Stop SB 48 Campaign Seeks to Repeal California's Gay History Law

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Mon, Jul 25, 2011 at 2:27 PM

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Gay Californians and their straight allies may soon have to fight off another ballot measure.

Governor Jerry Brown recently signed a state bill into law that ensures that the contributions of gays and gay rights are included in school textbooks. A group called Stop SB 48 now wants to repeal it.

Stop SB 48 recently filed paperwork with the state to start a petition drive for a ballot measure.

Stop SB 48 has wasted no time in creating a website and a Facebook page.

If the organization, which claims to be a "coalition of pro-family organizations, parents, students, teachers and more," gets the green light from the state, it will need to collect signatures from 504,760 registered California voters before mid-October, according to journalist Rex Wockner.

Equality California, the statewide gay rights group, sent out a mass email last week, asking for donations to reach a fundraising goal of $50,000 to combat the possible ballot measure.

"We must hire organizers to launch a statewide effort on the phones and on the ground," writes EQCA executive director Roland Palencia in the email, "and to recruit volunteers. We need to talk to every Californian we can so that they understand what the FAIR Education Act does to advance equality."

EQCA recently wrapped up a controversial town hall meeting tour in California, asking gays and lesbians what they thought about placing a pro-gay marriage initiative on the 2012 ballot.

Some critics think it's the wrong time to push for such an expensive ballot measure since a Prop. 8 lawsuit, in which a federal judge found the 2008 initiative to be unconstitutional, is still working its way through the appeals courts.

Gays and lesbians in California could be overwhelmed on the political front lines and financially if both the anti-gay history ballot measure and the pro-gay marriage initiative are placed on a 2012 ballot.

In 2008, gays and lesbians spent more than $40 million in trying to defeat Proposition 8, the successful ballot measure that banned legalized same-sex marriage.

The "No on 8" campaign, which was headed by leaders of mostly gay rights groups such as EQCA and the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, was criticized for running a sub-par political campaign.

No word yet on who would spearhead the fight to defeat Stop SB 48, but EQCA is already taking a clear leadership role.

For the other side, Archbishop Jose Gomez of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles has strongly opposed the gay history law.

SB 48 "would require school textbooks to teach about the sexual orientations of figures in American history," Gomez writes in The Tidings. "This amounts to the government rewriting history books based on pressure-group politics. It is also another example of the government interfering with parents' rights to be their children's primary educators."

Undoubtedly, that kind of reasoning will be used by the Stop SB 48 campaign.

Teaching gay history in California's schools could also become a national, hot button issue during the 2012 presidential race if Stop SB 48 is successful with its petition drive.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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