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Queer Town: "No on 8" Executive Committee Revealed


Late yesterday, gay rights activist and blogger Michael Petrelis accomplished the seemingly impossible--he found and published the 16 "principal officers" of the "No on 8" campaign's executive committee. If you think that kind of information would have been easily available, you are very, very wrong.  As Petrelis writes in his post, "It's easier to locate the names of the Chinese politburo than the names of the ruling body of No on 8."

Indeed. Despite the fact that the executive committee spent over $40 million of donations from the

general public to defeat Proposition 8, and despite the fact that they were fighting a battle

to maintain the legal right for gays and lesbians from anywhere in the

world to marry in California, the leaders of the "No on 8" campaign have consistently refused to name its 16 principal officers.

Going back to October, I first asked for a list of names and no one at the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center or Equality California -- two of the main organizations involved in the "No on 8" campaign -- could "remember" who sat on the executive committee or its sub-committees. Petrelis started his quest even earlier, requesting information in September. 

I never understood the reason for the secrecy, and no one gave me a good explanation for it. But whenever people in power are hiding basic information about who's running the show, it's usually because they don't want to be blamed for one thing or another. In this case, the "No on 8" executive committee probably didn't want to take the fall for the debacle that happened on November 4, 2008, when a slim majority of voters in California passed Proposition 8. 

(Side Note: I always found it curious that Lorri Jean, one of the members of the executive committee, was incredibly quick to divert all attention away from the failures of the "No on 8" campaign -- which were many -- and point the finger at the Mormon church. Jean, if you remember, first started the Mormon backlash on Wednesday, November 5 at a rally in West Hollywood, whipping people up and announcing a demonstration at the Los Angeles Mormon Temple on Thursday, November 6. She continued with her anti-Mormon rant for the next several days whenever she could grab a microphone. Then Jean skipped town for several weeks, and returned from vacation this month, according to press reports.)

Anyhow, here are the people who spent your political contributions and led the losing cause to defeat Proposition 8, which is now costing more money to repeal and has caused a ripple effect throughout the country where politicians in such places as New York and Minnesota have stalled pro-gay marriage legislation.

"No on 8" Executive Committee, Principal Officers:

Geoff Kors, executive director, Equality California;
Lorri Jean, chief executive officer, Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center;
Kate Kendell, executive director, National Center for Lesbian Rights;
Michael Fleming, executive director, David Bohnett Foundation;
Marty Rouse, national field director, Human Rights Campaign;
Heather Carrigan, ACLU of Southern California;
Oscar De La O, Beinestar Human Services in Los Angeles;
Sue Dunlop, Los Angeles;
Maya Harris, ACLU of Northern California;
Don Howes, Los Angeles;
Dennis Herrera, City Attorney of San Francisco;
Dr. Delores Jacobs, chief executive officer, San Diego LGBT Community Center;
Joyce Newstadt, San Francisco;
Tawal Panyacosit, director, Asian and Pacific Islander Equality in San Francisco;
Rashid Robinson, Los Angeles;
Kevin Tilden, communications/political consultant, San Diego;
and "No on 8" treasurer, Steve Mele, founder of ML Associates in West Hollywood.

Equality California will be hosting an "Equality Summit" in Los Angeles on Saturday, Jan. 24, but it's not open to the general public and the organization has set certain rules for how journalists can cover the event. Many of the "No on 8" leaders will no doubt be in attendance.

(Update: Equality California has recently lifted all restrictions on the press covering the Equality Summit.)

Contact Patrick Range McDonald at pmcdonald@laweekly.com.