A coalition of grassroots groups seeking to repeal Prop 8 in California next year filed an initiative with the state Attorney General Thursday morning. However, there is still no consensus on strategy or ballot language.
The proposed initiative submitted by Love Honor Cherish opens with strong language that protects "religious freedom" - exempting religious officials or institutions from have to perform same sex marriages.
The initiative then strikes the current definition of marriage as between a man and a woman and substitutes - "Marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, creed, ancestry, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion."
Love Honor Cherish (LHC) co-founder John Henning said that the group conferred with attorneys and pollsters "within and outside the LGBT movement" on the language - some of whom do not favor the 2010 strategy - before the initiative was submitted.
Executive director Geoff Kors confirmed that they helped with the language.
We understand the passion for going in 2010 and have worked with LHC on ballot language as we want the best possible language to be submitted. That said, we believe a 3-year campaign to win back marriage is the smartest strategy and we will continue our work at EQCA to change hearts and minds so we can achieve victory in 2012.
EQCA Marriage Director Marc Solomon concurred:
At Equality California, we are working our hardest to move Californians to support the freedom to marry. We respect those pushing for a 2010 ballot measure and passionately share their end goal. However, for the first time in our history, our side gets to choose when we return to the ballot, rather than having the date set by our opponents. We believe we will be much more ready-and much more likely to prevail-at the ballot in 2012, and we are working tirelessly towards that outcome with our coalition partners.
The Courage Campaign - which favors returning to the ballot in 2010 - is continuing to research the ballot language and did not sign onto the submission. Political consultant Steve Hildebrand told journalist Rex Wockner:
To reiterate, we believe that to wage a winning campaign, there needs to be a strong governing structure, an experienced senior campaign team, the best research to steer the strategy and a sense that the campaign will be funded. We are working on all of those fronts, but because we will not have them in place by the time LHC submits ballot language, we will not be joining them this week.
In a phone interview Thursday morning after confirming that Attorney General Jerry Brown had received the ballot initiative, Henning said that if the Courage Campaign comes up with "superior language," they would consider substituting that language. He said any conflicts "should be resolved long before any version has approval to gather signatures" - which he expects to be in mid-November.
Henning also said that he does not expect the Courage Campaign's research to show that 2010 is not a good idea - but if it did, "we would still go forward with the initiative we just submitted."