Thursday, August 13, 2009

Fight to Overturn Prop 8 is All Over the Place

(From The New York Times)
"SAN FRANCISCO — One of California’s leading gay rights groups, Equality California, said Wednesday that it would not seek to overturn the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage next year, even as another group advocating for same-sex marriage said 2010 was the right time to go back to the ballot.

Officials with Equality California had argued for a quick return to the polls to overturn Proposition 8, which California voters approved in November by 52 percent. But in a conference call Wednesday, the group’s leader made it clear that they now preferred a more cautious approach, with November 2012 as a target.

“What we found is that through our experience, both in talking to people over the past few months and our experience working on marriage equality over a number of years, is that the work is slow going but doable,” said Marc Solomon, the group’s marriage director. “It takes time and commitment and lots and lots of volunteers to undo untruths that our opponents have been telling.”

The group’s announcement came an hour after the Courage Campaign, a collection of “grass-roots and net-roots activists,” said results of an early fund-raising push had emboldened it to push ahead with plans to oppose Proposition 8 next year.

“We are not going to let the calendar dictate people’s rights,” said Rick Jacobs, the group’s founder, who added that it had raised more than $75,000 in the last 24 hours. “As of now, we are moving forward for 2010.”

Both groups are at the forefront of the debate over when to challenge the ban, and they played down the division over when to return to the polls. But it is apparent that strategic differences exist.

The ballot debate came as a federal judge presiding over a legal challenge to Proposition 8 ordered both sides Wednesday to resubmit briefs by Monday on how they wished to proceed.

The State Supreme Court upheld the ban in May, but the timing of the federal case has some advocates for same-sex marriage arguing that a failure there could damage their efforts to persuade voters to reject the proposition.

Such views have discouraged longtime gay activists, who have watched several states legalize same-sex marriage recently.

“The troops, such as they are, are more disunited than ever and battling each other to the next failure,” said Larry Kramer, the playwright and a founder of the group Act Up, which led the fight for AIDS research. “They cannot agree on anything now.”

Officials with Equality California and the Courage Campaign said that was untrue.

“We’re all in this for the same thing,” Mr. Jacobs said. “I don’t see why this should put us at cross-purposes.”

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