Yes, there is divisiveness among the ranks of California’s gay activists. It’s been going on for months. Actually, years. Everyone wants to repeal Prop 8. When to do it — 2010 or 2012 — is the big issue. And as self-appointed leaders make power grabs, one thing remains: Gay Californians cannot marry at home. But here’s why we’re particularly thrilled about a 2010 repeal:
Because it’s being led by the activists who weren’t deeply involved in 2008’s bungled No On 8 campaign.
Neither Geoff Kors’ Equality California (the most fingered as responsible for the slipshod 2008 effort) nor Rick Jacob’s Courage Campaign will be playing a major role, if any, in the 2010 repeal. That’s because, after both groups pulled out, it’s Love Honor Cherish, led by public pointman John Henning (pictured), pushing things ahead.
They’ve got the ballot language approved. Now they just need the signatures — some 1 million (and 694,354 from registered voters). And they’ve got until April 12 to do it. That’s actually the “easy” part; the “hard” part is convincing Californians to choose a different option at the polls two years after voters delivered a defeat to gay marriage. And that’s where the money and research come in.
Kors and Jacobs are not stupid men. They’re seasoned activists with the scars to show it. But state after state, we’re seeing the same strategy deployed to secure marriage rights at the polls, and it continues to fail. Maybe the fresher faces at Love Honor Cherish are just what’s needed?
There are plenty of reasons to wait: build money, build support, don’t piss off voters by sounding needy. Because it could backfire, reports Tamara Audi:
But returning to the ballot repeatedly can be risky, said John Matsusaka, president of the Initiative and Referendum Institute at the University of Southern California.
“We’ve seen this happen with other issues, where they put them in sequential elections, and they just keep trying and getting rejected,” Mr. Matsusaka said, citing a California initiative requiring minors to notify a parent before an abortion that has failed three times in four years. “Once the voters make up their minds on an issue, they feel irked if people prod them again.”
Mr. Matsusaka said there are exceptions — like an Ohio initiative to legalize gambling that finally passed last month after four previous gambling initiatives failed.
What will be most enthralling, however, is if LHC somehow pulls off a 2010 victory, and EQCA and CC are forced to retreat to the shadows, unable to claim a victory for themselves (and their multi-million dollar budgets), and being shut out of even having an agenda in 2012. (Well, maybe there will be another ballot fight in 2012 to repeal the repeal.) But activism is nothing without a little drama.
Those two groups seem to have everything going for them: Money, vast networks of supporters, research and pollsters, and experienced activists on their payroll. But even with all of that, one thing they were unable to do is change the public’s consciousness. We’re not saying LHC is definitely up to the challenge — we’re just thrilled they’re trying.