Thursday, October 06, 2011
Yesterday the LGBT advocacy organization Equality California made it official that they would not lead the community back to the ballot next year to try to overturn Prop. 8, the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Right after the 2008 vote, there were heated calls from many gay sectors to bring up the issue again as soon as possible. Approaching the 2010 election, I was certain that a quick counter-initiative was a losing proposition and delighted that we didn't try it. This time around, I was agnostic, but I think I'm pleased to hear that our leaders have backed away from another campaign.
They estimate that it would cost $40 million to fight this kind of initiative. The fundraising would be tough. With New York, a huge state won via the legislative horse-trading and donor pressure, now anchoring the marriage movement, winning a tough vote in California at that kind of cost isn't likely to attract out of state funding. National funding for gay rights is more likely to go to smaller states where there's more chance of victory with less bucks.
Though nationally polls show rising approval for gay marriage, there's been less change in California, possibly because the emotionally charged Prop. 8 campaign left many previously indifferent voters feeling locked into one position or the other.
The 2012 election is not likely to pull out the kind of infrequent and new voters we'll need to win this thing. California won't be a battleground state unless the economy falls off a further cliff -- and if that happens we'll be too poor and too demoralized to make the fight. There will be lots of worthy initiatives for progressives to work on, including one to replace capital punishment with sentences of life without parole.
Eventually, unless an on-going federal legal challenge succeeds in invalidating Prop. 8 (still a real possibility), gay marriage will have to win at the ballot box in this state. But we aren't ready for that route just yet.