Proposition 8, the initiative to ban same-sex marriage in California, has been so divisive throughout the state that it seems to even be splitting individuals in half. For the second time in a month, Capitol Weekly has found a case of the same individual forming committees on both sides of the gay marriage debate.
But far from being confused about their position in the debate, Mark Nelson and the group of individuals he represents are aiming to forge an innovative new method of campaigning by appearing to argue both sides of the issue.
On July 9, Nelson filed paperwork with the Secretary of State's office to register two new political action committees; "Protect Marriage for All," which officially opposes Prop. 8, and a second committee to support it, entitled "Bigots Against Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
As one might guess, "Bigots" is not exactly what it officially claims to be. The committee is in fact a satire, and both "Bigots" and "Protect Marriage for All" are backed by the same group of individuals who oppose Prop 8. Nelson explained that the committee and its name were intended to be attention-grabbers.
"We talk to people who are not even aware of the argument, not aware of the issues… ‘Bigots' was created to generate interest in the issue by using a charged statement to catch your attention,' said Nelson. "We hope to reach people that are not yet even in the orbit of the debate."
And the "bigots" have some big plans to grab your attention through a campaign of satirical advocacy, the centerpiece of which will be a campaign Web site, www.marriagebigots.com, which at press time was not yet operational. But the site will soon have some pretty spectacular content, according to Nelson.
"We have secured [exclusive] interviews some of the worlds favorite bigots; Osama bin Laden, who has been very hard to find. Another one of our very favorite bigots is Saddam Hussein. Kim Jong-Il has also weighed in," said Nelson. The site will also "honor" over a hundred individuals who have veritably advocated for Prop 8, and present the exaggerated arguments in favor of the measure, in the hopes of pointing out the flaws in the arguments for banning gay marriage.
But Jennifer Kerns, a spokesperson for Proposition 8, thinks that the campaign is nothing new.
"I'm not surprised," says Kerns, "this group of advocates are the same [type of] people who have tried to intimidate people who support Prop 8 by calling them hateful things, such as in the title of their committee."
Kerns also believes that the campaign won't speak to most Californians they way that Nelson might hope.
"The reality is that the majority of Californians support marriage being between a man and a woman, so I hope they're not calling the majority of Californians bigots."
In tandem with their satirical "bigots" campaign, Nelson and the individuals he represents will be running "Protect Marriage for All" as a straight forward campaign against the gay marriage ban. Nelson says that they hope to branch out into advertising and voter registration, but for now are focusing efforts on the Web site. Nelson hopes the Web site will attract contributions so that he and others can expand the "bigots" campaign into other media.
Ultimately, says Nelson, the goal of "Bigots" is to reach out to a variety of different perspectives and make them pay attention.
"Have you seen those double-meaning pictures, where one person who looks at it sees a pretty lady and another sees an old woman? ‘Bigots' will be like that. It will reveal ourselves to ourselves. Each person will look at it and see something very different. Some will see the pretty girl and some will see the old lady. Some will see truth and some will see hate. People will look at it and say, ‘What is going on here?' It's different from what anyone has done in the past."