Ballot fight likely in 2010 to repeal Prop 8
Recent moves by both Equality California and the progressive Courage Campaign point to the increasing likelihood that some sort of ballot measure to repeal Proposition 8 will go before voters in 2010 if the state Supreme Court upholds the measure.
Following the Courage Campaign’s "Camp Courage" in Oakland earlier this month, organizers of the grassroots training event all but said they were ready to go forward next year. Then last week, EQCA unveiled its new campaign, "Win Marriage Back: Make It Real." Officials said that 25 newly hired field organizers would soon begin working with same-sex marriage supporters up and down the state in advance of any official electoral campaign. EQCA also began airing television ads statewide this week featuring same-sex couples talking with their families about marriage equality.
"We know the California Supreme Court ruling on Prop 8 will happen between now and June 2," said EQCA Executive Director Geoff Kors during a conference call with reporters last week. "No matter what the court decides, our goal is not just legal [recognition] but acceptance and understanding."
Kors said EQCA’s work would be done in collaboration with numerous organizations, including the Courage Campaign and Marriage Equality USA, which have banded together to conduct a statewide poll to determine how Californians view same-sex couples and marriage equality. Results of that survey are expected next month.
But Kors and other EQCA officials stopped short of declaring a campaign had already been decided.
"It’s been a tremendous week and month around the country," said EQCA marriage director Marc Solomon, referring to same-sex marriage becoming legal in Maine, Iowa, and Vermont. "It’s clear the community doesn’t want to wait. However, it’s not our decision. The community at large needs to make the decision. We’re simply stating what our inclination is."
For his part, Courage Campaign Chair Rick Jacobs, in a May 7 memo to the media, said his group "is ready to go back to the ballot in 2010, assuming the Supreme Court upholds Prop 8."
"But before we can make the ultimate decision to support an actual ballot measure, the Courage Campaign will survey our members and consult with our allies in the polling group formed by several organizations a few weeks ago," Jacobs said.
The Courage Campaign has more than 700,000 grassroots and netroots members. The group, started in 2004, is not exclusively an LGBT organization, although Jacobs and several key staffers are gay. The group is modeled more like Moveon.org, Jacobs said, and focuses on a host of progressive causes and issues, including same-sex marriage.
Kors, Solomon, and Jacobs pointed to the need to organize throughout the state, building a network of grassroots activists in advance of any ballot fight.
EQCA’s TV ads, Solomon pointed out, "make people real to all Californians."
"The TV ads use real couples," he said, explaining the need to "win marriage back."
Kors would not disclose the cost of the ad buy or how many times the commercials would air.
"We have raised significant resources and we have to raise more," Kors said. "We have a board of directors with over 50 people and the decision was made by the board" to go forward with the new Win Marriage Back campaign.
"Now that we have a plan, we move forward. To make it possible we are going to need to raise resources," added Solomon.
EQCA held a similar conference call last week with its major donors. Kors said the message to them would be similar.
Those with the Yes on 8 campaign said that they expect to be challenged at the ballot box should the court uphold Prop 8. The New York Times reported last week that Frank Schubert, Yes on 8 campaign manager, said that recent developments in other states around marriage equality have also generated enthusiasm for those opposed to same-sex marriage.
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