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Group waiting on California gay marriage push

THURSDAY, AUG. 13, 2009

Advocates plan to challenge ban in 2012

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Bowing to the advice of political consultants and pollsters, officials from a major gay rights advocacy group announced Wednesday that they will wait until 2012 to return to California voters with an initiative to legalize same-sex marriage.

The leaders of Equality California, which calls itself the largest gay rights advocacy group in the state, said they won’t try to qualify a measure on the subject for the 2010 ballot despite demands from many gay and lesbian activists seeking quicker movement on the issue.

That decision, however, hasn’t stopped a liberal advocacy group, Courage Campaign, from collecting signatures for a 2010 ballot initiative on the subject. According to that group’s Web site, it has already raised about $136,000 to “invest in research, polling and focus groups to repeal Proposition 8,” the ballot initiative passed last year banning same-sex marriage.

Other gay rights groups are also working to put a same-sex marriage initiative on the 2010 ballot.

Geoff Kors, Equality California’s executive director, said in a conference call Wednesday that his group has “knocked on 500,000 doors” to survey voters statewide about the issue and determined that such an initiative would stand a better chance with more time. The group plans to spend the next three years launching outreach and education campaigns about the issue.

Additionally, running the initiative during a presidential election year would bring out more young voters, who polls show are more likely to vote for legalizing same-sex marriage, said Equality California Marriage Director Marc Solomon in the conference call.

Solomon said his and other groups would need to raise tens of millions of dollars to push through such a ballot measure, and donors haven’t so far shown much appetite for a 2010 campaign.

“Pretty monolithically, they’re not supportive of a return to the ballot with a $40 million to $60 million campaign,” Solomon said.

Proposition 8 advocacy group responded in a news release Wednesday that any measure legalizing same-sex marriage would fail regardless of which year it was put on the ballot:

“Whether in 2010, 2012, or beyond, will be ready to defend marriage and emerge victorious again.”

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