"Everyone has to be ready to have difficult conversations NOW," said Kate Kendall (Exective Director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and one of the architects of the No On Prop 8 campaign) at an event last night that was a hybrid of town hall, panel discussion, and mass-group-therapy. She was talking about having challenging talks with potential allies who still need some winning-over, but she might as well have been referring to the event itself. It was, by the standards of consensus-happy San Francisco, a pretty tough room.

Onstage were a handful of folks who held varying levels of responsibility for Prop 8, and were now exhibiting varying levels of sheepishness. Mark Leno, Tom Ammiano, and Andrea Shorter kicked things off with some nice words -- particularly well-received was Mark's observation that since the vote a few years ago, gay marriage is now 18 points closer to being the official will of the people, and those are 18 points that our enemies will never get back. There was a short introduction of the moderators (two local journalists) and the panelists (Field Director Dan Hawes, Campaign Manager Steve Smith, Director of API Equality Tawal Panyacosit, NCLR's Kate Kendall, and Equality California's Geoff Kors), and then the floor was opened to the generally irate public.

Kate Kendall, in our opinion, was a real charmer -- identifying mistakes, apologizing, speaking honestly while still exorcising diplomacy. On the other side of the charm chart was probably Steve Smith, who was casual and calm but matter-of-fact and not particularly contrite. He was particularly prone to using a tense we've heard called the "Past Exonerative": . For example, "it should have taken 36 to 48 hours" to respond to the ads about education, he said, but instead, "it took nine days." Oh, really, that's good to know, Mister Campaign Manager.

Steve also mentioned that he managed the No On Prop 4 campaign at the same time that he was working on No On Prop 8. What a busy guy! We wonder how he could possibly have found the time to simultaneously manage both high-profile projects. Must be really good at multitasking, amirite?

After the jump: juicy gossip.

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