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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine Setback Won't Deter Californians Seeking Prop. 8 Repeal in 2010 -- Unless it Does

Posted By on Wed, Nov 4, 2009 at 12:59 PM

click to enlarge Bad day for cake yesterday
  • Bad day for cake yesterday
For those who support same-sex marriage, yesterday's defeat in Maine was both a head-scratcher and a stomach-punch. The "No on 1" campaign was well-run, well-financed, not hamstrung by, say, the mayor of Bangor crowing about "whether you like it or not," and a huge percentage of Mainers flooded the polls. And yet, the state's same-sex marriage laws were still overturned.

So, what does this mean for California? Oddly enough, yesterday's Maine election seems to appear as all things to all people. Those dead-set on attempting to repeal Proposition 8 on the 2010 ballot see this as all the more impetus to get cracking. And those hoping to wait until 2012 point out how this startling failure indicates the benefits of waiting for the right time to unhorse Prop. 8, not merely the soonest.

Today, Restore Equality 2010 unveiled its "Million for a Million" fund-raising campaign, hoping to amass the cash necessary to garner the million signatures necessary to get a same-sex marriage initiative onto the 2010 ballot. Spokesman Jeffrey Taylor told SF Weekly that there's no time to lose in getting back on the ballot -- "I think waiting for [elderly anti-gay marriage voters] to die is not a very nice strategy." Added Robert Polzoni from Yes! On Equality, "We believe 2010 is still viable. We can't allow those bigots and National Organization for Marriage who beat us in Maine to beat us again in California. If we wait three years, we hand them another victory."

And yet, an anonymous source within Restore Equality 2010 told us even within the ranks of organizations pushing for a 2010 initiative, trouble is brewing. There are those who favor delaying a ballot measure if polling and fund-raising doesn't materialize, and others who favor a 2010 initiative come hell or high water. Our source does not believe the latter possess the ability to gather the necessary million signatures on their own.  

Meanwhile, Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California, said that same-sex marriage loss in 2010 could keep advocates from even mounting a 2012 campaign. "You can't go back to the voters every two years," he said. "Voters harden their positions." And fund-raising dries up.

Kors -- who took a great deal of heat following the failure of the campaign against Prop. 8 -- says that his organization's polling shows that far more same-sex marriage-friendly voters will head to the polls in '12 than next year. "The percentage of young voters jumps from 7 percent in a governor's race to 16 percent in a presidential election," says Kors. "The shift of Californians who are now 15 who can vote in 2012 and older voters who will fall off the rolls -- we see four percent more people who support repealing Prop. 8 voting in 2012 than in 2010."

(Incidentally, that's the first time we've heard "falling off the rolls" used as a euphemism for death.).

Either way, the result in Maine definitely established one thing: There has not yet been a campaign strategy devised that can win a same-sex marriage initiative. Yet the fear-mongering, misleading, objectionable campaign employed against same-sex marriage in both California and Maine is a proven winner. 

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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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