Queer Town Exclusive: Rick Jacobs: Gay Marriage Can Be Won in 2010

For months, gay rights groups have been questioning whether 2010 or 2012 is the best election year to overturn Proposition 8, with the gay community and straight allies waiting for an answer. Today, they got it.

At a little after ten o'clock in the morning, Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs, a gay man who heads one of the largest grassroots political groups in California, sent out an email saying "we are pushing ahead to file a (pro-gay marriage) ballot measure" in 2010.

An hour later, Equality California, a major force behind the failed "No on 8" campaign and one of the largest, and more mainstream, gay rights groups in California, released its own statement, saying it recommends "returning to (the) ballot in 2012." The latter announcement was picked up by the Los Angeles Times and Sacramento Bee, but with no mention of Courage Campaign's plans.

In an exclusive interview, Rick Jacobs talks with Queer Town about the recent developments.

As news about the gay marriage debate broke earlier in the day, Jacobs was dealing with a personal matter in Tennessee. But when contacted by Queer Town, he said that Courage Campaign is "solid on winning. We're plowing ahead" with a 2010, pro-gay marriage ballot measure.

He emphasized that his group intends "to work with people, and we want to work with people" and that Courage Campaign cannot work "alone" in the fight to legalize, once again, gay marriage in California.

"We want to win," said Jacobs, "and we think we can do that just as well in 2010 as 2012. So why wait?"

Jacobs said Courage Campaign's position was backed up by a recent fund raising drive, in which the group received $135,998 in "small" donations in a matter of days. "It shows we have a grassroots movement that wants to move forward," said Jacobs.

Jacobs did not believe Equality California's same-day announcement was some kind of political move to neutralize Courage Campaign's 2010 effort. 

The two groups have been battling for months over the timing of the next pro-gay marriage ballot measure, as well as how such a campaign should be run and by whom, which L.A. Weekly wrote about in a cover story titled "Setting the (Gay) Wedding Table."

Yes! on Equality, a grassroots, gay rights group that has filed language for a 2010, pro-gay marriage ballot measure with the California Attorney General, says in an email alert that it is "extremely disappointed, but not surprised" with Equality California's announcement.

"Every indicator and every consultant we've met with (including those that ran Barack Obama's campaign and Winner & Mandabach Campaigns, which has run more "yes" ballot initiatives than any other consultant or firm in the country) tell us we can win marriage equality back in 2010," writes Robert Polzoni, a member of Yes! on Equality.

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at

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