Press Release

For Immediate Release                                        

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Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123,
New Report Finds Conventional Wisdom on
CA’s Proposition 8 Ballot Loss Based on Myth

Report shows parents with children under age 18 were decisive factor in passage, voter confusion obscured support, and Prop 8 would have passed by 1 million votes based on voter intent


August 3, 2010, Los Angeles. … The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender  (LGBT) Mentoring Project today released a sweeping and comprehensive independent report which analyzes 10,000 pages of data unreleased during the Prop 8 campaign and concludes that many common conceptions of why the No on 8 campaign lost the November 2008 ballot measure are factually wrong.

Following the passage of Proposition 8 in 2008, media coverage initially and misleadingly attributed African-American support for the proposition as a leading or primary reason for the LGBT community’s loss. This report corrects the record by providing data and analysis that show exactly why same-sex marriage lost in California.

The Prop 8 Report  documents that the Yes on 8 campaign successfully exploited anti-gay prejudice through a series of provocative TV ads, leading to a 10-point swing in public opinion against marriage equality. These anti-gay TV ads primarily targeted parents, who moved toward support for Proposition 8 by large margins.  In the final six weeks of the campaigns, after exposure to TV ads on which both sides spent a combined $60 million, approximately 687,000 voters moved towards favoring the ban on same-sex marriage, more than 500,000 of them parents with children under the age of 18 living at home.  Other groups of voters who moved away from same-sex marriage in large numbers included white Democrats, Independents, and voters in the Greater Bay Area.  Prop 8 passed by a margin of just under 600,000 votes.

The data also show that voter confusion worked in favor of same-sex marriage advocates. Had all voters understood how to vote to express their opinions on this issue, Prop 8 would have passed 54% to 46%, by a one million-vote margin, approximately 400,000 votes more than the official 52%-to-48% tally. The report concludes that in future elections where same-sex marriage advocates will need to seek a “Yes” vote in favor of marriage equality, wrong-way voting is likely to be very low.  As a result, the report finds that reversing Prop 8 in a Presidential election year will require overcoming a one-million vote deficit.

The report also finds that the “No on 8” campaign had some success combating the Yes on 8 ads targeting parents and stimulating ungrounded fears about children, but only after it offered a direct rebuttal in its TV ads.  No on 8’s two-week delay in rebutting Yes on 8’s charges was a costly mistake, the report concludes.  The report also notes a similar reluctance by the No on 1 campaign for same-sex marriage in Maine to directly engage such parent-targeted fear-mongering, and that timidity on this subject has historically been a weakness of campaigns against anti-gay ballot measures.

“The report still provides reason for optimism,” says David Fleischer, the report’s author, who spent two years researching and writing the report.  “To win, we need to understand why we have lost so many times.  The data in this report give us clear explanations for why we keep losing, and having that insight is the first step toward victory in future elections,” Fleischer concluded. 

The report contains a number of recommendations for winning marriage equality around the country, including preempting and rebutting rather than avoiding attacks that exploit anti-gay prejudice, using the time between campaigns to gain additional insight and experience to directly rebut anti-gay attacks, conducting more and better research that is less dependent on polling, and trying out voter communications that focus on the diversity and lived experience of LGBT Americans and those who know us.

About David Fleischer

Fleischer founded the LGBT Mentoring Project in 2007 to provide mentoring, coaching, training and support to leaders of LGBT organizations and campaigns fighting anti-gay ballot measures around the country.  He recently joined the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center to manage its new leadership LAB program, which includes the Center’s Vote for Equality campaign and the LGBT Mentoring Project.  Previously, he created and ran the national training program of the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund (1993-98) and the organizing and training department of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (1999-2006).  Fleischer has helped lead or support campaigns opposing anti-gay ballot measures since 1993.

“The Prop 8 Report” and supporting data and related video are available online at

The LGBT Mentoring Project is hiring

posted Dec 9, 2009, 10:40 AM by Christopher Allen   [ updated Dec 14, 2009, 11:05 AM ]

Senior Mentor-Organizer 

Background on the Organization 
    The LGBT Mentoring Project provides mentoring, coaching, training, and support to LGBT and allied political leaders who are committed to building larger, stronger, much more effective organizations working to secure LGBT rights. 

