Equality California Won’t Try to Put Prop 8 on the Ballot for 2012, But Other Activists Will

Earlier this year, Equality California announced that they were going to call on the community to help them make a big decision — whether to make a push to put marriage equality on the ballot in California in 2012. While obviously ending Prop 8 as soon as possible is the goal, EQCA acknowledged that if the general population still hadn’t come around to the idea of same-sex marriage significantly more than they did back in 2008, then there would be no point getting it on the ballot at all — it would just be shot down by voters, putting us right back where we started despite the hard work of activists and campaign organizers. EQCA’s words back in April:

“Because legal experts are advising that the Proposition 8 federal challenge could take years to resolve, Equality California is launching a community engagement initiative to start a discussion on whether to return to the ballot in 2012 to repeal the marriage ban or whether to wait for a final decision by the courts,” the group said. “Before making any recommendation, Equality California will survey its membership, hold 10 town halls across the state and an online town hall, conduct a poll of likely 2012 voters, consult with political experts, coalition partners and engage with its members and the LGBT community. Equality California will announce results of polling and analysis by Labor Day.”

The results of this ‘membership survey’ are now in: EQCA won’t seek to put a Prop 8 repeal on the ballot in California in 2012. 

“This is exciting work, but it also means that given what we know about public opinion and the significant challenges of the current political and economic climate, Equality California will not lead an effort to return to the ballot in 2012 to overturn Proposition 8.”

This communication is significantly more vague than the one back in April, when they admitted to making some key errors as far as campaigning and failing to fully engage the community, and announcing their intent to do better this time. The declaration that they won’t work for the ballot in 2012 actually came buried in the middle of an email about something else, as FrontiersLA noted, a “breakthrough project” about public education called “The Breakthrough Conversation.” In the meantime, the organization Love Honor Cherish told Frontiers that they’re now going to pick up where EQCA is leaving off.

“If EQCA abdicates their responsibility to fight for equality for the LGBT Community in California and to honor their prior commitments, Love Honor Cherish will fill the void. If they move forward as they should, we will work hand-in-hand with them.” 

Love Honor Cherish is an organization “dedicated solely to the repeal of Prop 8,” and since their website currently announces that they’re pursuing its repeal by November 2010, it does seem like a safe bet that they would definitely want it by 2012.  While their drive to move forward to repeal Prop 8 is certainly admirable, their response to EQCA’s announcement doesn’t seem to address the other organization’s reasons — while it’s totally fair to call into question someone else’s assertions about “public opinion and the significant challenges of the political and economic climate,” those factors need to be taken into account. Back in April, EQCA’s reasoning was that if public opinion is already set against a vote for this coming year, then the resources and person-hours that would go towards that campaign could work for something else, or even begin laying the groundwork for a vote at a later date. Where does this stop being a matter of principle and start being a matter of smart activism in a very difficult time?

FrontiersLA promises to continue investigating this story and Love Honor Cherish’s plan — it will be interesting to see how EQCA responds, and to see what Love Honor Cherish’s plan is. At this point, there seems to be no question that Prop 8 will be repealed. But when — and how — is still a mystery.

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Rachel is Autostraddle's Senior Editor and the editor who presides over books as well as news and politics coverage. Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel currently lives in Michigan. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy."

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6 Comments

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    Extremely disappointing. We must keep putting it on the ballot. It’s inevitable that we will win this battle. And waiting out an election cycle, aside from putting off the necessary changes that help us gain our constitutionally-given rights, also robs a lot of established couples the security they deserve and need, particularly if they’re aging and rely on the financial benefits of marriage to avoid living in poverty.

    I think that 2010 and 2011 have been banner years in the fight for equal rights. The groundswell is definitely shifting. Society’s awareness and opinion in 2011 is drastically different than it was in 2008, the year that marked the end of a period of outrageous tyranny.

    Some of the change in mindset among voters definitely stems from the NY victory and the discourse that’s surrounded it. Tragically, the rash of reported gay suicides has made a powerful impact on “mainstream” society’s views as well.

    I hate the term martyr and what it denotes. But those dozens of young men and women who’ve taken their lives in response to torment and torture have brought to light many realities of living queer. Many centrist voters live in a bubble until they’re confronted with reality. We will win votes from among those enlightened.

    In reviewing historical change effected by civil rights and feminist activists, I see a pattern of decades of ceaseless work in order to achieve voter-mandated change. I don’t see how we’ll ever achieve our goal without relentlessly stating our demands and putting it to the voters. Waiting for an increasingly conservative judiciary to wave their magic gavels seems unwise and far too passive.

    I’m beholden to LCH for taking up the mantle. I will be there fighting with them.

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    If we put Prop 8 back on the ballot and successfully repeal it, what happens to the legal process? Does Prop 8′s trip to the Supreme Court get derailed? I could be wrong here, but don’t we really need the S.C. to strike down one of these state-sanctioned discrimination laws as unconstitutional, so that all of the other state laws and finally DOMA go down with it?

    Someone who knows about the legal system please explain.

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    I hope that this ends up on the ballot, but if it has any effect on the current standing of the trail in the Supreme court then I’d probably support Equality California’s position. Getting this case to the United States supreme court is actually one way that we could achieve marriage equality. The chances of that are about as likely as me catching the mouse that’s running around in my house with my bare hands, but it’s worth a shot.

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    The whole Proposition thing here in California is beyond me. Why the fuck do we have to once again be subjected to the majority voting on the rights of the minority? I’m so over this and I guess I don’t care if Prop 8 isn’t brought to the 2012 ballot or not. The only way we’ll get anywhere is through the Federal court system, so I guess I don’t consider this a defeat or disappointing. I find the “Proposition” procedure disappointing more than anything.

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