Open thread – election day stories

UPDATE: There’s quite a bit of huffing and puffing over at NoVA Townhall, as the use of children in the anti-family amendment campaign is subjected to critical scrutiny. This appears to have been quite widespread. I don’t at all think that what is offensive about this has to do with getting young people engaged in the political process – that’s something we should all enthusiastically support. What so many find unethical is the use of children as billboards for their parents’ viewpoints – or as little props, as in this photo of Rick Santorum’s concession speech. Here’s what one observer had to say:

I watched that concession speech on TV last night and I noticed that little girl immediately. Mom and Dad made sure her little scrunched-up crying face was front and center the whole time – carefully pushing her forward, straightening her towards the cameras every now and then. How despicable to use their children this way. I pity these poor kids.

It is the parents who are responsible for putting their daughter in this position, and it is they who are being taken to task here, not the child. It is her parents who created this little scene, not the journalists who recorded it.

What we saw over and over on election day were very small children plastered with stickers and instructed to hand out very controversial literature for a cause that they couldn’t possibly understand. This, I think, reveals a certain attitude toward children: That they exist only to satisfy the desires of their parents, and should have no expectation of dignity and autonomy. There is further evidence of this view in the statement “Most parents want their children to marry someone of the opposite sex” (Joe was shouting in the original – I eased the volume down). As a parent, all I want is for my kid to be a happy, healthy and kind person, so this degree of specificity is a bit suspect. It sounds to me like these parents are more interested in their own causes than they are in the happiness of their children. What do they do when a child turns out to be gay? Throw them away? Too often, that is exactly what they do.

There is seemingly an inability to differentiate between normal family activities and this unethical use of children, as expressed in a comment about the participation of gay families in the White House Easter Egg Roll this spring. Sorry, but no. I think there is a quite obvious, glaring difference between simply taking your family to a children’s event, and dressing your children up as a bride and groom and parading them through the streets of Leesburg to make a political statement. The latter is, frankly, disturbing and creepy.

This is also not about objections to political content in the Leesburg Parade. Obviously, our own float had such content – although ours was in keeping with the Independence Day theme – and we have been vocal in defending that aspect of the holiday. This is about a particular crass use of children as political props, and the fact that those who do this are unable to see anything wrong with their behavior.

For the record, the (unnamed) people who did this at this year’s parade gave permission to Equality Loudoun to take photos. Not that permission was needed at a public event, but we did ask. The few photos taken of this family while decorating their car have been part of this Fourth of July page since we posted it. I wish that we had some photos of the finished float, but we never saw them finish the parade.

For those of you who worked a poll for the Vote No campaign, how about sharing some stories? In my travels to visit numerous polling places, I saw instances of the volunteers on opposing sides laughing and getting along, and also some instances of unpleasant behavior. One story I heard involved a “Vote Yes” volunteer wearing a wedding dress, with which she tried to physically block her counterparts from talking to voters. Let’s hope that she was at least a consenting adult – unlike this unfortunate child, who was put into this dress on a 95 degree day in July.

What did you see and hear out there?

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31 Responses to Open thread – election day stories

  1. Robin P-B says:

    I was with the “bride” at the elementary school. She kept telling people she was nonpartisan. I rather doubted it but I took her at her word ;-). The only problem was that she wanted to stand very close to the opposing viewpoint and when people would walk toward the building she would dodge in front making sure that they had her flyer and the chocolate she was handing out to the kids.

    She also would not discuss the matter with voters who opposed her. She would simply walk away (except for two lovely darling women who kept her occupied for 5 glorious minutes with great arguements). Thankfully, when I’m riled I get charmingly assertive and had no problem stepping around her or in front of her. She was sort of trying to be chatty in between times but I just felt an uncomfortable vibe from her. I found it odd that the party on the other side made sure she had liquids and food but never bothered to ask me. Gee I could have been hungry too. :-))
    When I had to leave I starting begging folks to stay with the party rep so she wouldn’t have to continue to deal with this alone. To be honest, it all just seemed creepy.

