Friday, September 4, 2009

Moving 3% of Californians to full marriage equality.

On Saturday 29 August, approximately 80 delegates from various LGBT organizations throughout California gathered in San Francisco. The purpose of this meeting was to impanel an interim governing body to oversee the signature gathering drive to place an initiative on the November 2010 California ballot. They accomplished their goal and the next step will be to submit the initiative language to the California Secretary of State.

Once the language for the ballot initiative is submitted to the Secretary of State, there is a period of 60 days before signature gathering may begin. This means that about Thanksgiving, an all-volunteer signature gathering campaign will begin throughout California. We will have 150 days to gather the required 694,000 signatures from California State residents. By March of 2010, the campaign will begin to move 3% of California voters toward full marriage equality in our State.

That is the overall game plan. Before we get to the campaign portion of the plan, we need to collect the signatures and here we run into our first difficulty. Some LGBT organizations do not wish to proceed in 2010. They believe that it is better to wait until 2012 and some even believe that 2014 is better. Without going into a blow-by-blow expose on the various arguments for 2010, 2012 or 2014, all of which have been debated on multiple occasions by all of the parties. An important and practical question does need to be addressed.

How do various LGBT organizations and individuals who have sincere, but differing opinions work together to restore full marriage equality in California? I believe that the answer is already contained in the question. Essentially, there is no fundamental philosophical difference of opinion on the part of any LGBT organization in this state. We all believe that Prop 8 is a discriminatory and unjust law. We all believe that it should be repealed and that full marriage equality should be the law in California.

The differences therefore, are not core differences; but rather, logistical differences. It is not a question of “what needs to be done” but of “when is the best time to do it.” What needs to be done is to change the minds and hearts of at least 3% of the California electorate and repeal Prop 8. As to the question of “when” the short answer is that, work began on 5 November 2008, the day after the infamous passage of Prop 8.

The work of collecting signatures for an initiative to restore full marriage equality is in fact the work of moving minds and hearts. The fact that the signature gathering will be all-volunteer is extremely important, the last time that an all volunteer signature gathering effort was conducted in California was in the early 1980’s. In other ballot initiatives, professional signature gathers charge between one to three dollars per signature for a ballot initiative. The difference with an all-volunteer signature gathering drive is that the people collecting the signatures are doing far more than merely collecting signatures.

They are passionate about the issue and will engage prospective signers in meaningful and thoughtful conversations. People are rated between 1 and 5, with “1” being a marriage equality activist and “5” being a marriage equality opponent. The idea in the mind of the signature gathers is to move people closer to being a “1.” It is critical here to understand that regardless of the date of an initiative to repeal Prop 8, the work done during the signature gathering phase of the drive to repeal Prop 8 in 2010 is work that needs to be accomplished if justice is to prevail, regardless of the date.

Therefore, even if you passionately believe that 2012 or 2014 is the optimal time to proceed to repeal Prop 8 and restore full marriage equality in California, I would ask you to support your brothers and sisters who will be working to move minds and hearts on this issue in the next several months. You may not become directly involved in working to collect signatures for a 2010 initiative because you believe it better to wait, but do sign the initiative and offer moral support to those working to move minds and hearts on this issue.

If you are working to restore equality in 2010, remember that those who support 2012 or 2014 as the more expedient date are not our opponents. They merely have logistical differences of opinions with us regarding the best time to proceed. What unites us in this battle is a thirst for a restoration of justice and equality in California. What unites us is far greater than any logistical difference. This is a time to work together to change minds and hearts. This is the great work, which began the day after the election in 2008, is continuing now and will continue until justice is reestablished.

An interesting video clip from Rachel Maddow on the impact of marriage equality in the State of Mass.

1 comment:

K said...


I just visited one of my more religious protestant friends last night, and she said that she abstained from voting on Prop 8 because she thought if she voted NO then churches would be forced to marry gays and lesbians. She has come around on the same-sex marriage issue quite a bit since she was younger, but thinks that churches should have the prerogative to not marry whomever they choose.

So, I assured her that no church would be forced to change their marriage practices, and she was relieved but also unhappy that she had been lied to. I followed up with several examples of how various religious faiths don't have to marry people of differing faiths, nor do they have to marry people who've previously been divorced and The Mormons got away with not allowing African Americans to serve in the priesthood for over a decade after civil rights legislation.

Anyway, that seems to be the main reason most moderate people voted in favor of Prop 8, so whatever we do we need to publicly reassure the church going faithful that they will *not* have to change their ways if they don't *want* to. There is no coercive movement afoot to force them to accept homosexuality as not being sinful if they don't *want* to.

We also need an equivalent of "Fight the Smears" wire like the Obama campaign had, so that our rank and file can distribute the information far and wide whenever the Marriage Segregationists start a new scary meme.