Saying "No" On Another Level

What is one of the best (or worst) parts of election season? Bumper stickers.

For decades, the rear bumper of our vehicle always told the story of where we stand politically. The Presidential candidate of our choice is emblazed on the back of our vehicle. Statewide or local candidates we favor the most – even causes we believe in – also take up space to let motorists behind us know how we will vote on election day.

The political bumper sticker is an art onto itself. It is not to state how we will approach the vehicle in front of us, but rather how the political temperature of a location truly is. We may often see more stickers of a particular candidate or side of a ballot measure than its rival – an indicator of where the polls are going.

LGBT motorists have this down as an art. When you have four states with ballot measures involving marriage equality issues, you can expect us to step up our support that favors our side.

Minnesota is no exception. The measure codifying the state constitution making the traditional definition of marriage permanent has electrified the LGBT community throughout Minnesota. By measure of the number of vehicles and their stickers, the "No" side opposing the amendment seems to be winning. However, the polls conducted by various media outlets across Minnesota tell a different story – the measure is currently too close to call.

That has not stopped the momentum of the state's LGBT community and its allies opposing the ballot measure. In fact, the supporters of the opposing side have stepped up their game.

So has Richard Herod III. He has taken the "Vote No" message off of the rear bumper and made it larger than life. Herod's idea began as a response to a rule imposed against him – right at his home.

Three weeks ago, Herod's townhome owner's association asked him to remove the yard sign from his lawn, citing one of the association's rules. While fighting the association, Herod decided to offset the removal of his yard sign to displaying the same anti-amendment stance on his own Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution.

The townhome association changed their ruling one week ago, allowing yard signs. However, the decal job on Herod’s Evo took on another life entirely.

After Herod, the general manager of a local dealership, posted a photo of his Evo with the "Vote No" message, some of his friends asked how he did – and if they could get their vehicles applied with the decals. Subsequently, Herod e-mailed his story and picture of his blue Evo, which was posted on the Facebook page of Minnesotans United for All Families, the campaign opposing the ballot measure. The Evo picture, and Herod's story has more likes on it than any other story on that page this month. Currently, Herod’s original photo about 1,000 likes along with 100 shares on Facebook. It was named the Most Liked photo on the popular social media networking site so far this month.

Once the photo of Herod's vehicle was shared on the Minnesotans United for All Families Facebook page, interest in having their vehicle applied with the big decals grew tremendously.

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So far, Herod applied the decals to fourteen vehicles, including one of the founders of Minnesotans United for All Families and Executive Director of Project 515. On the day I caught up with Herod, he was doing five different vehicles at a friend’s home in Minneapolis.

The decals begin as a vinyl adhesive that is applied to the vehicle. Applying the decal is a careful task, ensuring that the three parts of the "kit" fit on the side and back of the vehicle. The rear part – the tag line for the campaign – is designed to fit on rear windows, bumpers or on the trunk/liftgate.

There is a fee for the decal, but Herod gives his time on applying the decals and will give a donation to Minnesotans United for All Families. It comes in three different "kits," depending on the color of the vehicle. After the election, the decals can be removed with help from a hair dryer.

For the people displaying their support to defeat the ballot measure, it is an extension of the campaign message. An entire vehicle becomes a mobile billboard that speaks louder than a bumper sticker or a yard sign. While the pro-amendment forces took to billboards to make their case, the decal project seems to be a more effective in terms of driving the message to more places at a greater scale. It is portable in terms of the size and application rather than a full vehicle wrap or even a single small bumper sticker.

According to Herod, the response so far has been overwhelmingly positive and supportive from within and beyond the LGBT community. So far, there had been no reports of negative reactions or actions against any vehicle displaying these decals. He continues to apply the decals, with a possible "decaling" party in the works for one of the weekends leading up to Election Day.

As the race continues to be too close to call, the argument for marriage equality in Minnesota became louder. All you need to do is look on the side of the vehicle that just passed you.

All photos by Randy Stern

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