SAN FRANCISCO — Equality California on Tuesday, announced that opponents of the Fair, Accurate, Inclusive, and Respectful (FAIR) Education Act — also known as SB48 — have failed to collect the required number of signatures to place a referendum on the November 2012 ballot to overturn the law.
The landmark legislation, signed into law on July 14 by Gov. Jerry Brown, requires that the historical contributions of gay, lesbian and transgender Americans be included in history lessons and classroom textbooks.
Speaking with LGBTQ Nation on Tuesday, Equality California’s Director of Communications, Rebekah Orr, said that the group leading the efforts to overturn the FAIR Act — Stop SB48 — had sent out an e-mail at 12:45 a.m. PT Tuesday that essentially said that there were serious problems with the signature gathering petition process and that “it would take a miracle” to collect enough valid signatures in time to meet the state law’s mandated deadline.
According to Orr, the e-mail also acknowledged that there were irregularities with a substantial portion of the petitions already collected by organizers and that “the outlook wasn’t good.”
While “Stop SB48” could possibly collect the required signatures by Wednesday’s deadline, Orr expressed skepticism that enough of the signatures on the petitions would be valid given some of the tactics that have been employed in the past few weeks by referendum supporters who have allegedly distorted the facts and misrepresented the FAIR Acts’s true purpose.
The San Diego Gay and Lesbian News, in an article published last week, said that the paper had documented the “Stop SB48” campaign’s tactics that included lies, distortions and misinformation, and shared a YouTube video that showed a campaign volunteer in Oceanside, Calif., using the tragic rape and murder of North County teenager Chelsea King to falsely tie the “Stop SB48” campaign to stopping child molesters and murderers.
“Now it’s time to focus on implementing the FAIR Education Act and demonstrate to the public that our opponents’ lies are nothing more than smear tactics designed to censor the historical contributions of LGBT people, people with disabilities and people of color from social studies classes,” said Laura Valdez, Interim Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network and Co-Chair of the Interim Executive Committee of the coalition to protect the FAIR Education Act.
Orr told LGBTQ Nation that FAIR supporters across the state have built a broad coalition to protect the law and educate the public that spans people of faith, labor organizations, LGBTQ equality rights advocacy groups, and many others who care about equality.
“These organizations remain committed to strengthening the coalition and protecting this important law, she said.”
Another reason that the efforts appear as to have failed Orr said, was that the petition gathering was an all-volunteer effort with only “big-name” endorsements but not “big-name money.”
There were not any professional petition gathering businesses employed as “Stop SB48” backers weren’t able to raise the necessary funds, she said, and noted that even within the ranks of the moderate GOP voters in California, there is a sense of voter fatigue on social issues versus the economic issues.
“Public opinion is rapidly changing on these type of issues,” she said. “While our opponents continue to vilify us, moderates and others are beginning to see through the falsehoods and inaccuracy of their portrayal of the LGBT community.”
“Already, we are working with school administrators, teachers, students, parents, and community groups to ensure the fair and accurate portrayal of historically marginalized groups in schools, and we will continue to work to educate the public,” Orr added.
“The FAIR Education Act will simply ensure that California’s students learn an honest, accurate, and inclusive account of history, but opponents of equality have grossly distorted the intent and the effect of the FAIR Education act in their quest to secure signatures for this referendum. Today’s victory shows that their lies cannot stand up to our truth,” said Roland Palencia, Equality California Executive Director and Interim Executive Committee Co-Chair of the coalition to protect the FAIR Education Act.
“But we know that opponents of equality won’t stop here. We remain vigilant, not only to make sure that people know the facts about the FAIR Education Act, but also to continue preparing for new attacks on the FAIR Education Act at the ballot box, in the legislature and in courts of law,” Palencia said.
Equality California is the state’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender rights advocacy organization.