Backers of Gay Marriage Rethink California Push
Posted on July 27, 2009
Filed Under Uncategorized
LOS ANGELES — Discouraged by stubborn poll numbers and pessimistic political consultants, major financial backers of same-sex marriage are cautioning gay rights groups to delay a campaign to overturn California’s ban on such unions until at least 2012.
Earlier this year, many supporters of same-sex marriage seemed eager to mount a 2010 campaign to overturn Proposition 8, which was passed by California voters in November and defined marriage as “between a man and a woman.”
But the timing of another campaign has since been questioned by several of the movement’s big donors, including David Bohnett, a millionaire philanthropist and technology entrepreneur who gave more than $1 million to the unsuccessful campaign to defeat Proposition 8.
“In conversations with a number of my fellow major No on 8 donors,” Mr. Bohnett said in an e-mail message, “I find that they share my sentiment: namely, that we will step up to the plate — with resources and talent — when the time is right.”
“The only thing worse than losing in 2008,” he added, “would be to lose again in 2010.”
The issue of when to go back to the polls was also the central topic at a contentious “leadership summit” held Saturday at a church in San Bernardino, east of Los Angeles, where about 200 gay rights advocates gathered to discuss their next step. It was the second large meeting of gay leaders since late May when the California Supreme Court ruled against a legal challenge to Proposition 8, which passed with 52 percent of the vote.
Shortly after the court’s decision, officials at Equality California, one of the largest gay rights groups in California, issued an online plea for donations for a possible 2010 campaign, citing a need to capitalize on anger over the decision and on the seeming momentum from the recent legalization of same-sex marriage in several other states.
But that thinking has apparently evolved.
Marc Solomon, marriage director for Equality California, said he spent June and early July asking the opinions of nearly two dozen California political consultants and pollsters and had been surprised by the almost unanimous opinion that a 2010 race was a bad idea.
“I expected having watched the protests and the real pain that the L.G.B.T. community had experienced that there would be some real measurable remorse in the electorate,” Mr. Solomon said, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. “But if you look at the poll numbers since November, they really haven’t moved at all.”
A major factor in any California balloting, of course, is money; campaigns here are remarkably expensive, with a number of costly media markets. The Proposition 8 campaign, for example, cost more than $80 million, with opponents spending some $43 million.
Sarah Callahan, ch
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