Outside the West Hollywood Auditorium, a nice volunteer from Equality California, the powerful gay rights group, handed us a slate card. To our amazement, we saw that EQCA described Proposition 20 as a ballot measure that “eliminates LGBT-inclusive redistricting for Congress.” EQCA also pushed for Proposition 27, saying that it “restores LGBT-inclusive redistricting for state legislature.”
Yet L.A. Weekly wrote a news story last week that details how Proposition 27 actually restores a shady political practice called “gerrymandering,” which allows California politicians, not citizens, to draw their own districts, gives them a “safe seat,” and essentially rigs an election before voters even get to the ballot box.
Nearly all major newspapers oppose Prop. 27 and support Prop. 20, which would allow a citizens' commission to draw up congressional districts and stops gerrymandering.
So what's EQCA's deal?
We asked EQCA spokeswoman Vaishalee Raja to explain to us exactly how Prop. 20 “eliminates” LGBT-inclusive redistricting and how Prop. 27 “restores” it.
Raja came back with a non-answer, writing in an email, “Essentially, a 'yes' on 27 and 'no' on 20 do the same thing – they both eliminate redistricting panels and put redistricting in the hands of the legislature where it is now.”
Raja says nothing about how Prop. 20 would specifically hurt the gay community or how Prop. 27 would help it.
Also, she has it wrong.
Prop. 20 seeks to expand the work of a citizens' commission, which was created with Proposition 11 in 2008. That commission has already been given the task of drawing state legislature districts. If Prop. 20 is passed, citizens, not politicians, would also create the boundaries for congressional districts.
A “no” vote on Prop. 20 would only prevent the citizens' commission from drawing congressional districts. It would not eliminate the commission from doing its work on state legislature districts, too.
Proposition 27, however, would eliminate the citizens' commission altogether, and state and congressional politicians would be allowed to gerrymander their districts.
Then EQCA executive director Geoff Kors gave us a statement:
“The current process has resulted in a pro-equality legislature and likely more than five percent of the legislature will be LGBT come December. We know the legislature will have LGBT representation and therefore our community will be represented in the drawing of districts if done by the legislature. We don't know if that will occur if there is a new commission created.”
In other words, Kors can't say for certain that Prop. 20 “eliminates” LGBT-inclusiveness. He just doesn't know what will happen.
We should also point out that he doesn't know if gerrymandering will automatically result with gay-friendly and gay and lesbian candidates. Districts could be rigged in a way that prevents a wonderful gay candidate from winning.
Beware of EQCA's scare tactics.
Contact Patrick Range McDonald at firstname.lastname@example.org.