you are LGBT and that’s the way it’s got to be or else we have the Lesbian Nuns Of Tibet’s West San Fernando Valley Chapter etc….and it fragments LGBT folks as a community. That is not to say that we all don’t have other struggles based on culture, but for the LGBT issues how bout we’re all GAY FIRST.

  • MPetrelis says:

    huh? i would like to know more about palencia not even making some small remarks to the crowd in LA. sounds like another clueless aspect to this town hall project EQCA is putting on. nice that he showed up to listen, but doesn’t he realize folks want him to also speak up? i do hope he’ll be able to multitask when he officially starts earning his $170,000 salary.

  • michael mckeon says:


    I believe it was Jim Carol of EQ/CA that introduced him. And then? Crickets, not a word, and when he was introduced he was in the crowd. I didn’t even turn around because I was sure that we would hear more from him during the meeting.
    At the end of the meeting he did snuggle up to one of L.A.’s most respected Bloggers and they appeared to be having an in depth conversation. I will likely go to Santa Ana tonight, so maybe he’ll say hello to everyone.

  • uppityfag says:

    Michael Mc – I hope you do go to Santa Ana tonight and will report back. So far we have had reports from each meeting…and that probably won’t last as I don’t know very many people in SoCal…other than my near and dear FB pals.

    I’d love to hear about the numbers and varieties of people of color that are in attendance, what with the new focus on the outreach to POC.

    SF had one African American man (who may have been straight) and an Asian woman. I didn’t scan the room as much as I should have….but seemed 90% to me.

    Was an effort made to attract diverse populations to the Town Halls or are we reserving that outreach for our ballot measures only – converting them to the cause / GOTV / not for decision making?

  • MPetrelis says:

    here’s another report on the town hall in SF, that echoes what has been stated by patrick, myself and others at the meeting on thursday. i don’t imagine this report pleases the EQCA leaders:


  • Lester Aponte says:

    Thank you for calling attention to the Town Hall meetings. I have attended the ones in West Hollywood and Long Beach and I have to say they seemed far more positive than what you describe. Given the time short frames for taking action on a ballot initiative, it is a conversation we need to have now and it needs to be done openly and honestly. Our view is that it is important that we take all necessary steps to preserve the option of a ballot initiative. That means submitting language, gathering signatures, having the conversations and helping to move public opinion. If the court case goes our way, we don’t have to turn in the signatures. If it doesn’t, we have an alternative. If, on the other hand, we don’t prepare, the next window of opportunity may not be until 2016, i.e., 8 years after Prop 8 yanked our rights away.

    Lester F. Aponte
    Outeach Director
    Love Honor Cherish

  • Lester Aponte says:

    OK. Now I feel like an idiot. I meant to copy that text and write a new comments. Instead, I reposted what I posted before. DOH! I would be grateful if you deleted both of these comments.

  • michael mckeon says:

    I didn’t make Santa Ana as I have work all of a sudden, Lester is a great source from So. Cal. Patrick, he’ll give it to ya straight.

  • Alex Gorman says:

    Mike, you are welcome to post my account of the Santa Ana meeting if you like.


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