Will Stop SB 48 Get Anti-Gay History Initiative on 2012 Ballot?

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Tue, Sep 27, 2011 at 7:00 AM

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"Stop SB 48," the group that wants to repeal a state law that allows California students to learn about important people in history who were gay, claimed in an email to supporters yesterday afternoon that its petition drive for a ballot measure will be successful.

"The signed petitions are coming in at an incredible rate -- tens of thousands a day," the email reads. "It looks like we are going to make the goal of more than 500,000 valid signatures all delivered to our Sacramento office by October 10."

Gay rights activists have said that the anti-gay history initiative would be difficult to defeat in June, 2012, when the ballot measure would go before California voters.

In a conference call with reporters in August, which was reported by the Bay Area Reporter, Equality California executive director Roland Palencia said, "The prospects are not good if [the repeal referendum] gets to the ballot. ... I'm not under any illusion that we necessarily have any advantage on this."

Stop SB 48 has gathered signatures largely through volunteers and contacts with churches.

Equality California, Courage Campaign, and other gay rights and progressive groups organized a "decline to sign" campaign to counter the petition drive.

If Stop SB 48 is successful, the initiative would be placed on the June, 2012, when California Republicans are expected to show up in large numbers for the Republican presidential primary.

In addition, more politically conservative voters, who are among the most active in California Republican circles, tend to cast their ballots during primary season.

With that kind of political atmosphere, gay rights activists will be facing a major battle, in which a pro-gay history campaign will probably cost tens of millions of dollars.

In July, Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 48, also known as the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act, into law.

It revised an existing law that adds the LGBT community to a list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups that are covered in textbooks and other instructional materials in schools.

Stop SB 48 wants to repeal FAIR through a ballot measure. In mid-October, the state will officially declare if the group's petition drive has been successful.

For the past several weeks, on every Wednesday, L.A. Weekly has been highlighting important gays and lesbians in history -- the same people Stop SB 48 doesn't want California students to know about.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.

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