Love Honor Cherish's ballot initiative proposed by gay attorney Thomas B. Watson to repeal Prop 8 was cleared on Thursday by the California Sec. of State to start gathering signatures. The Los Angeles-based grassroots group has until May 14, 2012 to collect 807,615 valid signatures in order to qualify for the Nov. 2012 ballot.
Love Honor Cherish Interim Executive Director Eric Harrison (Photo courtsey Love Honor Cherish)
The title and summary prepared for the petition reads:
Reinstates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.
Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion. Clarifies that the initiative shall not be interpreted to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: Over the long run, this measure would likely have little fiscal impact on state and local governments. (11-0058) (Full Text) [pdf]
A decision to move forward to at least be prepared to launch a repeal campaign was made by the grassroots group last October after Equality California decided not to lead a repeal effort because of the progress of the federal Prop 8 case and because they were concerned about community apathy and raising enough money to be successful.
LHC acknowledged that an effort failed in 2010 because it was basically an all-volunteer effort. This time, however, the group has hired former EQCA Development Director Eric Harrison as an Interim Executive Director to help the group raise money and help build and lead the repeal campaign.
There is a LHC fundraiser on Sunday, Dec. 18 from 5:00-7:00pm at the Modernist "Hughes Home" during with Harrison is expected to talk about new California polls showing increased support for marriage equality and how the group intends to move forward. (For more info on the LHC event, email: email@example.com)
The initiative - which is the same proposed in 2010 and vetted by LGBT lawyers - reads:
This amendment would amend an existing section of the California Constitution. Existing language proposed to be deleted is printed in strikeout type. Language proposed to be added is printed in underlined type.
Section 1. To protect religious freedom, no court shall interpret this measure to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person authorized to perform marriages by any religious denomination, church, or other non-profit religious institution to perform any marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. The refusal to perform a marriage under this provision shall not be the basis for lawsuit or liability, and shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any religious denomination, church or other religious institution.
Section 2. To provide for fairness in the government's issuance of marriage licenses, Section 7.5 of Article I of the California Constitution is hereby amended to read as follows: Sec. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.
“[Prop 8] is severely impacting people, loving couples who cannot get married. It has severely impacted me not being able to get married,” LHC board chair Tom Watson told Lisa Leff of AP. "It’s been more than three years since Prop 8, and a majority of California residents have realized that it is a mistake to deny loving same-sex couples the right to marry and are ready to reverse the mistake that was made at the ballot box. We should give them that opportunity.”
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is currently reviewing an appeal of District Court Judge Vaughn Walker's ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional. If the court upholds Walker's ruling and lifts the injunction against same sex couples getting married - LHC would not need to move forward with the initiative, Watson said. However, the losing side is expected to appeal to the US Supreme Court - which would probably entail leaving the stay in place until the case is settled. Watson thinks that's too long to wait for full equality.
“If that’s the case, that’s a pretty strong indication we should be seeking to repeal Prop 8 at the ballot,” he said.
(Crossposted on LGBTPOV)