Alex Blaze

Equality California: Let the 38-month campaign begin

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 12, 2009 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: California, Courage Campaign, Equality California, gay marriage, Geoff Kors, LGBT, Mark Solomon, Prop. 8, same-sex marriage

I just got off a conference call with Equality California's Geoff Kors and Mark Solomon. They've decided to go ahead and push for a ballot initative to overturn Prop 8 in 2012, not in 2010, for the following reasons:

  • They're finding that people's opinions are hard to change (they estimate that around 20-25% of people who say they voted yes on Prop 8 showed "some movement" after face-to-face conversations with volunteers... it's slow work)
  • Their math shows they can have a majority supporting such a measure by 2012
  • It's more effective to do this work outside of the context of an election - people are more open to hearing the other side if it's not about an election
  • Their allies in communities of color and faith have said they want to work to make a push in 2012, not 2010
  • 2012 has better demographics - more young people will be of voting age, and more liberal people will turn out because of the presidential election
  • Their top 100 donors want to make sure their investment is well-placed and prefer a three-year education campaign instead of a one-year election campaign

While I think that this decision is the right one to make, considering how hard it is to push those numbers and the fact that having an election on this every year wastes money and makes the inevitable result in favor of same-sex marriage happen even later, I'm going to go out on a pretty strong limb here and say that it was probably the donors' who pulled the trigger here. You can't have a party if no one will foot the bill.

This decision puts them at odds with the Courage Campaign, the second-largest group in California that worked on Prop 8, which wants to try to put it on the ballot in 2010. It hurts, because while the Courage Campaign put out ads and definitely worked on this, a good deal of those $40-some-odd million came from Equality California's extensive donors list.

Solomon mentioned that Equality California would support a ballot initiative if Courage Campaign and other groups put it there in 2010, but getting those signatures is actually rather expensive, especially in the short amount of time that they'll have. Courage Campaign says they've raised $100K, but that's no where near as much as they'll need to win (although the right is also bleeding cash too). I wonder if they can do it without California's big gay donors.

I suppose that we'll see what happens when the Attorney General does or doesn't certify the ballot question next April, unless other big groups pull out because of Equality California.

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I'm wondering how they'll deal with staff. Wasn't it a con that in 2012 with the presidential election, finding the volunteers/staff will become more difficult? What about key Democratic figures? This election, Prop 8 opponents had trouble finding key Democratic speakers because they were all campaigning for Obama. The DNC and other Democratic entities also didn't want to contribute financially because they were putting their money on the president.

Kors said on the phone that they've added 18 field organizers, opened 9 offices, enlisted 16K volunteers, and added 76K pledged donors. Of course, there's no way to verify those numbers....

Anyway, it sounds like they're getting on it. And I suppose a 2012 election would not take as much attention as the 2008 one, since it's not like it's a battle for America's last chance again....

My partner and I married in San Francisco last September. I wish gays could still do this, but I think that it is worth waiting until 2012 for the vote, but beginning the fight for change NOW with thought-out plans to reach all the necessary groups. We need a big win with a super-majority that will scare off the opposition to even think that they could put it back on the ballot in 2 or 4 years. If the repeal movement is not done properly, with plans to build a super-majority, and not just "squeek-by" until the next election, with the initiative system in California, this issue will never be finally resolved in our favor, and will become a permanent drain on human-power and donation, with one side or the other placing our rights up for a vote every two years. It is terrible that the California Court allows a vote on civil rights to begin with. We need an attorney general in California who will not certify such questions as a first line of defense. This was the recent strategy in the District of Columbia, where the proposal for an initiative to revoke DC's law recognizing marriages from other jurisdictions was not certified due to the local Human Rights law. A court upheld this decision. The ballot box can not be a first and only line of defense on LGBTQ civil rights.

It may not be EQCA's decision anymore.

"It's more effective to do this work outside of the context of an election - people are more open to hearing the other side if it's not about an election" - so they want it on the ballot for a Presidential election?