  2. Mike C. says:

    My partner and I recently moved from Leesburg to Arlington. We have been so pleased with the positive and welcoming
    neighbors. The first day we moved into our home, we had people stopping by to meet both my partner and I.

    On voting day it was the same. Outside of the building were ‘Vote No on Amendment #1’ lawn signs. I never once saw a
    ‘vote yes for marriage’ yard sign– I probably would have ran it over! 🙂

    It was very positive and the fact that nearly 75% of my neighbors supported out cause— well, it felt damn good for a

    Arlington, VA

  3. Gee, David, something about that post seems mildly classless.

  4. David says:

    Well, Joe, we obviously disagree. In my view, what is classless is the exploitation of children by their parents for crass political purposes. That’s also a behavior I saw a bit of on election day – small children being used as props to lobby for something that they couldn’t possibly understand.

    In the interest of background: The photo that this post links to is from this year’s Leesburg Independence Day Parade. You can see all of our pictures from the parade here. This particular family chose to dress up two of their children as a bride and groom, as an advertisement for the so-called “marriage amendment.” Everyone who saw this or heard about it found it disturbing, to say the least. “Sick” is the most common descriptor I’ve heard. According to reports from the crowd, they received no applause as they went by, just stunned silence.

    If it had been a less public event I would have some hesitation about posting this, but it was a parade, for goodness sake. What were they thinking?

    Who else saw children being used on election day?

  5. Yes I know what the event was; the report I received was rather different from what you just described.

  6. David says:

    Just got back from church where I heard another report, this time from Lovettsville. Apparently there was a woman there who had four little girls handing out sample ballots and “vote yes” literature. When our volunteer asked her whether she understood what she was having her little girls lobby for, the woman, who was from India, talked about her conversion to “Christianity,” how she came from a culture that was too inclusive, and also said some hateful anti-gay things that my friend didn’t want to repeat. She was motivated by anti-gay animus, and I guess that’s what she’s trying to teach her kids.

  7. Danny says:


    RE: Santorum and his kids – Just as you don’t want others to tell you how to act as a family, why are you now trying to judge another family’s actions?

    Then again, since you and your partner cannot bear children, I wouldn’t expect you to understand the natural bond created between a father and his children, and vice versa.

  8. David, what exactly is the relevance of that photo to your original post? The guy gave his concession speech and his family was sad.

  9. David says:

    I thought I explained this pretty clearly. I think it’s unethical to use children in this manner.

    Of course the family was sad – that’s understandable.

    Using the child as a prop, however, is not. That ain’t no father-child bond at work, that’s something else. Please, please tell me you don’t think this is normal behavior. Danny, your remark is laughable. When you’ve raised some kids to adulthood and maintained a partnership with the same person for 25 years, come back and we’ll talk.

  10. Yeah, well, although you didn’t ask me I’ve done those things and my kids would still show up at a public event and possibly cry (on their better days). I just don’t see why this scenario is something to ridicule.

  11. Danny says:

    Do you know the Santorums? Do you understand the relationship the children have with their father? Do you understand the devotion that Mr. Santorum has for his children? (Hopefully you can tell by my charisma that I do, so I’m not just spouting hot air.)

    If you listened to the concession speech, you heard that Mr. Santorum has been in public office since the beginning of his marriage. The only job his children have known him to have is that of Congressman/Senator – so don’t you think it makes a little bit of sense for them to be upset that he lost (especially considering how public these races become)? They’re kids – they show emotion. What’s the big freakin’ deal?

    And that’s right. I don’t get to jump in the “fatherhood” discussion yet, since my baby is only 5 months old and I haven’t quite gotten over the whole miracle of life and miracle of childbirth kick. But surely you can speak to it, since you’ve been with the same partner for 25 years and have raised “some kids.” I’ll look you up in 22 years.

    ps – You didn’t dispute my statement.

