SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–The political battle over Proposition 8 in California was the costliest race over a cultural issue in American history, but there may be a rematch in 2010 if opponents have their way.
The American Civil Liberties Union, the city of San Francisco and a host of liberal and homosexual activist groups remain hopeful that the California Supreme Court will overturn Prop 8 — a constitutional amendment that defines marriage between one man and one woman — but if they fail, they have a Plan B.
The backup plan — already in the very early stages — is to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot to reverse Prop 8’s effect. With Hollywood backing it, such a signature drive no doubt will be well-funded.
Supporters of Prop 8 needed 690,000 signatures to qualify the proposal for the ballot and turned in approximately 1.1 million. It passed, 52-48 percent.
Homosexual activists groups such as Equality California are gearing up for what would be another costly political battle.
“We can — and we will — overturn Prop 8 to win back marriage equality,” Equality California says in a statement on its website. “It will take hard work, extensive engagement of all communities, outreach to people who voted yes, research to determine the best upcoming election and exact ballot language and significant funding.”
The statement ends by urging each reader to volunteer and gather 20 signatures once petitions are circulated.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom echoed that sentiment, saying in The Los Angeles Times, “The question is not if this will be back on the ballot. The question is when this will be back on the ballot.”
Getting a constitutional amendment on the ballot in California is far less difficult than in other states, although it’s not easy. It requires gathering signatures equal to 8 percent of all the votes cast in the most recent gubernatorial election (which was 690,000 during the recent election cycle). The next gubernatorial election is in 2010. Unlike some states, California law allows paid canvassers — people who are paid to gather signatures — making it easier for a well-funded campaign to qualify a proposal.
If supporters succeed in placing an amendment on the ballot legalizing “gay marriage,” it could put a President Obama in an uncomfortable position. Obama says he opposes “gay marriage,” although he also opposed Prop 8, calling it “divisive and discriminatory.” If Californians voted to overturn Prop 8, Obama either would have to 1) remain neutral, 2) oppose it and anger homosexuals within his base or 3) support it and, by extension, support “gay marriage” — which would be an historic step. Exit polls showed that nationally, 70 percent of homosexuals voted for him.
Already, homosexual leaders are discussing whether Obama will reverse course and publicly state his support for “gay marriage” during his administration. He and the leading homosexual groups agree on every other major issue, including repealing the Defense of Marriage Act. Overturning DOMA could force every state to recognize “gay marriages” from states such as Massachusetts. Obama says he supports civil unions, which grant same-sex couples all the legal benefits of marriage.
In a live blog with other homosexual leaders Nov. 20, Kate Kendall, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said she believes Obama will come out for “gay marriage” during his time in the White House, “especially if we can persuade other federal elected officials to stand up for marriage equality — which should have happened long ago and is long overdue.” Nadine Smith, executive director for Equality Florida, agreed, saying, “I think he knows [his position] isn’t logical or justifiable.”
VT. GOV. AGAINST ‘GAY MARRIAGE’ BILL — Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas, a Republican, says he would oppose a “gay marriage” bill if it is introduced in the legislature, the Associated Press reported Nov. 20. Douglas’ statement puts in jeopardy a bill that supporters had hoped could become law in the near future. Vermont has a civil unions law that grants same-sex couples all the legal benefits of marriage.
“I think the current civil union law is sufficient,” Douglas said. “It accords equality of rights to Vermonters in terms of their relationships and I think we should leave the law as it is.”
Conservatives have long warned that civil unions are simply a stepping stone to “gay marriage” — a belief underscored not only by events in Vermont but in Connecticut, which passed a civil unions law, only to see the state Supreme Court legalize “gay marriage.”
Vermont State Sen. John Campbell says he will introduce a bill to legalize “gay marriage.”
Said Douglas, “I never indicate what I might do when a bill gets to my desk, but I’ve been quite clear that I don’t support the legislation.”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press.