    Mentor-organizers work side-by-side with established leaders, new potential leaders, and leadership teams. Partner organizations in the past year have included the Vote for Equality Project of the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center, EqualityMaine, and Ask Cleveland. 

    The Mentoring Project is the first project in LGBT community to provide consistent, frequent, face-to-face, one-on-one, on-site mentoring. We believe this type of mentoring is essential to identify and develop great leaders and teams. The Mentoring Project is a pilot—an experiment—to test this hypothesis, and to see if this form of intensive mentoring produces measurable results in organizational growth, strength, and productivity. The experiment has shown enough promise to date that we’ve expanded it each year over the last three years. 

Description of the Position
    The Mentoring Project would prefer to hire a full-time mentor-organizer based in Los Angeles who would both work closely with Vote for Equality and also with a small number of other organizations, some in California, some around the country. We would also consider hiring a part-time mentor-organizer not based in Los Angeles, with the understanding that a significant part of the work would require travel to Los Angeles. 

    A strong candidate for mentor-organizer must already be a terrific organizer. You can’t teach it if you haven’t done it. You must have practical experience taking initiative, and recruiting a team to take action with you. You must be terrific at: 

    • making a strong ask – a strong ask is one where, face-to-face, you ask people to make a specific commitment to get active in a campaign, and they make a commitment, and then they show up and live up to that commitment;

    • doing a 1-on-1—that means talking with a volunteer face-to-face, identifying their self-interest in getting involved, and recruiting them to take on a job that excites them, plays to their strengths, and moves the campaign forward; 

    • recruiting large numbers of volunteers face-to-face and on the phone, and motivating them so they actually get involved doing political work; 

    • teaching practical political skills and problem-solving; and 

    • increasing the number of volunteers who become leaders. 

Experience organizing on LGBT community issues is a plus. 

Experience working to defeat an anti-gay ballot measure is a big plus. 

Fluency in Spanish is a plus. 

Experience organizing in communities of color is a plus. 

Experience building a strong LGBT political organization or campaign is a plus. 

    Experience as a mentor is crucial. As part of your organizing, you should have gained experience not only motivating others to do their best, but also motivating others to reexamine their habits and assumptions; to be open to new ideas; to experiment with new forms of action, even when that means going outside of their comfort zone. 

    Also, you must be the kind of person from whom others want to receive coaching and mentoring. You’ve got to be interesting, smart, and kind. You need both a sense of humor, and a deep and abiding interest in the people you’re working with. You have to have respect and curiosity about people, whether they are new volunteers or old-timers, whether they rank high in the organization or not. And you have to communicate that respect, and the joy you find in your public relationships. 

The two most important aspects of this are: 
    1. You have to enjoy catching people doing something right and, when you do, you have to enjoy praising them for what they’ve done; and 
    2. You have to notice when people do something wrong and, when you do, you have to embrace the necessity of giving them clear, specific criticism in a humane way. As much as you need people to like you, you have to regularly take the risk of being disliked. You need to be far more direct and honest than the norm – and you have to offer your critique with genuine kindness. 

    You must be outstanding at listening, observing, and asking questions, and at least reasonably good at speaking, reading, and writing. Excellence in this entire range of communications skills is a big plus. 

    Finally, in our experience, you must be self-critical. That means: even when you do something well, you’re intensely curious about how you can do it better next time. You push yourself to aim higher. You regularly seek out advice and ideas from others, not to substitute for your own judgment, but to augment and challenge it. 

Supervisor: Dave Fleischer, director of the Project 

Compensation: Equivalent to an annual, full-time salary of $50,000 - $80,000, depending upon experience and capability. 

Start date: February 21, 2010 

To apply, please send a cover letter and your resume to 

The LGBT Mentoring Project is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. We particularly encourage applications from women and people of color.

The Mentoring Project's Dave Fleischer talks about Prop 8 and polling in Frontiers in LA magazine.

posted Dec 7, 2009, 11:24 AM by Christopher Allen   [ updated Dec 15, 2009, 7:16 AM by David Caldwell ]

In the Frontiers IN LA article, Dave is quoted urging caution when looking at polling data around marriage equality and discussing some numbers surrounding the passage of Prop 8. Regina Clemente, of Vote For Equality, also talks about VFE's canvassing program; the Mentoring Project collaborates with VFE on this program.

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