As soon as the California Supreme Court said it would take up the standing question asked by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the American Foundation for Equal Rights Perry v. Brown case (formerly Perry v Schwarzenegger), on the constitutionality of Prop 8,
Californians started murmuring about whether or not there should be an effort to repeal Prop 8 in 2012 since no one knows just how long it will take the California court to issue an opinion. Then the 9th Circuit said it would not lift the stay on District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that Prop 8 was unconstitutional and same sex couples in California should be allowed to exercise their fundamental right to marry. That decision infuriated many who tried to decide what to do next. (See the Courage Campaign's Prop 8 Trial Tracker, which has been following the Prop 8 case closely.)
While attitudes towards marriage equality have changed (see Freedom to Marry, which has tons of information), the decision to launch another expensive ballot initiative will be a difficult one - especially in this economy. Political pundits now guesstimate that the Obama presidential re-election campaign could cost up to a billion dollars - and this time it will be raised from the more "traditional" donors, not so much from the $5 contributor as in 2008. Additionally, the No on Prop 8 union backers have their own struggles defending the right to collective bargaining, which is under assault in a number of key electoral states such as Wisconsin and Ohio.
Now Equality California has decided to bring the question to the people. In a press release Monday, EQCA announced that the organization will hold ten town hall meetings around the state (one online) and has launched a survey to try to determine a consensus on what the best course of action may be. They will announce the results by Labor Day.
Here's the link to Marc Solomon's report on why EQCA wanted to wait until 2012, if then, to return to the ballot during the debate between 2010 and 2012.
Here's the EQCA press release:
Equality California Announces Community Town Halls, Polling to Discuss Possible Repeal of Prop 8 in 2012
San Francisco - Because legal experts are advising that the Proposition 8 federal challenge could take years to resolve, Equality California is launching a community engagement initiative to start a discussion on whether to return to the ballot in 2012 to repeal the marriage ban or whether to wait for a final decision by the courts. Before making any recommendation, Equality California will survey its membership, hold 10 town halls across the state and an online town hall, conduct a poll of likely 2012 voters, consult with political experts, coalition partners and engage with its members and the LGBT community. Equality California will announce results of polling and analysis by Labor Day.
"For two people who love each other and want to be married it is heartbreaking that an unfair law keeps them and their families apart," said Jim Carroll, Equality California interim executive director. "We were truly optimistic that the court case to overturn Prop 8 would restore marriage equality by the end of 2010 or early this year, making a ballot measure unnecessary. Despite the amazing work of the dedicated lawyers leading this effort, there is no guarantee how or when the courts will ultimately rule.
"As a community, we will figure out together whether we wait until the courts rule or whether we repeal Prop 8 at the ballot box. We urge LGBT community members and our allies to join the conversation."
Details and a complete schedule for community town halls are forthcoming with initial meetings scheduled for San Francisco on May 19, West Hollywood on May 25 and San Diego on June 2.
U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Prop 8 was unconstitutional in August 2010. However, that same month the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay, preventing same-sex couples from marrying while the case is on appeal.
On January 4, 2011, the federal appeals court asked the California Supreme Court for guidance on an issue related to whether the sponsors of Prop 8 have standing to pursue an appeal. The California Supreme Court said will consider the question with oral arguments to be held as early as September, meaning a decision likely would not come until the end of this year at the earliest.
To take the survey, please visit: www.eqca.org/Prop8survey
Cross-posted at LGBT POV