Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 7 / 15 February 2018

Signatures, money lacking for Prop 8 repeal effort


John Henning
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Despite efforts to utilize volunteers to gather 1 million signatures to put a measure on the November ballot to repeal Proposition 8, one of the grassroots groups pushing the effort has acknowledged it is well under its goals and may have to use paid signature gatherers.

However, the group, Love Honor Cherish, only reported raising a little over $19,000 during a portion of 2009, which is well under what a signature-gathering firm would charge.

In a phone interview last week, John Henning, executive director of Love Honor Cherish, said the signature gathering is going "fine," but added, "we are not meeting our daily targets, and we're trying to work to get to the point where we are meeting our daily targets."

If they can't, he said, then they're going to seek paid signature gatherers to make up the difference.

"That's what we're working on now, because [there's] a definite possibility that we're going to need paid signature gatherers," Henning said.

He would not say how many signatures have been collected.

In an e-mail this week, Henning wrote that the target is 7,000 signatures per day, which would total 1,050,000 over the course of the 150-day signature gathering period. The initiative needs 694,354 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The signatures are due April 12.

Prop 8, passed by California voters in November 2008, amended the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

"We are working to raise money because volunteer signature gathering has not been hitting this target. Any money raised will be used both to support the volunteers and, if possible, to supplement the volunteer effort with paid signature gatherers," Henning wrote in his e-mail.

He also wrote that he couldn't give an estimate of the number of volunteers gathering signatures, noting that "many ... regular gatherers are not in regular communication with us." In addition, many regular signature gatherers are working directly through other groups, such as the Restore Equality 2010 coalition, he explained.

The hope is "to raise as much as $1 million or more to support the volunteer effort and to supplement it with paid signature gatherers," wrote Henning. "If some or all of those funds are raised, they will be spent; if not, we'll continue using volunteers as we have been doing."

But it appears that the backers of repealing Prop 8 in 2010 have a long way to go in terms of fundraising.

According to data recently filed with the secretary of state's office, Love Honor Cherish raised $19,518 in 2009, including about $3,800 in loans. The group's ending cash on hand was $889.

In the phone interview, Henning said those figures, which became available this month, didn't represent the whole year, but only the time in which Love Honor Cherish was obligated to report data. He said they didn't have to start reporting contributions until about September, which was when they submitted their ballot language to the attorney general's office. The secretary of state's office did not verify that reporting timeline by press time.

"We don't disclose things that aren't publicly reported," Henning said, so he was "not at liberty" to say how much Love Honor Cherish has raised altogether, and he wouldn't say how much has been raised so far this year.

"We don't pretend to be the only group that's going to spend money on repealing Prop 8, so what's on that report is certainly not enough to repeal Prop 8, but we're confident money will come from many, many sources to repeal Prop 8," Henning said of the report filed with the secretary of state's office.

Henning said the group isn't having any "formal" fundraising events, instead focusing on "direct appeals" to people.

As recently reported, Restore Equality 2010 reported a total of $15,146.80 in contributions from January 1-December 31, 2009. Jane Wishon, Restore Equality's treasurer, said in an e-mail earlier this month that her estimate for contributions in January was $10,000, though "money is still coming in from some fundraisers around the state." That figure is not included in the finance reports for 2009 that were due February 1.

Wishon did not respond to an e-mail request last week for updated figures.

Several groups, including Equality California and the Courage Campaign, favor moving ahead with repealing Prop 8 in 2012.

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