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Key Group to Push Repeal of Prop. 8 in 2012

by Carla Marinucci

In a decision that has sparked anger and frustration among gay rights groups, a San Francisco organization that led unsuccessful efforts last year to defeat the California ban on same-sex marriage said Wednesday it will wait until 2012 to ask voters to repeal Proposition 8.

A protester opposed to Proposition 8 waves a flag at a demonstration in Los Angeles in 2008. (Photograph: David McNew/Getty) Leaders at Equality California announced Wednesday that next year's ballot may be too soon to gather the huge political organization needed to "change hearts and minds" of state voters on the issue of 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. "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 scathing criticism from other progressive organizations and gay rights groups.

Yes Equality will defy Equality California's decision and move forward with other groups to get the matter on the ballot sooner, said Chaz Lowe, who heads the group. "Any way we slice it, we find the (gay) community wants to move forward in 2010," he said in a telephone interview.

The 700,000-member Courage Campaign, meanwhile, said it is "pushing ahead to file a ballot measure" in 2010, when state voters will decide their next governor, and its officials said today they have raised $135,998 to invest in research, polling and focus groups in an effort toward repealing the ban next year.

David Comfort, founder of the Equality Network in Los Angeles, said that by failing to listen to overwhelming sentiment in the gay community to move immediately on a challenge to Prop. 8, Equality California no longer deserves support because it has opted to wait until 2012 "to win back our right to marry and guarantee equal protection under the law."

With little more than a year until the November 2010 ballot - when Californians will decide their next governor - San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom this week warned that supporters of same-sex marriage will need "consensus and a strong foundation of support" to move forward by the mid-term ballot. "Without that, it's probably not the right time," he said.

Geoff Kors of Equality California acknowledged that groups that support a 2010 ballot measure could qualify as late as November and its supporters may have until April to collect enough signatures to get it on the ballot. If that happens, "We'd of course support that ... and try to see victory," he said. "Our goal is equality."

Ron Prentice, executive director of ProtectMarriage.com, which led the successful campaign for Prop. 8, said his group is "not resting on our victory from 2008 but working aggressively to educate the public and help the public understand the very vital role that marriage plays in our civil society."

Some gay leaders warned that groups opposing same-sex marriage will win when politics splits supporters of such unions.

"Nothing's changed since November," said San Jose lesbian activist Gloria Nieto. "The conversation is about changing hearts and minds.... and we can't even talk to each other."

 

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