Will Equality California Push For Pro-Gay Marriage Ballot Measure in 2012?

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Mon, Apr 4, 2011 at 2:08 PM

click to enlarge Gay marriage supporters in West Hollywood in October, 2008. - PATRICK RANGE MCDONALD
  • Patrick Range McDonald
  • Gay marriage supporters in West Hollywood in October, 2008.
Equality California, the major gay rights organization, is looking into whether or not it will push for a pro-gay marriage ballot measure sometime very soon, probably 2012.

"Legal experts advise that the case might not be resolved for several years -- and there is no guarantee how the courts will ultimately rule, despite the amazing work of the lawyers leading this effort," writes EQCA Interim Executive Director Jim Carroll.

A federal lawsuit seeking to overturn Proposition 8 is working its way through the appeals process. In August, 2010, U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker found the 2008 ballot measure to be unconstitutional.

Carroll asks EQCA supporters in the email: "So what do we, as a community, do? Do we wait until the courts rule? Do we move forward and try and win marriage back at the ballot box? And if so, what level of public support do we need before we return to the ballot?"

The interim executive director writes that Equality California "will conduct a poll of likely 2012 voters, speak to political experts, consult with our coalition partners and engage with our members and the LGBT community."

In 2009, EQCA undertook a similar, exploratory effort, and decided that a 2010 pro-gay marriage ballot measure effort would not be politically viable.

Carroll also writes that EQCA will launch a survey before it does polling or talks with experts. He also promises that 10 town hall meetings will be held around the state, including a "virtual" town hall meeting.

Equality California has recently been criticized for not holding town hall meetings during the ongoing job search to replace former executive director Geoff Kors.

Some critics wonder if such a ballot measure would be inappropriate while the Proposition 8 federal lawsuit has yet to be resolved.

"I'm not so much for it, right now," says Courage Campaign Founder Rick Jacobs, who was involved in previous efforts to possibly put a pro-gay marriage initiative on the ballot.

Jacobs has yet to talk with Courage Campaign members and says his remarks are only his "personal beliefs."

He warns that a pro-gay marriage ballot measure in 2012 could cause further legal problems for the gay marriage cause in California. "Courts don't typically lead public opinion," says Jacobs. "They usually follow it. A ballot measure may provide a court an excuse to further delay [a ruling on Proposition 8]."

Jacobs adds, "If anybody imagines going back to the ballot in 2012, they better more than imagine where the money is going to come from."

In 2008, the "No on 8" campaign spent some $40 million to try to defeat the ballot measure. Some gay rights activists wonder if the millions of dollars needed to pass a pro-gay marriage initiative would be better spent elsewhere, especially when the Prop. 8 federal lawsuit is still making its way through the courts.

A town hall meeting is scheduled for West Hollywood on May 25.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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