Flashes of red and white filled Storke Plaza today on UCSB’s campus as a flurry of posters reading ‘Vote No on 4 & 8’ were waved at the rally against what are perhaps California’s most controversial propositions in the November 4 election.
The rally was sponsored by the Get Up Vote Down campaign, an active political organization on college campuses statewide. Its goal is to convince students to vote against Proposition 4 – which would require doctors to inform a guardian and wait 48 hours before performing abortions on girls under 18 – and Proposition 8 – which would amend the State Constitution to prohibit marriages between same-sex couples.
A star-studded lineup spoke at the event, including keynote speaker Candace Gingrich – the famous spokesperson for the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community and sister of former speaker of the house Newt Gingrich – who flew in from Washington, D.C., to express her support. Candace Gingrich energized the crowd with calls to help fight Props. 4 and 8. “We need people to base their decision on the truth, and the only way they’ll know the truth is if you tell them,” she urged.
When asked later if she thinks these rallies are effective in convincing people to vote no when they might be on the fence on the matter or even in support of such measures, Gingrich again emphasized the importance of spreading a message. “While most of the events I attend are like preaching to the choir, the important part is getting the choir to sing,” she said.
Hannah-Beth Jackson, the Democratic candidate for California’s 19th State Senate seat, also stirred the crowd with her words. When she encouraged everyone to “look forward to your future,” a lone protestor, who identified himself as Paul and had been periodically yelling over the speakers, screamed, “That’ll be hell!” Jackson responded quickly: “We want a world where we love each other. We want a nation whose government reflects our equality in God’s eyes,” she said, eliciting cheers from the crowd.
Congressmember Lois Capps, running for re-election as representative of the 23rd U.S. Congressional District and Doreen Farr, running for 3rd District county supervisor, also gave well-received speeches at the rally. Capps, similarly interrupted by Paul the protestor, responded, “This country and God are watching what we are going to do on Prop. 8.”
Reverend Nicole Jeanelle of Isla Vista’s St. Michael’s Episcopal Church also shared her support for voting no. “Gay and lesbian couples are valuable members of our community of faith,” she explained.
Aside from Paul the protestor, no other opposition appeared at the rally. Everyone interviewed had already decided to vote no on Prop. 8. Annie Young, an 18-year-old biology major, said, “While the presidential election is important, I registered on the last possible day mainly to vote no on [Proposition] 8.”
However, Keily Campagna, a freshman majoring in English, while certain to vote no on Proposition 8, shared her indecision about how to vote on Prop. 4. “On the whole abortion thing, I have views on both sides. It’s not black and white to me at all,” she explained after the rally was over. Her uncertainty also reflects statewide polls recently conducted by The Public Policy Institute of California and the Knights of Columbus by the Marist College Institute for Public Opinion, which have independently released conflicting results on the fate of Prop. 4.
One of the key organizers of the event and emcee at the rally, Amanda Wallner emphasized that her main goal of participating is to equip voters with information so they can make it through the numerous propositions and measures on voting day. She and the Get Up Vote Down campaign know there’s a long ballot of potentially confusing issues to decide on and want to ensure people don’t get overwhelmed. “We want people to feel confident in where they stand so they will vote all the way down the ballot next Tuesday,” she explained.