The Capitol Resource Institute launched an online campaign to repeal the California FAIR Education Act using a slick new email message and a new campaign website called StopSB48. The campaign also updated the CRI main website, which had not posted anything new since 2010. Their "Action Alert" page is still blank with only the date March 12, 2009.
But their new campaign website has the look of money – such as bought stock photos of generic happy white and black families – and there’s someone keeping an eye on the media. In a Capitol Alert story last Friday, July 22 about CRI filing papers to launch a referendum, the end of the story says: "Updated at 2:30 p.m. to add comments by Karen England and Brad Dacus, and to indicate that the referendum drive is being conducted by a coalition of groups." That’s Karen England of CRI and Brad Dacus of the right-wing Pacific Justice Institute. But unfortunately, Capitol Alert didn’t ask for the names of the other coalition members, which the website identifies as a "coalition of pro-family organizations, parents, students, teachers and more."
The person taking point on the media is Paulo Sibaja, CRI's Director of Communications and Legislation. But take a look at this personal blog Red Country and it looks like Paulo is out to be the next Frank Schubert. Plus he has right wing political connections:
Paulo is a member of the California Republican Assembly, the state's oldest conservative group referred to as the conscience of the Republican Party by President Ronald Reagan.
In 2008, he worked as a Lead at the Republican Headquarters in Chino Hills. There he organized phone banks, events, volunteer scheduling and more. The main purpose of the headquarters was to elect Curt Hagman to the State Assembly and Senator McCain and Governor Palin to the Executive Branch.
But of real interest is the messaging that's starting to emerge. This is from the Capitol Alert story:
Opponents of SB 48 contend that people should be judged by their work, not their sexual preference -- and that recognizing the latter is divisive and objectionable to families that disapprove of homosexual lifestyles for religious, moral or other reasons.
"We cannot afford to stay silent or stand on the sidelines," Brad Dacus, president of Pacific Justice Institute, said in a written statement. "Californians are extremely tolerant, but we draw the line when history is revised to please a special interest group."
Karen England, executive director of Capitol Resource Family Impact, an arm of Capitol Resource Institute, said that reaction to SB 48 "has been like nothing I've seen -- the outrage, the interest nationwide has been very positive to our side of things."
But their message also taps into concerns about public schools in the dire California economy:
Sacramento politicians have forgotten the true purpose for schools. Our public schools are not institutions for social engineering. Instead, they are academic institutions. SB 48 does absolutely nothing to reduce bullying, improve the state of our education system, ensure students graduate, or prepare them for global competitiveness. Instead it diverts precious classroom time and resources away from science, math, reading, and writing to promote the political agenda of a few.
And of course there's the push to involve evangelical churches.
Pastors and church leaders. Please download this letter that Pacific Justice Institute provided to clarify churches' legal rights to support the referendum to repeal SB 48.
And they tout the referendum process as "the People's Vote," giving voters worried about so many other issues a sense of feeling like they can control their own destiny on this one. From Paulo's fundraising email:
"SB 48 will teach children as young as five to not only accept but also endorse transgenderism, bisexuality, and homosexuality through our social sciences curriculum specially history, history books and instructional materials. SB 48, misrepresented to the public, was passed as a bill aimed to end bullying. But whatever the stated goal, the actual provisions of the bill say nothing about bullying. Instead, they require all public schools — including charter schools — to include studies on transgender, bisexual, and gay Americans in their social science courses. The sponsors have repeatedly said SB 48 would be integrated into courses for California students in grades K-12.
On Friday July 15th a broad and continuously expanding coalition of family advocacy groups filed the proper paper work with California’s Attorney General requesting a title and summary for a referendum.
A referendum is “the practice of referring measures proposed or passed by a legislative body to the vote of the electorate for approval or rejection.” In other words, if the legislature and governor approve a law such as SB 48, the people may step in and, via the ballot process, reverse the decision. We call it the People’s Veto.
The coalition, Stop SB 48 , seeks to collect over half a million signatures in order to stop the implementation of SB 48 on January 1, 2012. Stop SB 48 will rely on a strong grassroots effort to collect the necessary number of signatures, yet in order to run an effective signature gathering campaign Stop SB 48 will need your financial support. Forces in Sacramento wish to impose their extreme views on our children via our public school system; however, we have the opportunity to send a loud message to Sacramento.
You may visit www.stopsb48.com to make an online donation, receive email updates, sign the petition and much more.
As soon as Stop SB 48 has the title, language, and approval from California’s Attorney General, we will make petitions available. In the meantime, please sign up to be notified as soon as petitions are available.
SB 48 costs too much and it goes too far.
Join our efforts and tell Sacramento because they did not listen, the people will Stop SB 48. Make a donation of today.
Rex Wockner wrote about the initiative situation and the response from Equality California. He quotes EQCA's Roland Palencia in a recent fundraising email:
“As with Proposition 8, opponents of equality are ready to amass a huge financial war chest to misrepresent the law, spread more lies about LGBT people and turn back the clock on equality,” Palencia said. “To win, we’ll have to match them dollar for dollar and educate the public about the importance of the FAIR Education Act.”
But it’s not just about amassing a huge war chest – it’s about matching and reversing their message. LGBT people have historically been used as a scapegoat during trying economic times and coupled with the stereotype of gays and kids – their endlessly recycled message could have an impact. Their message – SB 48 costs too much and it goes too far – takes into account the progress LGBTs have made in securing equality in California but hints that LGBTs still want “special rights” that the average Californian shouldn’t have to pay for in this economy. Equality California and whatever coalition they’ve put together need to spell out in a captivating way why this is a disingenuous lie.
(Cross-posted at LGBTPOV)