California Repeal of Proposition 8 (2012)
Marriage and Family
|Not on ballot|
Individuals and key organizations in California's LGBT community have differing opinions about both the timing of a ballot initiative to repeal the provisions of Proposition 8, and about the exact language or approach to use in the text of a repeal-8 amendment.
Uncertainty about best date
Those who want to repeal Proposition 8 through a ballot initiative are engaged in a months-long dialogue about whether this should be done in 2010 or 2012. Among those who advocate the 2010 ballot, there is discussion about whether it should go on the June or the November 2010 statewide ballot.
Geoff Kors of Equality California has said he thinks it is too early to determine whether a ballot initiative would be the wisest course for those who support the cause of legal gay marriage in the state. He advocates further research, as well as waiting to see the outcome of the lawsuits filed to invalidate Proposition 8.
In early July, a campaign that had been collecting signatures to qualify a repeal measure for the June 2010 ballot said it had decided that it would be a better strategy to wait and have a repeal measure on the November 2010 ballot. Brendan Ross, a spokesman for "Yes! on Equality" told a reporter that they are "...no longer gathering signatures for the first initiative, but will still use those pages of signatures as contacts for when it's time to continue gathering signatures."
On July 25, a straw poll was conducted at a gathering of leaders of the same-sex movement in San Bernardino.
The last day to file language to qualify for the 2010 ballot is September 25.
In favor of waiting
Reasons that have been put forward to support the idea of waiting until 2012 include:
- Uncertainty about whether the $40 million or so that consultants think will be needed can be raised in 2010, an off-year politically.
- A similar doubt about whether it might be more difficult to recruit campaign volunteers in an off-year.
- The Alice B. Toklas Democratic Club of San Francisco is concerned that a 2010 measure "would require a rush that could cause our community to take shortcuts, miss important messages and fail to make critical connections. If we set the vote for 2010, we essentially need to net 1,000 voters per day, a theoretically achievable but extraordinarily ambitious goal."
- David Bohnett, who gave over $1 million to the 2008 campaign to defeat Prop 8, said that he and other "major No on 8 donors" are not clear that 2010 is the right year and that "we will step up to the plate — with resources and talent — when the time is right."
- Marc Solomon of Equality California told the New York Times that he asked "nearly two dozen California political consultants and pollsters" in June and July 2009 what they thought about 2010 versus 2012 and that these people were almost unanimous in believing that it would be best to wait beyond 2010.
- The polls haven't moved since Prop 8 won.
- Hans Johnson, board member of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, said "A slapdash effort based on wishful thinking, rosy scenarios, and passion, is not enough to win on."
Go for 2010
- John M. Cleary, president of the Stonewall Democratic Club, said that younger activists in his group want to move on this in 2010. Cleary said, "I find the language of some of the organizations really self-defeating. And I think we have a moral obligation to overturn this."
- "Love, Honor, Cherish" advocates a 2010 effort and has published a blueprint for what that would look like.
Possible ballot language
- Some LGBT groups believe it is important to provide a religious exemption in any amendment to repeal Proposition 8.
- Explicitly addressing questions about school curriculum is also thought by some to be advisable in light of a widespread belief that television ads run in the 2008 campaign by the "Yes on 8" campaign that stated that children would have to be taught about same-sex marriage in school were effective in swinging votes toward the "Yes on 8" side.
A poll commissioned from David Binder of David Binder Research and Amy Simon of Goodwin Simon Victoria Research showed that 64% of those surveyed agreed that issues about gays and lesbians should be discussed at home, not in public schools, compared to 30 percent who disagreed with that statement. The poll also indicated that when language is included in a proposed initiative that says that the measure is "not intended to, and shall not be interpreted to, modify or change the curriculum in any school", the number of those who say they would vote in favor of an amendment to repeal Prop 8 goes up a few points than if that language is not part of the proposed amendment.
In California, the first step to putting an initiative on the ballot is filing proposed language with the California Secretary of State. As of early July 2009, these initiatives related to the repeal of Proposition 8 are active possibilities:
- 09-0003: Substitutes Domestic Partnership for Marriage in California Law. Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute. This was filed by Kaelan Housewright and Ali Shams. According to the brief official summary, it would "replace the term "marriage" with the term "domestic partnership" throughout California law, but preserves the rights provided in marriage. Applies equally to all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. Repeals the provision in California's Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
- 09-0002, Amdt. #1S: Reinstates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. This was filed by Charles Lowe of "Yes! on Equality." A brief official summary describes it as, "Repeals the current provision in California's Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to modify or change the curriculum in any school. Clarifies that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to mandate or require clergy of any church to perform a service or duty inconsistent with his or her faith."
- 09-0011: Reinstates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. Initiative Constitutional Amendment. Like 09-0002, this was filed by Charles Lowe of "Yes! on Equality." A brief official summary describes it as, "Repeals the current provision in California’s Constitution that states only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Provides that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to modify or change the curriculum in any school. Clarifies that the initiative is not intended, and shall not be interpreted, to mandate or require clergy of any church or religious institution to perform a service or duty inconsistent with his or her faith."
Different campaign than 2008
As the marriage equality community debates when it should push to have an initiative on the ballot, the community of those who want to repeal Prop 8 are also discussing ways they think a campaign should be different from the campaign run in 2008 to try to defeat Prop 8.
Ideas that have been suggested as to how a new campaign should differ include:
- More outreach to African Americans and Latinos.
- Put most emphasis on sharing personal stories.
- Current California initiatives
- Won't Back Down
- Love, Honor, Cherish (advocate of 2010)
- Unite the Fight
- Prepare to Prevail (wants to wait until 2012)
- Gay and Lesbian Times, "Longtime activist calls for more ‘democratic’ marriage-equality movement", July 2, 2009
- Bay Area Reporter, "Groups begin talk of ballot wording", June 11, 2009
- Southern Voice, "Another ballot measure in California?", March 6, 2009
- On Top Magazine, "Calif. Campaign to Restore Gay Marriage Alters Course", July 2009
- San Francisco Chronicle, "New straw poll of gay marriage leaders: Overturn Prop 8 in 2010", July 26, 2009
- San Francisco Chronicle, "Same-sex marriage backers weigh ballot date", July 26, 2009
- New York Times, "Backers of Gay Marriage Rethink California Push", July 26, 2009
- Statement of Love, Honor, Cherish on how to execute a 2010 repeal effort
- Full text of Proposed Initiative 09-0003
- Full text of Proposition Initiative 09-0002, Amendment #1S
- Full text of Proposed Initiative 09-0011
- 'ABC-TV, "Same-sex marriage advocates start petition drive"