Is There a Chance in Hell Love Honor Cherish Can Pull Off a 2010 Prop 8 Repeal?


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.

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  • bystander

    I really don’t think Queerty should be giving advice on how to appeal to a mass audience, as it is catered to appeal exclusively to a niche audience itself. A negative campaign in California will result in a worse result than in 2010, it will turn off moderates and in general turn off the very people we need.

    Bashing anti-gay marriage people in California may be emotionally appealing to some, but it is a horrible idea, if for no other reason than a majority of Californians are included in that category.

    Going negitive will only freeze people where they as they will get defensive. Doing so because you think the previous strategy made gay people look “needy” is not reason enough to change tactics.

    But we shall see.

  • RM

    I partially disagree:

    A very negative campaign is likely to play out in our favor.

    If the conservatives feel very pessimistic about their options in the gubernatorial election (likely if Meg Whitman or Tom Campbell wins the GOP nomination), they are more likely to stay home on election day.

    I think we should pay a lot more attention to what’s going on with the GOP primary.

  • bystander

    That is certainly one take on it, however if you are going to look at larger trends, how about the overall trend of enthusiasm on the right and the left nationwide. From the polls I’ve been looking at Meg Whitman will be competitive in California in 2010, so i very much doubt anyone on the right will be staying home out of pessimism. Indeed, the right wing of the country is incredibly fired up right now, for some legitimate, and some exaggerated reasons. While on the left, it is my observation, people are far less amped up.

    In any case, there is a very clear trend in first term, midterm elections: the Party holding the whitehouse looses a share of the vote because the other side is energized, and supporters are either disappointed or lulled into a sense of security.

    The GOP will have plenty of time to heal from primary wounds, parties always do that, cough obama-clinton, cough. A negitive campaign will only hurt a prop 8 repeal. And even with the best campaign, judging based on turnout trends in midterms a repeal will loose by a greater margin than prop 8 passed with.

  • Bluprntguy

    This article misrepresents the facts. Political consultants have said there is a slight political advantage to waiting to repeal prop 8 in that more older voters (that don’t support repeal) will have died. Beyond that, we lose support due to fading activism, a longer time period where prop 8 becomes the norm, and a presidential campaign where both candidates will be stating marriage is between a man and a woman. If we can’t repeal prop 8 in 2010, it won’t happen in 2012. EQCA has even said that they want repeal “when we can win.”. THEY HAVE NOT COMMITTED TO 2012. Stop pinning hopes on 2012, when the truth is it’s 2014 AT THE EARLIEST, if we miss the opportunity of 2010.

  • Flex

    We may resume our practice of marriage equality on 1-11-2010. The Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial begins. Why would the gay leaders, who want to ask permission from a bunch of bigots to get married, ask the voters to repeal proposition 8 when the court has already done it.

    Conversely, I’m not interested in spending one dime to have the same rights that everyone else has, or has never had to fight for their rights at the ballot box.

  • Jimmy P. Wood

    problem is lovehonorcherish is not large enough to do it on its own and henning is toxic, pure poison to anyone who tries to work with him.

    it is not 2008 but it is the same top down white lawyer bully tactics.

    there were many for 2010 now henning is all that is left. dig into how many people were DRIVEN away instead of just choosing 2012.

    mr jacobs says there is no respected leadership and that is why courage campaign moved along. think about that. courage campaign had nothing to do with 2008 they showed the way when all was going wrong and henning tried to dominate them with his little group.

    the article says 20 people at a meeting LOS ANGELES where they are based

    his power grab has become a sad joke which is on all of us who supported 2010 and are left with being his slave or moving to 2012 where they may make mistakes but they treat people like people

    so 2012 it is and that is a shame

    please dont let him back next time so we can all work on the cause instead of what the lawyer from la la land tells us we have to do

  • Mike in Asheville, nee "in Brooklyn"

    @No. 5 Flex

    You are so RIGHT; unfortunately, you are also WRONG.

    I fell in love with my husband 24 years ago, both of us 26 then, and had to wait until last year before we were able to marry (thanks to Massachusetts). We got tested shortly after we started dating: me poz, he: neg. We have had many highs and some pretty deep lows, watched so many friends die, suffered our own medical setbacks, and been quite active supporting HIV/AIDS causes and gay rights. That any two twits, who happen to be opposite sexed, can meet and within moment marry on a whim, and my marriage is not recognized in my new state, us infuriating.

