Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Decline to Sign CA's 5, or 1,
Gay Marriage Prop(s)

(A paid signature gatherer at the Market Street Safeway, working on insurance, marijuana and Congressional restricting petitions, this afternoon.)

Let's talk about the confusion over how many potential ballot initiatives are now supposedly out there for voters to consider signing. The political blog for the SF Chronicle last night reported on the number of petitions approved for circulating, thus launching some of the confusion:

Want to repeal California's ban on gay marriage? You now have five chances to get an initiative on the ballot.

Pay attention, 'cause this could get confusing. No less than five initiatives have been cleared for takeoff by the Secretary of State's office. All five would repeal the current provision in California's Constitution that limits marriages to between a man and a woman [...]

That's a lot of initiatives to consider signing, but one of the organizers behind the signature gathering, Jeffrey Taylor of San Francisco, in a message posted to Towleroad, which also said there were five initiatives, said that figure is wrong:

The press isn't looking hard enough at the ballot language. All 5 versions were filed by the same proponents in order to have more time to choose which version was best, and the proponents have chosen to move forward on only ONE version. The other versions will NOT have signatures collected on them. You should expect the other versions to be withdrawn, but there is lag time between the California Secretary of State's office issuing of Title and Summary (the official go ahead for signatures) and acknowledging the withdrawal of other language.

That clarification irons some of the conflicting info, but it also raises questions about why any organization would file so many different versions of an initiative, and then expect the press and the public to pay careful attention to nuances in the petition process. Not the best way to launch a controversial measure.

In any event, the news release from the Secretary of State has this headline: Five Marriage Equality Initiatives Enter Circulation.

If the SoS has it wrong, then the backers of the initiative(s) should do everything in their power to get a corrective release from the SoS, or put out their own factual statement tidying up this numerical confusion.

So far, the primary group behind this misguided effort, Love Honor Cherish down in Los Angeles, has not seen the need to correct the misinformation of the SoS, Chronicle, Towleroad and any other blog or news source reporting the five number. If LHC can't be bothered to issue a release admitting the confusion exists and working to undo it, I don't think they'll be very useful waging an actual statewide campaign.

Whether it's one or five potential initiatives, I encourage everyone to decline to sign the petitions. The California gay community is so splintered and disorganized, we wouldn't win even in 2014. We don't need another wasteful gay marriage measure put before the voters, especially when it is launched so haphazardly and based on the same tired old losing equality rhetoric.

The site to visit for the petition is named SignForEquality.com, and the imagery is a replica of the dark blue signage from the No on 8 committee, and we all know what a failure the signage was for that group. I guess the SignForEquality and LHC people aren't interested in learning from the mistakes of last year, and avoiding them.

It may turn out to be quite easy to get a serious decline to sign going. I went out today to look at two key spots where signature gatherers always set up shop, and couldn't find anyone pushing petitions for the repeal effort. Someone should tell the 2010 repealers to either get serious, or go away and come back another day.

(Paid promoters at Castro and 18th Streets, pushing car-sharing today.)

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