No Prop 8 repeal in 2010
by Seth Hemmelgarn
California voters will not be deciding whether to repeal Proposition 8 this year.
In an announcement that was widely expected, groups that had been working to repeal Prop 8 this November said this week that they failed to gather the necessary signatures to qualify the measure for the ballot.
In separate statements issued Monday, April 12, both Love Honor Cherish and Restore Equality 2010 said they had not gathered the 694,354 signatures required to put the measure on the ballot. Monday was the deadline for turning in signatures.
"This is a heartbreaking moment," John Henning, executive director of the Los Angeles-based Love Honor Cherish, said in the statement. "Despite the dogged efforts of hundreds of volunteers across California, we did not get the signatures we needed within the 150-day window set by the state."
Sean Bohac, the state advisory panel chair for Restore Equality 2010, said in his statement, "Our campaigners carried the torch of Harvey Milk, who showed that change only happens when we get out of the bars and into the streets."
Restore Equality officials did not say how many signatures they had managed to gather.
Asked in an e-mail about the number, Ian Hart, a regional representative for Restore Equality, responded, "Not enough. ... When we got out on the street, there was terrific support – particularly in left-leaning straight communities. We just needed more volunteers in more communities, which is why if California wants to get this on the ballot in 2012, we will need the organizations and individuals who pledged to support a 2012 effort to come out and fight for marriage equality."
Henning did not respond to requests for comment by deadline. Love Honor Cherish was part of the Restore Equality 2010 coalition.
Several statewide organizations, including Equality California and the progressive Courage Campaign, had previously announced they would move forward with a repeal effort in 2012 and had not signed on to the 2010 effort.
Prop 8, which California voters passed in November 2008, amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage.
In a phone interview Thursday, April 8, Bohac had said he was "cautiously optimistic" that his group would succeed in gathering enough signatures.
"We've been inspired by the people who have come out of the woodwork to help us work on the campaign," Bohac said, adding, "I know that we've collected signatures from every county in the state. We've run a statewide campaign that we're pretty proud of."
Added Jane Wishon, Restore Equality's treasurer, "We were almost entirely a volunteer effort, and we will continue to be as we move forward." She expressed, as others did, an intent to help push for repeal in 2012.
"The cause doesn't stop now," Wishon said. "Clearly, we still have this blemish on our state constitution."
She wasn't sure what Restore Equality 2010 would be called now.
"We're still dedicated to marriage equality, so we want to reflect that in the name. I don't know that we have a final decision yet," Wishon said.
Love Honor Cherish also said it would work to support repeal in 2012.
"We had hundreds of thousands of conversations with California voters about the right to marry and we know that we have moved hearts and minds," Love Honor Cherish board member Lester Aponte said in the group's statement. "In the process, we have set the foundation for a future repeal effort and brought hope to thousands whose hearts were broken by the passage of Prop 8."
The 2010 repeal effort was hampered by a lack of funds, as the groups appeared to have not raised much money.
Wishon said that Restore Equality had raised approximately $20,000, plus donations of goods and services.
Wishon said they "used every dollar."
According to data filed with the secretary of state's office in February, Love Honor Cherish raised $19,518 in 2009, including about $3,800 in loans. The group's ending cash on hand was $889.
In contrast, the Yes on 8 and No on 8 campaigns raised a combined $80 million two years ago.
In a February phone interview, Henning said his group's figures 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. A state campaign finance official did not verify that timeline by press time.
Henning had previously said that Love Honor Cherish wasn't meeting its daily signature targets and there was a "definite possibility that we're going to need paid signature gatherers."
However, the money it had reported raising by that time was well under what a signature-gathering firm would charge.
Both groups that had pushed for repeal in 2010 pointed to recent polling data indicating support for legalizing same-sex marriage in California.
In a Los Angeles Times/University of Southern California poll, registered voters said by a 52 percent to 40 percent margin that same-sex couples should be allowed to legally marry in the state.
The survey included 1,515 registered voters, and questioning took place March 23-30. The margin of error for the survey was plus or minus 2.6 percentage points for the overall sample and slightly larger for smaller breakdowns.
A Public Policy Institute of California statewide poll released in late March found that 50 percent of the state's residents supported marriage equality, with 45 percent against it.
The results marked the first time a PPIC poll has found more than 45 percent support for same-sex marriage since it began asking about marriage equality in 2000.
The PPIC survey of 2,002 Californians was conducted between March 9-16, two months after the start of the federal Prop 8 trial in San Francisco, aimed at overturning the measure, and just days after the United States Supreme Court refused to stop same-sex marriage from becoming legal in Washington, D.C. It had a sampling error of plus or minus 2 percent.