    But, Not to fight?

    Maybe it is my own middle America upbringing; but is it not the American story to fight for your rights. The Revolutionary War against British tyranny? The Civil War to end slavery? Women’s suffrage? The Civil Rights fight?

    If not for those gallant hero(ine)s at New York’s Stonewall Inn, who physically fought against riot geared NYPD, outnumbered and wearing high heels, what would the status of gay rights be today. No, this is a good fight, and spending money is cheap.

  • Is there a chance?


  • a nonny mouse

    Derrick Mathis, we all know Jimmy P. Wood is you. Your writing style, which is pissed all over the gay internets, gives it away. If you’re going to be a disgruntled bitch queen who contributes nothing but meaningless assessments to the grassroots community, at least be one that can recognize your own dead giveaway-ness.

  • B

    In No. 7, Mike in Asheville, nee “in Brooklyn” wrote, “But, Not to fight? Maybe it is my own middle America upbringing; but is it not the American story to fight for your rights.”

    Keep in mind that delaying a ballot measure to 2012 or 2014 does not preclude fighting for your rights. You can do a lot of fund-raising, “outreach”, and other activities that may pay off more than a 2010 attempt – it depends on the chances of success in 2010 as to which is the more effective strategy.

    BTW, some Republicans are hoping that a repeal of Proposition Eight is on next year’s ballot because they think it will help them get a Republican governor by dragging out the conservative base in larger numbers (this matters more in an election for governor versus the assembly or senate because of gerrymandering). has an article mentioning this point (the title suggests the Republicans may be delusional about their chances regardless). To get gay-rights legislation passed, you have to get the governor to go along as there are enough anti-gay legislators that you can’t override a veto.

  • naghanenu

    Honestly…i dont see u winning this.

    Human nature prevails. Unless some major kick ass wins come in next year for gay marriage that make this repeal workable….i dont see it happening. 2008 was not so far away. People who voted against have not changed their minds. And not all teens support gay marriage so….the anti gay side still have the majority.

    I say wait and plan. I understand the rush you feel, i do but wait and plan. Appeal to the masses…stop attacking anti gay religious groups and get some freaking allies.

  • 1EqualityUSA

    2014 …The vines are ripening. Patience is our friend this round.

    Our mothers and our grandmothers, some of them: moving to music not yet written.
    – Alice Walker

  • Frances Motiwalla

    We can talk about our desires…but will we actually show up and volunteer? We can win back marriage easily, I believe, if we all seriously invest our time, energy and money into a really solid grassroots campaign. I think EQCA’s 3 year plan makes a lot of sense and is starting to build a solid foundation now of steady canvasses and volunteer recruitment. One year goes by REALLY fast and I have a hard time believe a small group on its own could pull off a solid 2010 fight. Also, I dislike that this article makes it sound like EQCA’s “Multi-Million dollar budgets” are some sort of profligate/greedy/corprate-esque kinda thing. They are employing a smart strategy of effective street fundraising and a lot of people are putting in a lot of time and hard work to raise that money to pay non-profit salaries to really hard working organizers who work really long thankless hours.

    See you at thursday night’s phone bank!

  • a nonny mouse

    “They are employing a smart strategy of effective street fundraising and a lot of people are putting in a lot of time and hard work to raise that money to pay non-profit salaries to really hard working organizers who work really long thankless hours.”

    You mean paying Grassroots Campaigns Inc. an insane percentage cut to have non-EQCA employees and non-EQCA volunteers annoy people on the streets repeatedly with their other clients Save the Children and Greenpeace? On what planet are you on to think that strategy is effective? People on the street in LA and SF are THOROUGHLY annoyed with those tactics.

    You mean confusing the community by having people sign a “pledge” since May 2009, so people who are legitimately for 2010 are confused into thinking they’ve already done their part to get a million signatures?

    And it saddens me that EQCA is parroting moves by the teabagger groups like Freedomworks who say they are grassroots when that could not be further from the truth. The paid staffers and fancy fundraising galas tell me so.

    Amazing to me how few LGBT citizens think critically about the behavior of the orgs whose mission is to serve US, not themselves.

  • Norm D Plume

    So long as bloggers and non-activists attack the grassroots marriage equality movement with the same vigor and vitriol as the bigots, then lgbt people will not be able to win. But we should still keep trying because WAITING INDEFINITELY (or until after the next election) is not a strategy.

