This morning Executive Director Geoff Kors, on behalf of Equality California Equality California (EQCA), announced his organizationâ€™s support for a ballot measure to repeal Prop 8 in 2012 during a conference for bloggers and media.
Mr. Kors said that during the last 100 days EQCA had done a great deal of research in several areas. Among their findings were the results of a reported 500,000 voter contacts wherein some 20-25% of voters who had voted Yes on Prop 8 indicated â€œsome movementâ€ on that vote. In answer to a question about how solid is that movement, listeners were told that this is an on-going process and the changes would be monitored and tested.
Also, EQCA conducted an analysis of the major donors to No on 8 and polled a number of them. The general response from the donors who were contacted was that they would give money again â€” if the effort had a genuine chance at winning. The implication, to me anyway, was that the donors would, under the right circumstances, give to a campaign in either 2010 or 2012.
Several questions dealt with an added dimension to the discussion: What effect will the constitutional challenge to Prop 8 currently being heard in federal court have on either 2010 or 2012 and likely to be decided at the district court level next spring? The answer was that a decision to declare Prop 8 unconstitutional would very likely hurt fundraising for a 2010 ballot initiative and early fundraising for 2012.
The exception to that was that major donors, according to EQCA, did express some interest in funding the education campaign. That is, the campaign to educate voters on the reality of what marriage equality actually means â€” and doesnâ€™t mean â€” and how marriage inequality affects the every day lives of real people and families.
EQCA said they heard from a number of organizations in the LGBT community and elsewhere. The near-universal response was that many of the organizations are, in the current economy, facing existential questions. They are severely threatened by the economy and their resources are directed at keeping doors open. There arenâ€™t sufficient resources to devote to an initiative in 2010.
Another element of the 100-day EQCA research is the acknowledgement of the need to work with People of Color Communities and Faith Communities. Common to all this is the realization understanding that this is a longer-term process which is not likely to produce the necessary results in the 14 months before the November 2010 election.
For the record, Mr. Kors stated repeatedly that EQCA would not get in the way of a 2010 repeal and would, of course, work towards a successful effort in 2010 â€” if one qualified. He was clearly doubtful that could happen with sufficient time and resources to mount a campaign for 2010.
OK, now, my 2 cents.
There has been a huge outcry for leadership on the notion of repealing Prop 8. Sturm und drang (a literary term meaning thunder and lightning with little to no substance) has so far been the order of the day. This is a highly personal issue. Itâ€™s about about as personal as an issue can get, right up there with only a very few others. Up to now, Iâ€™ve been a very vocal and frequent critic of EQCA and how they
handled bungled No on 8. Well, credit where due, they struck the right note with this one and for the right reasons.
Everywhere else, the arguments for returning to the ballot in 2010 have been more emotional than rational. I agree that time for marriage equality is long overdue and that every day it is delayed is completely wrong on every level.
There are two trends that on a practical level bode well for waiting until 2012. Voters under 30 support equality by a margin of nearly 2 to 1. For older voters, the reverse is true. Thatâ€™s one. The other is crass and craven, but waiting until 2012 will mean more younger voters and fewer older ones. Oh, and thatâ€™s going to happen no matter what or who is on any ballot.
There was a question along the lines of, Itâ€™s been said by some that if a repeal fails in 2010 would actually be a win because it would motivate people for 2012. Mr. Kors answered that he was unaware of an initiative failing three times (I think he was referring to Prop 22, Prop 8 and a failed repeal in 2010) and returning to win on the fourth. That also was a consideration for waiting until 2012 and doing it right.
Already Iâ€™ve heard that there will be a conflict between EQCA and the Courage Campaign because of a perception, real or imagined, between the two. I have a different take.
EQCA has now clearly stated that they prefer 2012. The most recent email messages Iâ€™ve received from Courage have asked for and received money to fund research to determine the feasibility and message of a 2010 initiative.
The Courage Campaign community already spoke out in favor of 2010, quite strongly. In May, 83% of our members told us to work with our partners to place a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2010 — and to help build the movement to support it.
But the only way a 2010 campaign can be launched is if the marriage equality movement raises $200,000. That’s right. $200,000. That’s how much money it will take to determine — through research, polling and focus groups — the initiative language and messages that will move voters to support marriage equality. [emphasis in the original]
Reading this, I see it says â€œthe Courage Campaign communityâ€ has spoken overwhelmingly in favor of 2010. I do not see where the organization itself has made any such official determination. I see wiggle room. There may not be a conflict. Or maybe Iâ€™m completely wrong. Still, I hope Courage has not painted themselves into the 2010 corner. Maybe they can figure a way out if they need to.
Remember the line by Margo Channing, played by Bette Davis, in â€œAll About Eve?â€ You know it already, â€œFasten your seatbelts, itâ€™s going to be a bumpy night.â€ Indeed.