Karen Ocamb

Former EqCa Staffer: From Grasstops to Grassroots

Filed By Karen Ocamb | November 29, 2011 9:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: California, EqCa, Equality California, Eric Harrison, grassroots organizing, Love Honor Cherish, marriage equality, Prop. 8

Eric Harrison, the former statewide development director for Equality California, has ERIC-HARRISON-238x300.jpgjoined Love Honor Cherish as the marriage equality grassroots organization's Interim Executive Director, LHC announced Monday morning.

Harrison was hired as LHC's first paid employee at a salary akin to what he was paid at EQCA, LHC Board Chair Tom Watson told Frontiers. His task is to build the organization and focus on restoring marriage equality.

Eric Harrison (Photo from Equality California)

Disappointed that EQCA decided not to push for a ballot initiative to repeal Prop 8 in 2012 as many had expected, LHC held a community meeting on Oct. 30, where, after two hours of passionate debate about the viability of an initiative campaign and the apparent apathy of the LGBT community, LHC members decided to submit ballot language and start the process of organizing and raising money for a paid signature-gathering campaign.

The language for the initiative submitted to the Attorney General's office is the same lawyer-vetted language as that submitted for a failed initiative in 2010. The proposed initiative opens with protections for "religious freedom" - exempting religious officials or institutions from having to perform same-sex marriages. It 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."

Watson said LHC expects to receive a title and summary for the proposed ballot initiative on Dec. 15.

"We are expecting Eric to evaluate and help us assess the landscape and decide whether we should seek repeal of Prop 8 at this time," Watson said, adding that the group is "obviously" preparing to go forward.

Watson noted that the California LGBT community hasn't "moved beyond the post-Prop 8 trauma and in some ways, that is what we're bringing Eric in and what he's designed to do. A positive outcome in the federal Prop 8 court case is not a certainty and is expected to take a long time. So if we want marriage equality in the next couple of years, we need to take action."

"I'm thrilled to join Love Honor Cherish at this critical moment in California history," Harrison said in the press release. "With gay and lesbian Californians still denied the right to marry more than three years since Prop 8 passed, I'm looking forward to continuing to work to restore marriage equality, work to which I have a deep personal commitment."

Meanwhile, there is a palpable void in LGBT leadership as Equality California undergoes an organizational re-assessment. It is not clear how or if LHC's Harrison will fill the leadership vacuum since Roland Palencia resigned as executive director of EQCA.

(Crossposted at LGBT POV)

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