Gay rights advocates ponder best way to flex their economic power

The results of last month's Prop. 8 initiative in California have fired up gay equality advocates, and they're taking their protests to the ledger sheet.

On Wednesday, to prove to American businesses just how much gay Americans means to their bottom line, some groups are encouraging gay and lesbian citizens to not show up for work. They will, in essence, "call in gay" and make Dec. 10 a "Day Without a Gay."

There are plenty of people within the gay community who don't see this kind of protest as particularly useful, largely because it's so unfocused and, as Washington PR man Bob Witeck points out, gay people work in so many fields, which diffuses the impact. If the point is to prove to businesses that money from gay customers is vital to their bottom lines, this kind of protest isn't likely to accomplish it. People are spending less right now, anyway, so it's not as if a dip in profits from gay spenders is going to be discernible from the general malaise that's keeping pocketbooks clamped shut. Besides, there are plenty of people committed to equality rights for gay Americans who aren't willing to say so in a way that puts their employment in jeopardy.