By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
As was shown on YouTube, Schwarzenegger nodded and lifted his microphone. “Well, first of all, I think that it would never happen in California, because I think that California people are much further along with that issue. And, number two, I will always be there to fight against that.”
The crowd of Log Cabin Republicans gave Schwarzenegger a lengthy standing ovation.
According to a well-connected source, the governor has “excellent relationships” with the California Log Cabin Republicans, with almost a dozen members named to state commissions or governor’s appointments. Log Cabin staff members had contacted Schwarzenegger’s staff and talked with his wife, Maria Shriver, a longtime friend of the gay community, about the governor making a public statement against the November ballot measure. Schwarzenegger showed up in San Diego soon after.
“This is an issue that’s important to a relatively small slice of voters,” says Democratic political strategist Sragow. “Schwarzenegger knows that, and he’s not too concerned what the activist base of his party thinks. He hasn’t cared too much in the past, and this will be the same.”
Once again, Sragow says, Schwarzenegger seemed to be playing out a bigger political strategy, with him looking like a champion of civil rights. Republican strategist Steinberg concurs, “Whatever he does will be less about the issue than his future political ambitions, whatever they are.”
Steinberg believes Schwarzenegger will be “low-key” on the ballot measure, and the governor even told The Sacramento Bee on the day of the gay-marriage ruling: “I don’t know how much time I have campaigning because, you know, I get requests all the time for campaigning.”
David Mixner, a respected political operative in the gay community and the Democratic Party, believes Schwarzenegger may still end up hitting the campaign trail to oppose the measure. “My guess is that once he sees we’re going to win, he’ll be there.”
Either way, one of the biggest political stars in California — and certainly the most influential Republican in the state — has very publicly, and adeptly, thrown his support behind the gay community’s right to marry. Now it’s a matter of whether the California Supreme Court ruling — which cannot be appealed in the U.S. Supreme Court — will stand beyond Election Day.
“IT’S THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY and epic battle in the history of our movement.”
David Mixner should know. Since the 1970s, when gay liberation was transforming into a visible political force, Mixner raised money for gay-friendly politicians, protested in the streets and fought off antigay measures in California, like the 1978 Briggs Initiative, which would have banned gays and lesbians from teaching in the public-school system. Mixner, also a member of Bill Clinton’s kitchen cabinet during his 1992 presidential campaign, believes a victory over the anti-gay-marriage November measure would propel the gay movement into new territory. “If we win,” he says, “we’re on our way to full equality. There’s no way they can stop us.”
With such high stakes at play for the gay-rights movement, and with the political and religious groups fighting to stop it, Mixner thinks a national confrontation will be played out in California. “Once it comes together,” says the political operative, “hundreds of thousands of dollars will come from around the country, and so will volunteers. It goes to the old notion, ‘As California goes, so goes the nation.’ There will be wide national media coverage. Everyone will be watching.”
Matt Staver, chairman of the Liberty Counsel, a nonprofit litigation group with connections to the late Rev. Jerry Falwell Sr. which fought for the preservation of Prop. 22, doesn’t see eye to eye with Mixner on many things, but this time he’s in complete agreement. “This is a national fight in California,” Staver says. “It’s going to require massive grassroots organization.”
But Staver believes it won’t be a “flashy media campaign, so it won’t be too costly.” He thinks his side will need “at least $5 million to $10 million ... most likely $10 million.”
Sragow, the Democratic strategist, says both sides will probably need to raise much more. With some of the most expensive TV markets in the country, he says a budget of $25 million to $30 million “is a low number.”
Gay-rights activists and national groups like the Human Rights Campaign are setting a fund-raising goal of $25 million, according to an inside source. The wealthy gay crowd in Los Angeles will undoubtedly play a major role, and Access Now for Gay and Lesbian Equality, the L. A. Gay and Lesbian Center and the Los Angeles chapter of the Log Cabin Republicans are gearing up for a serious moneymaking drive. “We can’t mess around,” Mixner says. “We have to do this right, and we have to find the best and brightest. We also have to put our egos aside and we need to be tough. We can’t tolerate people standing on the sidelines.”