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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Before the Wedding Dance: Citizen Policymaking on Same-Sex Marriage

  • Author(s): Fisher, Shauna F.
  • et al.

While activists have the public in mind when engaging in framing activity throughout a long policy struggle, ballot measure campaigns create a context in which the public and policymakers are closely related audiences. Lacking the formal deliberative mechanisms present in other institutional venues, voters as policymakers rely almost entirely on information, framing, and cues from groups involved in direct legislation. California is the only state where voters approved two different measures prohibiting same-sex marriage: Proposition 22 in 2000 and Proposition 8 in 2008. Thus, it offers a useful case study for studying activist groups' messaging and framing in the context of policymaking via ballot measures. This paper relies on campaign materials from Proposition 22 and Proposition 8 to examine whether or not activists learn from and alter their messaging strategies based on prior campaigns and changed legal and political contexts.

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