Issue:  Vol. 48 / No. 3 / 18 January 2018

Prop 8 repeal bid ends


The Reverend Roland Stringfellow, fourth from right, and his husband Jerry Peterson, sat with other marriage equality advocates inside the county clerk's office at San Francisco City Hall on Valentine's Day after being denied marriage licenses. Eight people were later detained, cited, and released during the civil disobedience. (Photo: Jane Philomen Cleland)
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Citing a lack of funds, a bid to repeal Proposition 8 at the ballot box this November has ended.

The move follows last week's 2-1 ruling by a panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that California's same-sex marriage ban, passed by voters in November 2008, is unconstitutional.

Love Honor Cherish, the Los Angeles-based group that had launched the repeal effort in December, announced this week that it wouldn't be able to raise the money or gather the signatures needed to place the initiative on the ballot.

Eric Harrison, the organization's interim executive director, said in a Monday, February 13 email blast that collecting the 807,615 valid signatures that would have been required by mid-April wasn't likely.

"We would need more than $1.5 million in donor commitments to hire a paid signature gathering firm to assist us in this massive effort," Harrison added. "In view of the 9th Circuit victory and the narrowness of the ruling, making [U.S.] Supreme Court review less likely, raising the additional funds needed is now not realistic. And, as we have stated, we had no illusions that the initiative could qualify based solely on our statewide volunteer signature gathering effort."

This is the second time that Love Honor Cherish has failed at undoing Prop 8. In 2010, it tried to rely on volunteer signature gatherers but had to abandon that effort.

The decision to end the initiative process isn't a complete surprise. The board of Equality California, the state's largest LGBT rights organization, decided last fall not to move ahead with a Prop 8 repeal effort in 2012. One week later EQCA's new executive director abruptly quit, which in turn cast a spotlight on the organization's deteriorating finances. EQCA has yet to name a new executive director.

In a Tuesday, February 14 phone interview, Harrison would only say that "six figures" had been pledged for his group's repeal work. He said enough money had come in to pay for operating expenses, but he wouldn't say how much that was.

Harrison also wouldn't say how many signatures had been collected, since, he said, there are "some die-hard volunteers" who are still trying to gather signatures. He didn't provide names of any.

Harrison said that Love Honor Cherish is not folding and that he would remain interim executive director. He said the group would look at "what opportunities there are for us to keep marriage equality in the consciousness of the people's minds."

About two-dozen other marriage equality supporters had a similar goal as they gathered Tuesday, which was Valentine's Day, on the steps of San Francisco City Hall for a rally.

The Reverend Roland Stringfellow, the welcoming congregations coordinator at the Center for Lesbian and Gay Studies in Religion and Ministry at the Pacific School of Religion, was there with his husband, Jerry Peterson.

 In an interview before the rally, Stringfellow said that he was in favor of the Prop 8 repeal effort because there are "couples today who are impacted by this injustice."

However, he appeared to understand why the effort would be dropped, saying, "You have to choose your battles."

After the rally, Stringfellow and Peterson joined several other people who went inside to apply for marriage licenses, knowing they would be denied.

As reported by Bay City News, eight people were eventually detained. San Francisco Sheriff's Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey said that they were cited for failing to disperse but were released within minutes. Fahey didn't know the names of the detainees.

Stringfellow and Peterson attended a reception at Oakland City Hall Tuesday evening and said they were released soon after being cited.

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