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Coming out of the Closet

Exploring LGBT Issues in Strategic Communication with Theory and Research

Natalie T.J. Tindall and Richard D. Waters

Despite representing significant portions of the advertising, marketing, and public relations work force, the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) community has largely been ignored by scholarly research in strategic communications. With the exception of case studies that document strategies that can be used to secure the LGBT consumer dollar, little has been done to understand the LGBT community’s experiences with strategic communications efforts. This edited volume fills this gap by sharing research on the impact and interaction of campaigns and programming from advertising, marketing, and public relations on internal (e.g., practitioners and employees) and external (e.g., consumers, activists) stakeholders from the LGBT community. Several chapters in this volume highlight a significant change in the focus of strategic communications that recognizes the long-term benefits of having legitimate partnerships; others, however, counter this optimistic trend by discussing the continued struggles of practitioners working in strategic communication and the LGBT community at large.
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Chapter 13: Strategically Framing Same-Sex Marriage: Lessons From California’s 2008 “Proposition 8” Campaign


Hayley Cole

In November 2008, Californians voted and passed “Proposition 8,” which affirmed an amendment to the California constitution stating that marriage was to be between a man and a woman. Between January 1, 2008, and December 31, 2008, campaigns for the opposing sides of the “Proposition 8” vote raised collectively over $83 million (Shin, 2009), setting national records for a social policy ballot initiative (Ewers, 2008). In the end, California voters supported the Proposition 8 campaign, with 52.3% of the vote (Ehrenreich, 2008), legally taking away same-sex marriage rights that had previously been granted by the California Supreme Court. According to the Supreme Court of California (2008), same-sex couples had the right to marry because to not allow them the right to marry subjected them to unfair treatment and was unconstitutional:

The substantive right to marry, as embodied in Cal. Const., art. I, §§ 1 and 7, guarantees same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples to choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship that enjoys all of the constitutionally based incidents of marriage. The challenged provisions posed a serious risk of denying the official family relationship of same-sex couples the equal dignity and respect that is a core element of the fundamental constitutional right to marry. The statutes also violated California’s equal protection clause. (Cal. Const., art. I, § 7)


In reaching that conclusion, the court held that statutes imposing differential...

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