  • Sam

    “Because it’s being led by the activists who weren’t deeply involved in 2008’s bungled No On 8 campaign.”

    Yeah, ’cause who could be better to lead this effort than people who did nothing the first time around and are suddenly all “activist-y” because they woke up on November 5, 2008 all WTF? I guess you’d also go to a surgeon who has never operated before, ’cause hey, he’s never made a mistake, so he’s gotta be better than a veteran doctor who’s made a few slip-ups.

    “their multi-million dollar budgets”

    Well, yeah for EQCA, but has Courage Campaign even raised a single million yet (much less “multi”)? Didn’t they recently have a hard time getting $200k together?

  • Norm D Plume

    Taking the next step for equality

    December 16, 2009

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Community activists and students from five area colleges came together December 8 in Amherst, Mass., to hear presentations on the “state of LGBT inequality.” The meeting was organized by the Western Massachusetts chapter of Equality Across America and took up a range of issues, including LGBT bashing and hate crimes legislation; employment discrimination and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act; the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy”; transgender inequality; same-sex marriage; and the need to change a section of Massachusetts law that associates homosexuality with pedophilia.

    Gary Lapon, a founding member of the chapter and member of the International Socialist Organization, gave this talk titled “Why we need a movement.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    THESE ARE difficult times. It has been more than 40 years since the Stonewall Rebellion launched the modern LGBT movement, and there is still pervasive social and institutional inequality.

    However, the laws on the books are out of sync with public opinion. Some 89 percent of people in the U.S. oppose employment discrimination against LGBT people; two-thirds favor allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military; and over 50 percent support same-sex partnerships with the same rights and benefits as marriage. While only 40 percent of people support same-sex marriage, this is one-third more than the 30 percent who supported it five years ago.

    And that is in the absence of a mass movement unapologetically demanding LGBT equality, which would do a lot to shift public opinion.

    There are over 30 million LGBT people in this country, and tens of millions more who are allies. The contradiction between the laws on the books and the actual and potential public support for LGBT equality is wide enough to drive a movement through. If just a fraction of those people devoted themselves to the struggle for equality, we could build a movement involving hundreds of thousands of people.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    ALMOST A year into the first term of President Barack Obama, with Democratic super-majorities in the House and Senate, it is clear that LGBT equality will not be handed down from on high. We must struggle for it from below. As the abolitionist Frederick Douglass said, “Without struggle, there is no progress.”

    This is why we organized buses to bring 150 people from Western Massachusetts to Washington, D.C., on October 11 for the National Equality March, joining a quarter of a million people to march on the Capitol building to demand full equality for LGBT people in all matters governed by civil law in all 50 states–now!

    Many of the leading LGBT rights organizations, such as the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), opposed the march until the last minute, only offering limited support when it became clear the march was going to be a success. Many said it would be a waste of resources. Others, like openly gay Democratic Congressman Barney Frank, said it would have no impact–that the only thing we would be putting pressure on is “the grass.”

    However, after years of leading a state-by-state struggle for marriage equality and spending tens of millions of dollars–such as the $40 million spent on the failed effort to defeat Proposition 8 in California (including television ads that didn’t even mention the word “gay”), as well as millions in campaign contributions to Democrats who do not support full equality–what has the corporate-sponsored “Gay, Inc.” gotten us?

    Marriage equality has been won in seven states, but it has been taken away in two, Maine and California, where a slim majority of voters were able to strip same-sex couples of their civil rights. And even in states like Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage is legal, without over 1,000 federal benefits, it’s still “separate and unequal.”

    We need a new strategy, one that sets as its goal full equality on the federal level, with no compromises and no more waiting and begging for crumbs. Like march organizer David Mixner said, we’re equal, and we need to begin to act like it and demand our rights now!

    President Obama was elected last year because his message of change, which included verbal support for LGBT rights, inspired LGBT people, youth and people of color to turn out to vote for him in record numbers. But what has he done? Of the dozens of items on the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s checklist of “low-hanging fruit”–steps towards equality that Obama could make with the stroke of a pen, including outlawing discrimination against transgender people in federal employment and recognition of homeless LGBT youth–only one has been checked off so far: more accurate accounting of same sex-couples on the census.

