Last night Andrea Shorter the Director of Marriage and Coalition from EQCA (Equality California) joined approximately 25 locals at Fresno City College for a Town Hall meeting to discuss the practicality of putting a Same Sex Marriage Imitative on the 2012 ballot. She assured us that EQCA wouldn’t be making a demission regarding this issue until the fall. *(And yet….)
In an informal poll at the start of the evening, the group was pretty split regarding the question of returning to the ballot. However, by the question and answer portion of the event, most of the people who spoke up did so against the idea.
One participant I spoke with afterwards said he didn't have a full opinion one way or another at the start, but by the end he didn't see how it made any sense to go back to the ballot.
For those of you who missed the meeting: here are a few highlights.
First off we were given a quick update of the Prop 8 court case. As, I’m sure you know, Judge Walker overturned Prop 8. The case then goes to Appeals, and the question before the court currently, is who has the right/ability to defend Prop 8. Both our Attorney General, Kamala Harris and our Governor, Jerry Brown have declined to defend it. If no one is found who can legally defend the appeal to the CA Supreme Court, Judge Walker’s ruling will stand. If someone can be found to defend it, and they are vetted by the court, then the appeals process continues and some say it might go all the way to the US Supreme Court. We don’t expect to know one way or another until possibly the end of the year.
Next up we discussed polling. A lot of polling. The same poll was given to Californians in May 2009 and May 2011 and the numbers were stark in their comparison. I won’t give you the whole breakdown (unless you email me) but here are a few statistics worth noting: In 2009: 47% approval for same sex marriage, 48 % opposed, 5% unsure. In 2011 the numbers had moved to read 45% in favor, 45% opposed and 10% unsure.
Now, many people will applaud the increase of the “unsure/undecided” portion, but since that is more wild card than anything and it is usually better to count that as votes for your opposition and hopefully be pleasantly surprised, I’m not sure that these particular polling stats give us much to be happy about. The rest of the polling data that EQCA shared with us last night went pretty much the same way. There were areas were the support gained a few points, many cases where it simply hovered still, and a whole lot of increase in the “unsure/undecided” part.
Yes, it is nice to see the opposition moving into the “unsure” category… but there seems to be plenty of supporters moving that way as well. Democrats that were polled, for example, moved from 65% approval with 4% unsure in 2009 to 59% approval and 9% unsure in 2011.
You read that right.
The rest of evening was spent discussion the pros and cons (mostly cons) of the ballot imitative. People talked about how horrible it would be to lose again. People talked about how civil rights haven’t historically been granted via popular vote but by the court systems. People talked about the dangers of tapping into an already tapped out community in terms of finances and energy. People talked about how if the court case goes our way, the question become moot. People talked. Andrea, EQCA, listened.(She didn't take notes. I wondered at the time if it was because we were all saying the same things she had heard at the other Town Hall meetings. When asked, she did tell us that she was getting pretty much the same feedback everywhere, but I am not sure if that refers to the split feelings or the actual arguments against.)
There was also a lot of discussion about the mishandling of the 2008 campaign. EQCA acknowledges that and hopes to do better if/when there is a next time. However there was no real sense of a better plan for the next time. In fact, it all boils down to the fact the EQCA doesn't seem to have much of a plan at all.
Officially, that is what the Town Hall Meetings are for; to help EQCA figure out what the next step should be. If they listen closely, I can’t imagine how they can possibly decide that going back to the ballot makes any sort of financial or morale sort of sense.
*But wait… THERE’s MORE! Despite ongoing Town Hall meetings … the EQCA website has the following to say on the matter:
Many believe we should wait until we are guaranteed a victory before proceeding. We do not agree. We believe it is essential that we select an election and build a campaign for that election.
We believe the 2012 election gives us the clearest path to victory
Equality California reached its position through extensive feedback from our members, donors, community partners and political experts.
Well, there you have it. Are the Town Hall meeting simple pandering to the community? To read more about EQCA and how they came to this decision, read for yourself.
The Town Hall meetings are still going on and the EQCA survey is still open, let your voice be heard.here