Please, don’t stereotype

Almost everyone I’ve talked to who has worked on a campaign to defeat an anti-gay ballot initiative, or to pass a positive one, has remarked on how their own stereotypes have been challenged in the process. Sometimes the last people we expect to support us, based on appearance, location, or whatever cues cause us to make assumptions about others, turn out to be our greatest allies.

It may be tempting to stereotype those who will vote for the Marshall-Newman amendment as uneducated rubes with poor reading comprehension skills, but that’s really not fair. We should resist making these unfounded assumptions, and instead use empirical observation.

Here, from my own empirical observation, is a representative conversation with a “yes” voter:


Me: Excuse me Ma’am, do you know about the constitutional amendment that will be on the ballot in November? It’s the one that people are calling the “marriage amendment.”

Voter: Yes, I know about it. I’m going to vote for it.

Me: Ma’am, have you had a chance to read the entire thing?

Voter: No, I haven’t. I don’t need to.

Me: Ok, well, I highly recommend that you read it before you vote on it.


In fact, as a general rule, I highly recommend that voters read anything in its entirety before voting on it. It just seems like a good idea.

I offer this tale with the caveat that I don’t have a large enough sample size of people who are willing to say that they are voting yes on the amendment for this to be in any sense scientific.

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5 Responses to Please, don’t stereotype

  1. Sorry David, but I figure anyone who’s voting for a constitutional amendment without reading it is uneducated, or at least as dumb as a bag of hair.

    Frankly, the average voter isn’t going to self-educate about issues. They’re going to vote how their pastor, radio station, or television ad tells them. This is how Republicans scare their base to the polls.

  2. David says:

    Yep, I’d have to agree. The point was that it’s not necessarily a reading comprehension problem. Too tongue-in-cheek?

    There’s a world of difference, IMO, between someone who fails to actively seek out information, and someone who actively refuses to read the entire text of a constitutional amendment before they vote on it. And announces such refusal in public. I’m not sure that “dumb as a bag of hair” adequately describes that.

  3. Lawrence-Norfolk says:

    Ok”¦ so I’m mostly nobody as Ralph Ellison so eloquently stated, “an invisible man”¦” No one knows me but damnit, my opinion matters so here goes: —whew— This amendment is a CROCK! Here I am, a Black Gay Republican (don’t get it twisted, I’m a Republican not a conservative *ick*). Having typed that let me say my partner (yeah, he’s a Dem) and I don’t give a damn about marriage as an institution what we care about is marriage as contract. This stupid amendment (beyond all of the rhetoric about ‘gay marriage’) will mean the more then $10,000 we’ve spent to protect each other (power of attorneys, living wills, wills, life insurance policies, etc) may very well be MOOT! We did these things simply to protect each other in case one or the other of us have to be hospitalized or die. It means our house, the artwork, hell even the dogs, who are considered PROPERTY not family members in eyes of the law, may be up for grabs by the others family when one of us dies””REGARDLESS OF OUR STATED INTENTIONS! I had long hard conversations with each of my family members (more then 20-8 sisters/3 brothers, their older kids, my parents, etc) making it clear that if I am hospitalized they damn well have NO RIGHT to make a decision for me, their OPINION matters and that opinion would help my partner of a number of years make the decision. Seems easy right? NOT! (Sorry for babbling on). I don’t have any local immediate family, what I do have are 2 great aunts and 4 or 5 2nd cousins (whom I don’t particurarly care for) who will have the right to make my decision for me if this amendment passes and I am incapacitated (because they are considered family! This is oh so wrong! Ok, so let’s get rid of the gay part of this. I have a sister, she and her boyfriend have been together for 18 years and never married”¦ uh oh”¦ SAME DISCRIMINATORY ACTIONS as apply to me”¦ hmmm Oh yeah, they never did the “legal stuff” to protect each other but if she’s hospitalized he will just say, “yeah I’m her husband” and that will be that”¦
    16. David – July 26, 2006

  4. Jonathan says:


    The amendment’s second paragraph prevents legal recognition of a status that “indends to approximate…marriage”. “OUR STATED INTENTIONS!” are precisely what will get you and your partner into trouble. While anti-gay family scholars at the Institute for American Values explain Why Marriage Matters, the Virginia Family Foundation and backers of the amendment attack your family for recognizing the positive benefits of marriage. There is no doubt that this amendment is mean-spirited to the core.

  5. Jon Swift says:

    I really don’t think you should be encouraging people to read ballot initiatives. It might just confuse them and we already have enough confused voters as it is.