Equality California’s report and recommendation is here

Bay Area Reporter has their article up on this here.

As reported earlier, San Francisco-based Equality, California, the state’s largest gay civil rights group, will be announcing today if they plan on fighting Proposition 8 on the 2010 or 2012 ballot.

There’s been a lot of debate between the two years — more than can be easily linked to. Most recently, Mayor Gavin Newsom said “he is ‘not convinced’ such a movement can be successful next year,” given how divided several of the civil rights groups appear to be.

The announcement will come at 11 AM, during a conference call with the media. We’ll be on the call, and will keep you updated.

11 AM: Equality California folks scheduled to be on the call: Geoff Kors, Executive Director; Marc Solomon, Marriage Director; Andrea Shorter, Deputy Director of Marriage and Coalitions; Amy Mello, Field Director. We’re on hold, for now.

“We can’t afford to wait until we’re absolutely sure we’ll win.”11:03 AM: Kors recaps EQCA’s “100 days” of preparation, analysis, and work to decide what year to pursue. In that time, they’ve “knocked on over 500,000 doors, had 500,000 conversations.” They’ve added a lot of donors and volunteers, he goes into great detail on all they’ve done, presumably to make it clear that the decision, whatever it is, was not made on the fly.

Note from a reader: it’s a big deal that they’re opening offices in the “challenging” areas that’s something the prop 8 campaign failed to do, this sounds like a steve jobs keynote

11:06 AM: Solomon takes the floor, outlining possible methods of attack. Basically, coming back every two years until they win, going at 2010, going at 2012, or just waiting until they are sure they can win. After reflection, they have chosen to wait until November 2012.

Note from a reader: How will this impact courage campaign’s attempt to raise funds this week for 2010?

Why? Change in voter rolls means more young (and presumably more progressive voters), they feel they will be able to get more donors for that year.

Comment from a reader: unless courage campaign can raise a fuckton of money in the next day, i think EQCA’s announcement will tip the balance of public opinion for 2012.

60% of voters under 30 are pro marriage equalityComment from a reader: he just mentioned “a three-year education campaign” — THAT IS KEY. they need to show that they are getting to work TODAY on the next steps.

Now they’re taking questions.

CBS news asks how important age really is for voters — are younger voters really more liberal? EQCA says yes, 60% of voters under 30 are pro marriage equality, cites many more stats than we can reliably type, but all in support of stance.

What about litigation? Why not just use that? Sure, if civil rights groups win the current cases against Prop 8, that’s great. But they don’t wait to wait to see how that works out, they want to start fight now.

What have the field conversations (knocking on doors) been like? Asking people why they voted “yes” on prop 8, trying to get “beneath the surface.” They say 20-25% yes voters “seem to be showing some movement.”

20-25% of “yes” on 8 voters canvassed by EQCA showing “some movement”WSJ asks if Courage Campaign’s recent announcement that they have raised 100K for 2010 fight will impel EQCA to ask them not to move forward? “People are free to move forward, it’s a democracy” says Solomon “if something qualifies, we will support it” he says, but argues that 2012 seems to be the most strategic decision from a campaign standpoint.

Frontiers LA asks for clarification on the 2010 “if something qualifies, we will support it” statement. Would you encourage donors to contribute? Donors want to see a campaign plan to victory. If this is a path to victory we will support it. EQCA also notes (sorry I’m not giving you names, none of them are IDing themselves before they speak!) that they still feel Courage Campaign is a long way from the 1.1 million signatures required for 2010.

ABC7 asks how litigation move to US Supreme Court might impact the campaign “it would be great, but we’re not counting on it.” EQCA also says that education work is still important — we want support across the state, so communication is necessary anyway.

If a measure makes the 2010 ballot, “we will support it”BAR asks, given other studies that support 2010 move, “what changed” to make them decide on 2012? They’d love 2010 too, if they thought they could win! An extensive Binder poll did not suggest enough support by 2010, and “countless” conversations with community convinced them otherwise. Admits that the entire community is not behind one date, but they feel the community deserves “the best chance” for success. One other factor was the communities of color, given CA’s ethnic makeup. Feedback from LGBT communities of color feel they needed to do some “heavy lifting” to prepare for a win, and strongly advocated for 2012, given the number of minds they feel they need to change in, for example, the African American community.

This is “a blow” to the community to wait, says a caller Volunteers are telling EQCA that they are surprised at how much time grassroots education will take to get results. “A lot of people are also going to be appreciative that we want to be strategic, others will be frustrated.” If there is another loss (in 2010), it’ll be a drain on resources and a bigger blow to the community. If they lose in 2010, it can kill a 2012 win.

If there is another loss (in 2010), it’ll be “a drain on resources and a bigger blow to the community.”And then the moderator disappears! Chaos on the call!

Note from a reader: one reason that 2012 is good for organizations is because it gives them a guaranteed 3 years of urgent fundraising. i’m sure that EQCA isn’t just making this recommendation because it means more job security for them. but it’s worth pointing out that they have some vested financial interest.

And we’re back!

There are a lot of new organizations who will be pushing for 2010. “How can you just sit back and watch them fail?” If we moved all our resources away from the work we’re doing now and put it toward gathering signatures, we will fail! If something qualifies, we want it to succeed.

If they try to collect signatures and fall short, that’s a PR disaster. If they fail it’s your fault for not supporting them It’s easy to collect signatures, it’s hard to win a campaign. It’s a $40-60 million venture, it’s moving people who voted one way only two years ago. We’re not going to support an effort that’s going to fail.

Comment from a reader: a lot of people think “work towards 2012” means “do nothing until 2011.” why don’t these people understand that eqca is working right now, not sitting back.

The poor Central Valley! Now they’re talking about how hard it might be to change minds in CA’s Central Valley, which was largely supportive of Prop 8. EQCA says they feel that with enough time and enough conversation, they can change enough minds (not all, they emphasize) to win.

“if we can get a victory in Maine, it will really show the tide turning.”How hard is it to knock on doors and change minds? Will it stick? Or will they change back if the opposition’s campaign is good? 20-25% are being persuaded “in some way.” “We still have a lot of work to do” re canvassing, and are still putting together the “best next steps.”

So that “movable middle” (that is, voters who voted yes on 8 but might be persuaded otherwise) is still movable, maybe even back to their earlier stance against marriage equality? Yes

Advocate asks will the current fight to retain marriage equality in Maine have an impact on the campaign? Yes, EQCA will be focusing a lot of attention on this campaign until the November election “if we can get a victory in Maine, it will really show the tide turning.”

And that’s the call.

the author

Eve Batey is the editor and publisher of the San Francisco Appeal. She used to be the San Francisco Chronicle's Deputy Managing Editor for Online, and started at the Chronicle as their blogging and interactive editor. Before that, she was a co-founding writer and the lead editor of SFist. She's been in the city since 1997, presently living in the Outer Sunset with her husband, cat, and dog. You can reach Eve at

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