  12. Jonathan says:

    “Do not be afraid to be intolerant, Intolerance does not mean hating your neighbor; it is caring for his soul by teaching him the error of his ways.”

    Rick Santorum

    Rick Santorum built his career on a foundation of intolerance and insults — repeatedly singling out the GLBT community for ridicule and discrimination. He used his democratically elected position to legislate his personal religious prejudices. Like the parents of the poor little girl in the wedding dress, he is a proponent of “parental rights”, the right to shield children from ideas they find objectionable. The anti-gay industry and the small-tent propagandists in Loudoun find the idea that there are gay and lesbian people in this world, that they have healthy, loving families, and that there is nothing wrong with them to be verboten. I think that’s why Loudoun’s mini-me AGI is so angry. After all the assurances that they wish no harm to our families, they find themselves between a rock and a hard place. They can’t follow through on that promise and secure their “parental rights”.

    We’ve seen children as political props over and over again. This practice should be discouraged and never should a child be placed into a situation where they could be harmed, as the “just mariage” bride and groom were in the Leesburg July 4 parade. In exercising parental rights, the number 1 idea to be hidden from children is the fact that they are being used, mistreated or abused by their own parents. Exposing this wrong-headed idea is tantamount to poking the bear.

  13. RJ says:

    “…and also said some hateful anti-gay things that my friend didn’t want to repeat. She was motivated by anti-gay animus, and I guess that’s what she’s trying to teach her kids…”

    Comment by David “” November 12, 2006 @ 2:20 pm

    Your friend wasn’t completely truthful and purposely left out info on what was said. There were NO vitriolic or inflammatory remarks made regarding homosexuals. The discussion was on the clinical studies performed by various psychiatrists who came to a couple of conclusions. One being that homosexuality is a “deviant” behavior. This was a word that was used by a number of psychiatrists in their reports around the nation. You can research for yourself. This mother also said, “I love them because I am commanded to do so by the Bible…my heart goes out for them…Christ came to heal the spiritually sick.” Did your friend also tell you that she herself made a racial remark in asking, “Did you know it was unlawful for a black to marry a white fifty years ago?” to this mother. In fact, there were a number of Democrat volunteers harassing and instigating arguments with this Mother and her children. Please, no more lies, false accusations, and twisting the truth.

  14. Jonathan says:


    Three Questions:
    1. Virginia was the last holdout for anti-misegination laws which were overturned by the Supreme Court in the 1967 Loving v Virginia ruling. Where’s the misstatment of fact? Where is the “racial remark?” Is criticism of government sponsored racism a problem?

    2. What are we supposed to do with the “information” that ‘homosexuality is a “deviant” behavior’ and that “Christ came to heal the spiritually sick”? Are you advocating that all same-sex headed families dissolve themselves and seek reparative therapy?

    3. If your family was referred to as engaging in “deviant behavior” or “spiritually sick”, would you consider that vitriolic or inflammatory?

  15. David says:

    I’m not quite sure what you were trying to prove with your comment, RJ. You have essentially admitted that the woman’s remarks were vitriolic and motivated by anti-gay animus. What do you imagine is meant by “deviant” and “sick”? The views you describe are not considered legitimate anywhere in medicine and science, and not knowing any better isn’t really a very good excuse.

  16. RJ says:

    Answers to the questions by Jonathan

    1. I did not say that there was a misstatement of fact. Let’s calm down. You are correct about the miscegenation laws in the U.S. No doubt about it. This woman is married to an American and was asked this question in a derogative way. You were not there.

    2. Yes, provide proper health and mental care/healing for them, instead of fighting on this issue. Fighting is not productive.

