Sunday, March 15, 2009

Weekly 08-B voting wrapup

Here's an 08-B vote wrapup for the week ending March 15 that includes all of the presbytery votes that I know about, March 8-15.

There seems to be a general correlation between the total "no" vote count and the anxiety level of the More Light community, however my thought would be that people should in general take this round of voting like any other: as an opportunity to win hearts and minds for equality. This isn't the first such opportunity to have a conversation, and it won't be the last. If 08-B doesn't pass this time around, it will pass eventually. And if 08-B does pass this time around, the Presbyterian equality movement isn't going anywhere -- there will be more conversations to have over more years, about marriage equality, about adding non-discrimination language to the Book of Order, about diversity/inclusion/empowerment, and so on.


Yes votes: 7
No votes: 8
No-to-yes flips: 1 out of a target 1
Previous "yes" presbyteries held at "yes": 5

Presbyteries shifting pro-equality: 11
Presbyteries shifting anti-equality 3 (of which 2 are statistical noise)

Nasty surprises: 0
Amazingly positive surprises (unexpected flips): 1 (Transylvania)
Annoyances: 2 (Nevada, Pittsburgh)

This was a good week -- we held all presbyteries that previously voted pro-equality, we flipped one presbytery (Eastminster) that was a likely flip, plus an additional presbytery (Transylvania) flipped that I wouldn't have expected. We also shifted from unanimous-no to not-unanimous-no in Hanmi, a transition that we should call out and celebrate.

As I mentioned in a previous post (March 14), the current presbytery vote counts are heavily skewed towards "no" due to early voting by anti-LGBT presbyteries and late voting by pro-LGBT presbyteries. We might start to see this skew diminish a bit over the next few weeks, simply because we're starting to run out of "likely no" presbyteries. However there are still over a dozen of them, so we should expect to see plenty of additional "no" votes over time.

Now here are the presbytery vote counts and percentages, for those who like to dive into the numbers. I've got these categorized as annoyances, neutral, slightly positive, and successes, since those categories have been working OK for me so far.


2001-2 01-A: 137 yes, 277 no --> 33.1% YES
2009 08-B: 105 yes, 206 no --> 33.8% YES (+0.7%)

I wouldn't have expected Pittsburgh to vote in favor of 08-B, and they didn't, so they're only in the "annoyance" category because of the statistically insignificant pro-equality shift. We've seen many other presbyteries in the 30% pro-equality support range shift quite a lot towards equality, so in my ideal world I would have liked to have seen a 7 or 8% pro-LGBT shift.

2001-2 01-A: 20 yes, 41 no --> 32.8% YES
2009 08-B: 13 yes, 59 no --> 18.1% YES (-14.7%)

Nevada was the only presbytery in this week's wrapup to have a significant anti-equality shift. Given the low total vote count, it's easy to have this sort of large percentage shift, however we really should have been able to manage at least something in the high 30% range for 08-B support. However the presbytery isn't one that I would have expected to vote "yes", so there's not an expected presbytery "yes" vote here that was lost.


Here in the "neutral" category are two safe-yes presbyteries that had statistically insignificant anti-equality shifts, plus San Juan which again chose to take a voice "no" vote, as they did in 2001-2. It's not possible to determine which way San Juan presbytery is trending if they keep taking voice votes.

Northern New England
2001-2 01-A: 75 yes, 40 no --> 65.2% YES
2009 08-B: 56 yes, 30 no --> 65.1% YES (-0.1%)

New Brunswick
2001-2 01-A: 113 yes, 50 no --> 69.3% YES
2009 08-B: 95 yes, 44 no --> 68.3% YES (-1%)

San Juan
2001-2 01-A: voice - no
2009 08-B: voice - no


Here in the "slightly positive" section we have a mixture of presbyteries that voted "no" but had pro-equality voting trends, and of presbyteries that held at "yes".

2001-2 01-A: 0 yes, 70 no --> 0% YES
2009 08-B: 1 yes, 30 no --> 3.2% YES (+3.2%)

Congratulations to Hanmi for shifting out of the "unanimous no" category, and special thanks to the single unknown voter who made this possible. Perhaps this is the beginning of a longer-term pro-equality trend in Hanmi presbytery. The moment that a deliberative body shifts from "all of the same mind" to "some people have a different opinion", it opens up new opportunities for conversations.

San Gabriel
2001-2 01-A: 97 yes, 181 no --> 35% YES
2009 08-B: 79 yes, 136 no --> 37% YES (+2%)

Perhaps I should list San Gabriel under the "annoyances" section since it's still a rather small percentage pro-equality shift, but I figure I'll run with it and call it a "slight positive".

2001-2 01-A: 38 yes, 63 no --> 37.6% YES
2009 08-B: 39 yes, 48 no --> 44.8% YES (+7.2%)

Providence now moves out of "likely no" into the "target to flip" category.

Twin Cities
2001-2 01-A: 197 yes, 112 no --> 64% YES
2009 08-B: 138 yes, 54 no --> 72% YES (+8%)

Lake Michigan
2001-2 01-A: 92 yes, 59 no --> 61% YES
2009 08-B: 94 yes, 42 no --> 69% YES (+8%)

Both Twin Cities and Lake Michigan hold at safe-for-equality status and increase their yes votes by 8%. Nicely done.

Muskingum Valley
2001-2 01-A: 51 yes, 117 no --> 30.4% YES
2009 08-B: 44 yes, 70 no --> 38.6% YES (+8.2%)

Muskingum Valley shows us how presbyteries in the low-30% support range can shift more than 1% (Pittsburgh) or 2% (San Gabriel).

2001-2 01-A: 179 yes, 112 no --> 61.5% YES
2009 08-B: 150 yes, 48 no --> 75.8% YES (+14.2%)

Cascades joins the ranks of numerous pro-equality presbyteries in demonstrating that you can keep moving up in support, sometimes significantly.


2001-2 01-A: 18 yes, 94 no --> 16% YES
2009 08-B: 42 yes, 53 no --> 44% YES (+28%)

Riverside is another example of how strong anti-equality presbyteries can make big pro-equality shifts partly because there's a long distance to go. 28% is a huge shift and, amazingly, moves Riverside from "extremely LGBT-hostile" into "target to flip". The anti-gay contingent of the PCUSA can't be very happy about this particular vote.

2001-2 01-A: 54 yes, 65 no --> 45.4% YES
2009 08-B: 60 yes, 39 no --> 60.6% YES (+15.2%)

Eastminster was a candidate to flip from "no" to "yes" this year, and it did, strongly so with a 15% shift. This is excellent news.

2001-2 01-A: 50 yes, 80 no --> 37.6% YES
2009 08-B: 83 yes, 61 no --> 57.6% YES (+20%)

And rounding out the week in review we have our "amazingly positive surprise" for the week in Transylvania, starting from a high-30% level of pro-equality support and shifting a full 20% to become an unexpected no-to-yes flip. The Transylvania vote totals of 2009 are almost the reverse of the vote count for 2001-2. Many thanks to all of the LGBT equality supporters and voters in Transylvania -- this was a particularly nice piece of news to hear during the past week.