“All of us are against this law”
By Alex Distefano
When voters approved the decidedly anti-gay Proposition 8 in November 2008, conservative, religious and anti-gay types likely saw it as a victory.
But the battle is not over yet. Far from it.
Members of LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) communities across the state are rallying against the initiative—which legally defines marriage as only being between a man and a woman—to defeat it in the courts or at the ballot box.
One of the organizations leading a charge against Prop. 8 is Equality California, which since 1998 has helped to give a political voice and push for equal rights for all.
Currently, Equality California is in the middle of a statewide tour of town hall meetings to address how best to implement a defeat of the proposition. Meetings in Palm Springs and Redlands took place this week.
The meetings will focus on whether or not to launch a ballot measure in 2012 to repeal Prop. 8, which would clear the way for anyone in California to marry whoever they wish, regardless of sexual orientation.
Last August, a federal judge ruled Prop. 8 as unconstitutional. That decision was appealed by proposition supporters. Currently, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has not heard the case surrounding Prop. 8, but the California Supreme Court said it would consider hearing oral arguments from both sides in early September. A decision on the case is not expected until the end of this year or possibly later.
Many experts and analysts expect that, ultimately, the case will reach the Supreme Court.
Andrea Shorter, marriage and coalitions director for Equality California, tells the Weekly that the intent of the town hall meetings is to gather input from the public about how the best way to overturn Prop. 8.
“We’ve got 12 meetings set up and we’ve already done six of them so far,” Shorter says. “We just had a meeting last night in Redlands, and the night before in Palm Springs. The response so far has been great, very interesting to hear what people have to say. But, of course, by definition we are working with our many partners and supporters, and all of us are against this law.” Shorter says that additional meetings are scheduled to be held in East Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, Fresno, San Jose and Sacramento.
“Also, on June 9 we will have a free online town hall on our website.” Shorter adds.
These meetings are part of a grassroots campaign to educate people about a law that isn’t just about gay rights—it’s an issue about civil rights and equality, Shorter says.
The fact that the issue remains unresolved at the state court level and might end up before the Supreme Court only makes matters more complicated.
“These kinds of things take time and we all want to support the effort to overturn it, but it could take more time,” Shorter says. “We’re waiting another year or two, but it could take longer. Who knows if it goes to the Supreme Court? But we are confident we will eventually repeal it. There are a number of people interested in having it overturned.”
“This story won’t go away,” she continues. “We won’t stop supporting this cause, but we just have to wait and see how things play out. In the meantime, check out our website (www.eqca.org) for details on the upcoming meetings, including dates and locations, and other ways you can take action.”