Coalition developing structure for 2010 Prop 8 repeal effort
by Seth Hemmelgarn
Marriage equality advocates from across the state hoping to repeal Proposition 8 in 2010 met last weekend in San Francisco to adopt a structure for a statewide signature gathering campaign and elect an interim leadership team to develop a political action committee.
Opponents of Prop 8, which California's voters passed in November to constitutionally ban same-sex marriage in the state, are split over whether to try to repeal the measure in 2010, or wait until 2012, when many feel chances of ending the ban would be better.
After Equality California, the state's largest LGBT rights group, recommended returning to the ballot in 2012, several grassroots groups that favor repealing Prop 8 in 2010 said they would proceed with that effort.
Sara Beth Brooks, spokeswoman for the California Coalition for Marriage Equality, which is dedicated to restoring marriage equality in the state "as quickly as possible," read from a statement after the meeting Saturday, August 29.
"We all agree that the work to restore marriage equality must take place every single day, not just during a campaign," she said. "We know from polling data and successful trainings that personal conversations are a primary way we can win back our equality."
The Courage Campaign, a statewide progressive group that supports working for repeal in 2010, and Equality California, an LGBT lobbying group that favors 2012, have both been working to reach out to voters across the state by conducting voter outreach and opening field offices.
After the meeting, Brooks said, "Voter persuasion is fruitless if there is not a vote."
More than 80 people attended the meeting, held at San Francisco State University.
The signature gathering structure – named the Davis Plan after the hometown of Linda Waite, one of the activists who presented it – divides the state into 10 regions. Those regions include one for the San Francisco and Monterey bay areas, and separate designations for Los Angeles, Orange, and San Diego counties, where support for Prop 8 was heavy.
Meeting participants had declined to tell the Bay Area Reporter during a news conference Saturday what the regions were, but Eric Ross, who writes about LGBT issues for a San Francisco Examiner blog, discussed the regions in an item posted Sunday, August 30.
Ross also wrote that each region would have one to six representatives.
Supporters of trying to repeal Prop 8 in 2010 are running out of time to submit ballot language. September 25 is the suggested deadline for proponents to submit their ballot measure to the sate attorney general and request title and summary.
In an e-mail to the B.A.R., Brooks said that lawyers are vetting the ballot language. The Courage Campaign has raised money for researching ballot language options.
Brooks said Saturday that signature gathering wouldn't start before November, and that each region will be developing a plan of action.
Besides working on the signature gathering effort, the activists also elected an 11-member interim administrative group, which will be the central fundraising body for the signature gathering effort.
John Henning, executive director of the organization Love Honor Cherish, and Chaz Lowe, whose group Yes on Equality proposed a ballot measure earlier this year to repeal Prop 8, were among the people selected for the administrative group. Others named to the leadership team include Zakiya Khabir, Jordan Krueger, Lester Aponte, Lisa Kove, Kelechi Anyanwu, and Misha Houser.
More structure suggested
In an opinion piece published Saturday in the Sacramento Bee, Susan Belinda Christian and Charles Sheehan, co-chairs of San Francisco's Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club, wrote that there should be a governing structure that provides accountability to both the 2010 and 2012 camps.
In July, the club came out in favor of working to repeal Prop 8 in 2012.
Asked in an e-mail about the opinion piece, Brooks responded that, "Creating a supervising structure for the huge resurgence of LGBT grassroots activism in California is a necessary and achievable goal. The successful meeting this weekend is a testament to what we can do when we work together – and we look forward to working on such a structure. ..."
In an e-mail, Geoff Kors, Equality California's executive director, wrote, "EQCA is committed to winning marriage back in 2012, and to that end we have been working hard in communities across the state to change hearts and minds. ... We don't believe diverting energy and money to build a complicated two-tier campaign structure from the work that must be done on the ground is necessary to prevail."
The next California Coalition for Marriage Equality meeting in the Bay Area will be September 19. The meeting will include the election of three regional representatives to coordinate signature gathering efforts and discussion of how to raise money. The meeting's location hadn't been determined by press time.
For more information on the meeting, visit the "Signature gathering to repeal Prop 8 in 2010" Facebook event page. Go to http://www.repealprop8.org for more information about repealing Prop 8 in 2010.