Boycott for Tradition

On October 8, a group called Boycott for Equality wants to wreak havoc on the nation’s economic system. The planned event includes several components: a one-day sick out, no spending for goods and services such as gas, food and clothing, one day business closings, a halt to cell phone use and a coordinated withdraw of $80 from the nation’s ATMs. Is this some new terrorist ploy to undermine our economy? Is Michael Moore behind this somehow? No, this effort is designed to show the nation that gay marriage should be the law of the land.

BFE wants gay and straight supporters to withdraw $80 from ATM machines on October 8, 2004. According the organization’s news release $80 is about the same amount of money put into the economy by each gay, lesbian and bisexual daily. By doing these things, supporters say, the nation will feel the economic impact of gay and lesbian consumers.

Now I don’t know if this is a good idea. It sounds like that spam email that goes around every now and then about gasoline companies. You know, let’s all boycott the gas stations on one day and then the companies will know how beholden they are to the consumers. Problem is what about the next day? My car gets thirsty after awhile and I need to fill up. Seems like normal driving defeats the purpose.

I think similar things may take place concerning the Boycott for Equality. Money comes out of the ATM and then it just sits there? What about the rest of the weekend? Won’t it just get spent sometime later?

I also got to thinking about how this might backfire for the good folks at BFE. I don’t think my wife would exactly qualify as a straight supporter of the political efforts of the boycotters but she would be thrilled to be a part of a mass ATM withdrawal. In fact, I think she would see it as a kind of ATM poker: I’ll see your 80 dollars and withdraw 80 more.

And another thing, how will banks know that gay money is being withdrawn? I am at a loss to understand this.  How will banks be able to tell how much impact the boycotters are having versus straights just wanting extra money for the long holiday weekend? Do the boycotters really think the banks will run out of money? I don’t think we will see signs on ATMs saying: “Miss this ATM? Vote same sex marriage!”

I am skeptical that such an effort will do much good. The very next Monday on the 11th, gays and lesbians celebrate National Coming Out Day. I’ll bet that 80 dollars and more will be spent on the festivities during the week of Coming Out Day. Won’t that serve to offset the boycott?

Basically, such efforts miss the point. Supporters of gay marriage, in this case the Boycott for Equality, assume that economics drives the thinking of voters and others who may or may not support gay marriage. No one is disputing that people who are gay identified spend and make money. However, for the vast majority of people who vote against gay marriage, such as those recently in Missouri and Louisiana, the issue is not economic. It is traditional morality.

I suppose you could say the voters of Missouri and Louisiana had their own boycott recently – a boycott for tradition.