Karen Ocamb

Antigay Effort to Repeal California FAIR Act Fails - Again

Filed By Karen Ocamb | July 17, 2012 2:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: California FAIR Education Act, Gene Robinson, Love Free or Die, Stop SB 48

ClassAct1.jpgThere's a moment in the documentary Love Free or Die about the elevation of Bishop Gene Robinson when the full body of the Episcopal Church votes to support Robinson after an anguished debate. Instead of rejoicing, everyone just sits there - for 10 minutes. Robinson told me they were silent out of respect for the losing side. It is a powerful moment, worthy of good, religious people.

But I am not one of them. Indeed, for all the hell the Capitol Resource Institute and the Pacific Justice Institute put the California LGBT community through trying to repeal the LGBT history law, the California FAIR Act (SB 48), it's hard not to gloat over their third failure (first in Oct. 2011; then failing to qualify for 2012; now failing for 2014) to gather enough signatures to place an antigay measure of the ballot.

On Monday, July 16, the Stop SB 48 coalition issued a statement saying they only gathered 446,000 valid signatures to qualify their CLASS Act initiative for the 2014 ballot. They needed 504,760 valid signatures. It's also worth noting that they fell 51,404 signatures short of their last attempt.

Gov. Jerry Brown signed the FAIR ACT on Oct. 8, 2011 and it went into effect on Jan. 1, 2012 - though, as AP notes, "most school districts have not implemented" the law. Perhaps that's one reason the Stop SB 48 effort failed - their constituents aren't seeing the law in action and therefore have no complaint.

But there is no strong public complaint about the lack of implementation, either, in this vacuum of statewide LGBT leadership waiting for FAIR ACT sponsor Equality California to finally hire a full-time executive director. It's hard to gloat over Stop SB 48's failure when LGBT apathy seems to be handing them a quiet ironic success.

In the Stop SB 48 press release, Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel to Pacific Justice Institute, notes that they failed because they had an all-volunteer grassroots signature-gathering campaign. That must have been disappointing, considering some of the big-bucks organizations they listed among the 13 "coalition" members, including the Family Research Council - whose head, Tony Perkins, posted some lie-strewn videos. At the end of their press release, Snider says:

This campaign was a struggle to protect the children of our State. While the failure to gather the necessary signatures may be a disappointment, giving up on the most vulnerable members of our society would be unforgivable.

So there it is. Unlike the pro-equality Episcopal Church members who honored the opposition after their vote, it seems the Stop SB 48 folks continues to judge and not "forgive" any Californian who failed to sign on to "protect the children" through their proposed initiative campaign. That doesn't seem very Christian.

Here's the entire Stop SB 48 press release:

SACRAMENTO, CA- While boxes of signed petitions are still being delivered to locations throughout the State, the coalition that promoted the Children Learning Accurate Social Science (CLASS) Act is projecting today that they will fall short of the more than 500,000 signatures needed to qualify the initiative for the 2014 ballot.

After eliminating the signatures that the coalition believed might be challenged for inaccuracies during official counting, the coalition approximates that it currently has 446,000 signatures. Today is the deadline for turning in signatures to the 58 counties.

Kevin Snider, Chief Counsel to Pacific Justice Institute and the author of the wording for the CLASS Act noted, "Placing a measure on the ballot through grassroots efforts alone has not been done in California in recent memory. Although history was against us, our conscience compelled the coalition to fight this battle rather than doing nothing."

The CLASS Act was designed to counter the effects of SB48 that was signed into law in 2011 and began being implemented in January of this year. SB48, described by its proponents as a further crackdown on discrimination and bullying, requires that social science classes beginning at kindergarten add curriculum that is positive toward lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other minority figures. But the law also prohibits curriculum that "reflects adversely" on these same groups.

The CLASS Act initiative was designed to strike a balance in what is taught in social science classes. CLASS provided that no person could be excluded from the history books merely because of membership in a "protected class", but no person would be included in the history books merely because of their sexual preference.

Many of the coalition members backing the CLASS Act were involved in an earlier effort to qualify a referendum to overturn SB48. Like the current drive to qualify the initiative, the coalition relied on volunteers as opposed to paying signature gatherers and fell short of the more than a half million signatures required.

Snider said, "This campaign was a struggle to protect the children of our State. While the failure to gather the necessary signatures may be a disappointment, giving up on the most vulnerable members of our society would be unforgivable."

Snider hinted at future efforts by the coalition aimed at mitigating the negative effects of SB48 but did not give details.

The coalition thanked each person, church and organization for the sacrificial efforts made in gathering signatures and contributing money to the campaign. The coalition and supporters of the CLASS Act included Calvary Chapel Chino Hills, Faith and Public Policy, Capitol Resource Institute, Advocates for Faith and Freedom, Pacific Justice Institute, Western Center for Law and Policy, Traditional Values Coalition, Korean Gospel Broadcast Company, Organization for Justice and Equality, United Families International, Alliance Defense Fund, Family Research Council, and Concerned Women for America.

Please remember that campaigns are costly and though this campaign for the CLASS Act Initiative has ended, we still need your help to finish paying off debt.

We want to be able to move forward debt free as we plan for future action.

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