    3. I do not put any weight to someone calling my family “deviant” or “sick”, because it is a view of man, not God. I strictly use the Bible as a guideline for myself and my children. The Bible says that love is the fulfillment of all the laws presented in the Book. The laws were established to maintain peace, love, and harmony among us. When any minority group refuses to follow these basic commandments, then disharmony erupts in society. As a result we are faced with the degradation of society and family. Jesus clearly states that He came to heal the sick(all types), not the healthy. His sole purpose was to be the ultimate sacrifice for humanity.

    As a final note, let us not consume ourselves with anger and fury. Let us avoid ulcers from all this stress. I will not be visiting nor responding further. I am too busy. May God bless you always. Everything will work out in the end for the better. Peace!Peace!Peace!

  17. David says:

    Regarding 3) above: I feel quite the same way. The condemnation and abuse of our families is a view created by man, and carries no weight whatsoever. That is why anyone coming here, however well-intentioned, with the objective of changing the basic nature of other people, disrespecting the way other people were created, will end up very frustrated.

    Our community is made up of people who are quite happy, healthy, and comfortable with who we are. Coming into our house and insisting that we shouldn’t be those things, that we are in need of some particular kind of “healing” is, in fact, fighting. We are not looking for a fight, but neither are we going to be subjected to dehumanizing treatment. I am a very patient person. I will say this as many times as it takes for everyone to understand it.

    Yes, let us not consume ourselves with anger. All will be well.

  18. Coco says:

    All pro-gay activists–Please read the following article carefully at the web address below. What are your thoughts on this? Your opinions will NOT be judged.

  19. Jonathan says:

    Good summary of AGI talking points Coco. Please spend time reviewing the material on this site, as most if not all of the points are addressed. One of the most disturbing things about Peter Sprigg’s paper is the presentation of social science data as fact, and the myth behind the change to the 1973 DSM. There is plenty of good gender studies work to be found, much of it was reviewed by the Supreme Court during the Lawrence v Texas case. Please see Stanley Kurtz’s work disputed by William K Eskridge, and also Chai Feldblum’s gay is good site.

    How did you find Peter Sprigg’s analysis? What were the most important points? How would you rate the scholarship of Spriggs, Eskridge and Feldblum?

    p.s. Why did you scream that “Your opinions will NOT be judged.” when it is self-evident that judging our lives, families and political/social positions is precisely what Spriggs is doing in the paper you referenced?

  20. Coco says:

    Spriggs, Eskridge and Feldblum was interestng, but the article makes it solely a Republican issue. A good percentage of Democrats voted yes to the marriage amendment too. My family voted for Webb, but voted yes for this marriage amendment. The voters of Virginia have spoken on Election Day and want this marriage amendment in the Constitution.

    Looking back in history and even Biblical history, civiizations with this type of lifestyle only contributed to the destruction in the long-term. For example, Cananites, Hittites, and Romans to name a few. The gay lifestyle might seem healthy for the short-term, but one needs to look at the long-term impact on our civilization. Let me give an example not related to this. Farmers have been using sludge from the sewage plants to fertilize crops for many many years. This was great in the beginning. As years went by, the farmers and the residents living in close proximity of the farm applying sludge/biosolids were inflicted with cancer and other diseases. Sludge application was great for the short-term but deadly in the long run.

    It is not my intention to offend anyone, but just think about it. Looking forward to your thoughts and your input about the article below.

  21. David says:

    I briefly read the article, Coco, and it’s just more of the same animus, based on a lack of knowledge. I appreciate your intention to not offend anyone. My suggestion is that you honestly get to know some GLBT people – not for the purpose of trying to change them, but to educate yourself. While it is true that variability in sexual orientation has always existed, there is no such thing as “the gay lifestyle.” If you had a variety of gay people in your life, that would become apparent pretty quickly. I doubt very much that anyone today, gay or straight, lives like Hittites. It also shouldn’t be that hard to figure out why it is offensive to describe other people using such terminology as you have asked us to read.