    In the lead-up to the vote on Question 1 to repeal marriage equality in Maine this November, when asked where he stood, Attorney General Eric Holder–whose Justice Department in June, less than two weeks after Obama declared it LGBT Pride Month, defended the anti-gay Defense of Marriage Act in court by effectively comparing same-sex marriage to incest–said he didn’t know enough to have a position.

    Obama, who has said he believes marriage should be between a man and a woman, had nothing to say about Question 1, and the day before the election, Obama’s former campaign organization e-mailed Maine Democrats–asking them to call people in New Jersey to support Gov. Jon Corzine, with no mention of the marriage vote in Maine.

    The Obama administration didn’t step in to support marriage equality in New York, which was defeated last week after several Democrats voted against equality, and despite an international outcry over Bill 18 in Uganda, which would make homosexuality punishable by life imprisonment or death, the Obama administration has yet to release a statement of condemnation. As Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, “There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    THIS IS nothing new. In 1960, Democrat John Fitzgerald Kennedy was elected having promised African Americans that he would oppose Jim Crow discrimination. However, like Obama, Kennedy did little unless he was forced to act. Instead, he attempted to keep the civil rights movement in check, and to negotiate with and appease bigots such as Alabama Gov. George Wallace.

    He only intervened to protect activists from racist Southern brutality when the movement was able to thrust the issue into the national spotlight, making inaction no longer an option. In many cases, FBI agents and federal marshals stood by and watched as local and state police violated the constitutional rights of civil rights activists.

    In fact, it wasn’t until 1963, when thousands of Blacks led by Martin Luther King Jr. faced Bull Connor’s police dogs and fire hoses to win a victory against segregation–exposing the brutality of Jim Crow racism to the eyes of the country and the world–that JFK introduced the Civil Rights Act that was enacted the next year. And it wasn’t just Birmingham; there were marches, sit-ins and other campaigns in hundreds of cities and towns across the South, a mass movement involving thousands upon thousands of people.

    The African American civil rights movement teaches us lessons that are vital for the success of our struggle for LGBT civil rights today–that it is possible for a mass movement of ordinary people, through determined action and effective leadership, motivated by love and a desire for equality, to triumph over the forces of bigotry and hatred, against odds greater than those that we face now; that we cannot rely on politicians to grant us equal rights, but that we must rely on ourselves to win them.

    Politicians will not act in our favor unless they see that the costs of inaction are greater than the costs of action, a calculation based on conditions it is up to us to create. The civil rights movement taught us that we cannot win unless we are clear that we cannot wait–that we must unapologetically demand full equality now. To quote Frederick Douglass again, “Power concedes nothing without a demand; it never has and it never will.”

    And the civil rights movement taught us that we cannot win city by city, and state by state. We face federal inequality, so we must build a movement that demands equality on the federal level.

    Finally, we must forge unity and solidarity. Shamefully, some, such as Barney Frank and the HRC, have argued that it is “more realistic” to win civil rights for LGB people by leaving our transgender brothers and sisters behind. This has created justifiable resentment within the trans community, and we should strive to make Equality Across America an organization that is genuinely inclusive of trans people, and uncompromising when it comes to their civil rights and demands.

    We should also reject other divisive ideas–such as those that scapegoated African Americans for the passage of Proposition 8–and build a movement that is inclusive of LGBT people of color and their demands. Both of these will require more than lip service: we will only forge these alliances by standing in concrete solidarity with movements for trans rights and racial justice.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    WHILE THE civil rights movement could rely on the Black church to provide the movement with a framework, resources and a new generation of talented leaders like King, there is not an analogous institution in the LGBT community. However, as King wrote in “Why We Can’t Wait,” “Fortunately, history does not pose problems without eventually producing solutions. The disenchanted, the disadvantaged and the disinherited seem, at times of deep crisis, to summon up some sort of genius that enables them to perceive and capture the appropriate weapons to carve out their destiny.”

    Since November of 2008, when California’s Proposition 8 banned gay marriage, tens of thousands took to the streets in California and across the country. This setback became a step forward: the launching of a new grassroots movement for LGBT equality. New organizations were founded by young people new to the struggle, as well as by seasoned activists reenergized by the explosion of anger following this bigoted attack on the rights of LGBT people.

    Groups like One Struggle, One Fight in San Francisco have engaged in civil disobedience–for example, when hundreds shut down Van Ness Avenue, which leads to the Golden Gate Bridge, after the California Supreme Court upheld Proposition 8. In San Diego, the San Diego Alliance for Marriage Equality staged a sit-in in a marriage license office to protest the California Supreme Court’s upholding of Prop 8, where dozens of activists listened to a reading of Martin Luther King’s “Letter from Birmingham Jail.”

