One of California’s largest gay rights advocacy groups announced this week it will wait until 2012 to push for an amendment to the state Constitution permitting same-sex marriage, but other organizations with the same agenda insisted they want to bring the issue back to voters in 2010.
Leaders of Equality California, which spearheaded the campaign against Proposition 8, said they planned to wait until the next presidential election, releasing a road map for repealing the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage.
“It takes time, commitment and lots and lots of volunteers to undo the untruths that our opponents have been telling,” said Mark Solomon of Equality California, in his blog entry. “If we do the work at the level we need, we can have the support we need by 2012.”
But the decision was met with criticism from other gay rights organizations, including the 700,000-member Courage Campaign, which signaled is “pushing ahead to file a ballot measure” in 2010, when California voters decide their next governor.
But some gay rights group fear that the split among organizations working to overturn Proposition 8 could weaken that community’s push to legalize same-sex marriage in California. According to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), which actively campaigned against Prop. 8, both 2010 and 2012 could be too soon.
“It’s a little bit frustrating that there is so much community energy devoted to this debate. What we should really be doing is focusing on changing people’s minds on this issue,” says Elizabeth Gill, a staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California.
Equality California says waiting until 2012 gives gay-rights groups more time to raise money, educate voters and change opinions on the issue, and the benefit of a presidential election is higher voter turnout.
“Younger, more supportive voters are much more likely to vote during the presidential election in 2012 than in a gubernatorial election in 2010, which will be comprised of more older, unsupportive voters. And the extra three years will add young people who are now 15, 16 and 17 to the voter rolls. All together, analysis demonstrates that we go in with 4% more support in 2012 than 2010 on these factors alone,” said Equality California.
But the Courage Campaign says too much attention has been placed on the political consequences of running an election in 2010 or 2012.
“The bottom line is that we must begin now to convince the people of California that civil marriage rights should be made available to all people, period. None of us should have to wait one more day to achieve equality at any level,” said Rick Jacobs, Courage Campaign’s Chair.