    I certainly agree with you that this is not a partisan issue, despite vigorous attempts to make it one. Many Republicans made a point of telling me at the polls that they voted No, and it’s now evident that the amendment caused Allen to lose the election. I think we can put away that canard once and for all. These amendments may drive up turnout, but it’s not reliably partisan turnout.

    I also notice that supporters of the amendment are now congratulating themselves for delaying the legal recognition of same sex partnerships for an entire decade. Hmm.

  22. Jonathan says:

    Coco, I found your comment below interesting:

    The voters of Virginia have spoken on Election Day and want this marriage amendment in the Constitution.

    Care to share your election day stories? What did you hear from voters? What were ‘yes’ voters voting for? What were ‘no’ voters voting against?

  23. Robin P-B says:

    Regarding the photo above:I am a parent and never would I put a child front and center if she were crying like that. Why wasn’t her mother holding or comforting her. I would have been much more sympathetic to that photo. Anyone can see that the mother’s hands are obviously holding the girl right in front. I am truly sick to death of children being used for political purposes. These people should be parents first and politicians last.

  24. Tom says:

    Our Election Day experience was pretty uneventful. It was cold, dark and rainy outside, and most voters were in a hurry to get home after work. Kent was operating under only two hours of sleep in 48 hours, due to a work trip, and I was worried about having to stand beside a “vote yes” volunteer who’d pull the wedding dress stunt. (Guess the sanctity of marriage doesn’t extend to the gown.) But that didn’t happen, and most people took our fliers if they took a sample ballot from the party representatives who were there. Sometimes they’d say, “I don’t need any handouts, I’ve made up my mind.” (I understand completely; I’m usually one of those people.) But they’d take the flier after I told them I was with a nonpartisan group encouraging people to vote no, sometimes even if they didn’t want a sample ballot. At our precinct, the percentages were almost exactly the same as for senator, so it may be that people followed the sample ballot for their particular party.

    In a lot of cases, there wasn’t enough time to get out the entire script, and all I could say was, “Have you read the full text of the marriage amendment? We’re just trying to inform people before they vote, and you’ll have time to read this while in the long line inside. We’re encouraging people to vote NO — it goes too far.” One woman, pretty clearly a “vote yes” person, hurried past me but took the flier, and all I could say was, “please preserve the Bill of Rights and vote no!” She gave me a startled double-take, like, “that might actually work!”. And at the risk of generalizing, I might add that most if not all voters from racial minorities were willing to stop and read what I was handing out; they seemed more concerned about restricting rights.

    In short, Election Day was a lot different than the primary and town elections, where we talked to people after they voted. Previously, more people were willing to stop and listen. Then again, it may have been the weather this time, or the robo-calls that left them tiring of hearing about politics.

    I look forward to hearing how the followup meeting in Arlington went.

  25. Jonathan says:

    The Wisconsin State Journal calls their loss a victory. Marriage vote isn’t super glue

  26. Jonathan says:

    The Connection Newspapers provided a good set of election day stories.

    Here’s the view from the “winners circle”

    “I just feel marriage is a legal thing between a man and a woman, and that’s how I voted,” said Heather Daugherty of Reston, as she left a precinct pushing her son in a stroller Tuesday morning. “It’s Christian related.”

    IT’S THE RESPONSE the Republican-controlled General Assembly banked on when it added the amendment to this year’s ballot, hoping to spur conservative turnout.

  27. Jonathan says:

    And more proof that 1) the AG’s explanation was used as a campaign tool and 2) the social scientists at the Institute for American Values are part of the AGI, here is a LTE from the Fairfax Connection:

    To the Editor:
    Virginians are about to vote on the future of marriage. How informed are we? Read the local papers and you will only hear mention of tolerance, equality and concerns that passing the amendment could affect existing rights and laws. Virginians deserve to hear the other side. Getting at the truth allows voters to see what is really at stake if we choose not to protect marriage.
    The Attorney General, General Assembly and State Board of Elections have all provided public statements dismissing concerns regarding benefits, rights, contracts, wills and loss of protection for domestic violence victims (, September 2006 Opinions). In 2004, Virginia passed the Marriage Affirmation Act, prohibiting legal recognition of gay or lesbian civil unions. Discussion swirled then with similar concerns. The ACLU has sought plaintiffs for the last two years, and Virginia has yet to see a single case. The argument of “unintended consequences” is simply invalid. The amendment will not change current law in any way. Regarding domestic violence protection, Chris Freund of the Family Foundation recently said, “Of all the arguments opponents are making, this is the most despicable.” Virginia’s domestic violence laws apply to households. There is no mention of the marital relationship. This amendment will not affect the enforcement of domestic violence laws in any way in Virginia. To scare real victims, women who are real victims, into thinking that somehow this amendment is going to take away their protection, when they know that is not the case, goes far beyond having a reasonable debate over what this amendment will do.
    So what if we choose not to protect marriage with an amendment? Gay marriage advocates recently published a document called “Beyond Marriage.” It ran as a full-page ad several months ago in the New York Times and openly acknowledged that the gay agenda is to secure government protection for any combination of relationships involving two, three, or more people, regardless of gender. Their idea of alternative families includes, “Children being raised in multiple households or by unmarried parents, households in which there is more than one conjugal partner (polygamy, polyamory), and queer couples who decide to jointly create and raise a child with another queer person or couple, in two households.” Those were their words. The language is breathtaking. And with no mention to the welfare of the child or the child’s best interest. Their definition of marriage is really the abolition of marriage as we know it. See
    One hundred top scholars from liberal and conservative universities recently signed their names to a new document called “Marriage and the Law, A Statement of Principles”. They say family law seriously errs when it imagines “marriage as just one of many equally valid lifestyles.” Read more at
    What about religious liberty and “sexual liberty?” Experts on both sides of the issue are saying the two will inevitably clash. In a forum held by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, legal experts, both liberal and conservative, concluded that broadly legalizing same-sex marriage would roll back religious freedom for everyone in spheres of taxation, charitable giving, housing, public accommodations and professional licensure.
    Boston Catholic Charities is the prime example, forced to close their doors in March 2006 because they could no longer be licensed by the state of Massachusetts (where same-sex marriage is legal) if they refused to place adoptive children with same-sex couples. Ethically, they were left with no choice.
    If sexuality becomes a “human-rights” issue, no exception can be made for any church or charitable organization that feels morally opposed to same-sex marriage and/or families. To read more, go to
    To believe our historic, cross-cultural understanding of marriage is a form of bigotry is a destructive message for everyone. Especially when research repeatedly shows that children do much better in households with both a mother and a father. There is a difference between single parents making the best of a difficult situation and intentionally creating motherless or fatherless families.
    If we care about the common good, the rights of all (rather than the “sexual right” of a few), and most importantly, the well-being of children, we will vote to protect marriage. A vote for marriage has nothing to do with discrimination. It has everything to do with preserving democracy, building stable families, and doing what is best for Virginia.

    Catherine Arveseth

  28. Coco says:

    Well said Ms. Catherine Arveseth!!

  29. Jonathan says:


    I’ve demoted your email address to trigger moderation. This forum is not a cheering section for bad behavior. If your future comments contribute to the discussion, they will be released from moderation.

  30. Coco says:

    I thought you posted Ms. Arveseth’s letter to bring people out of darkness and into the light. Thanks for posting it. It has opened my eyes to the truth. I will not be visiting anymore. Wish you best.

  31. Jonathan says:

    Sorry Coco, I was a bit heavy handed with your comment. I’ve added Ms. Arveseth’s letter to our “Hall of Shame” where it belongs. Your welcome to visit and comment, but please try to add honest information to the conversation. Do you honestly think that I experienced a Divine conversion after reading Catherine’s letter? If you did, your eyes are closed. Did the letter change your views about same-sex marriage?

    I’ve taken you out of moderation.