    In Chicago, LGBT rights activists have forged alliances with immigrant rights and labor activists, standing in solidarity with Republic Windows & Doors workers who staged the first successful factory occupation in the U.S. since the 1930s. And on October 11, a quarter of a million people descended on Washington, D.D. to demand full LGBT equality, in a march organized by grassroots activists on a shoestring budget, without corporate sponsorship and without the assistance of mainstream LGBT organizations.

    Now, we are taking the next step with the founding of Equality Across America. All around the country, including here in Western Massachusetts, dozens of groups of activists who built the march have founded chapters of Equality Across America (EAA), united around a single demand: full equality for all lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people–now! Regional conferences are being planned for this spring to build EAA, meet with one another and figure out how we can work together to win our demands.

    Millions of people are on our side, and millions more will question their homophobia and transphobia if we build a movement to challenge them, just as the civil rights movement changed millions of minds about racism.

    We can draw on the rich history of struggles against oppression: the civil rights movement, LGBT struggles of the past, the women’s rights movement and the labor movement, among others. And we will have to create new strategies and tactics specific to today: sit-ins at marriage license offices, protests, campaigns to win support from student governments and other organizations, putting pressure on politicians, utilizing the media and creating our own media to get our message out.

    We can and have sought allies from other struggles both locally and nationally, but it is critical that we maintain our political independence–that we do not support politicians who refuse to stand up for our rights. Like one popular sign at the National Equality March said: “Attention Democrats: the gay ATM is closed,” and since then, a campaign has begun to cease all contributions to Democrats until they take concrete action on LGBT equality.

    We must build a mass, independent, democratic, unapologetic movement from below, and to do that, we need you, your friends, fellow students, co-workers and thousands more people we have yet to meet. Join us not as passive supporters, but as agents in the shaping of our own collective destiny. History is on our side, and it shows us that such a movement can be built–despite what our high school textbooks tell us, history is made not by a few “great men,” but by ordinary people who stand up and demand their rights.

    We have come a long way. There are LGBT people today who remember when homosexuality was considered by psychiatrists to be a mental illness. Today, millions live out and proud, and millions more consider homophobia and transphobia to be unacceptable. We have a long struggle ahead, but we will get there. I hope you will join us in taking the next step on the road to equality together.

  • Jimmy P. Wood

    when will people like norm learn that no one likes to read a long ass speech in a post sure dont want to read that in a comment

    maybe about the time john henning and his band of lawyers stop pushing everyone around and let us come together again

    guess that is in 2012

    thanks john..for the bruises

    hope your name in the paper is worth it

    mr jacobs and mr kors are impressed

    about 20 people gonna show up at your meeting tonight


  • 1EqualityUSA

    #17 I read every word. Thanks

  • Brown Gay Al

    I don’t think so. In 2010 the Republican base will turn out. However less Hispanics and African Americans will turn out too.
    Some good and some bad news.
    In 2012 more Hispanics will turn out and I daresay less blacks than 2008.
    I think we should wait till 2014.

  • B

    In No. 3, bystander wrote, “That is certainly one take on it, however if you are going to look at larger trends, how about the overall trend of enthusiasm on the right and the left nationwide. From the polls I’ve been looking at Meg Whitman will be competitive in California in 2010, so i very much doubt anyone on the right will be staying home out of pessimism.”

    The problem for the Republicans is that conservatives dominate the Republican primaries, so a candidate has to “run to the right” to be nominated and then “run to the left” to get elected. It’s hard to do that and not end up looking like an opportunist.

    Campbell may be better than Whitman on gay rights, but the conservatives may hold his relatively liberal social positions against him. But then, he represented a fairly liberal district that would vote for a Republican only if he were liberal on social issues (fiscally conservative is OK in that district). He had less luck state wide in previous elections.

    Campbell was basically appointed to Congress by Silicon Valley royalty – his predecessor, a guy named Ernie Konnyu, got elected due to name recognition (he just ran for office repeatedly) and was actually a hard-nosed conservative ideologue who would not “play ball” in Washington. The royalty decided that Ernie, being basically a stubborn idiot, had to go and picked Campbell as his replacement, so he ended up with what I presume was a well funded campaign and Ernie lost the primary.

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