- October 8 - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force hailed the defeat of Proposition 54, a measure that would have stripped California from collecting racial data. The measure -- bad on its face -- would have disproportionately affected lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people of color because it would have made it impossible to track patterns of discrimination in housing, health, and education. Studies show that gay people already face high levels of discrimination in housing, and are less likely to seek routine medical care than most Americans.
"We are overjoyed that California residents have soundly rejected Proposition 54 and the divisive race-motivated politics behind it," said Dave Fleischer, Director of Organizing & Training for the Task Force. "We are proud to have worked with allies in the African American and Latino communities to turn out the vote to defeat the measure."
In the campaign against Prop 54, the Task Force recruited hundreds of volunteers to identify anti-Prop 54 voters and then turn those voters out yesterday through phone banking and precinct walking. The Task Force worked in coalition with volunteer leaders from AGENDA (Action for Grassroots Empowerment and Neighborhood Development Alternatives), and other community-based and immigrant rights organizations such as the Silverlake Hollywood Echo Park Metropolitan Alliance (SHEPMA) and the Coalition for Human Immigrant Rights Los Angeles (CHIRLA). In all, the effort succeeded in reaching more than 10,000 registered voters, face-to-face, with the "No on 54" message.
"The right wing is already working to repeal the state's recently-enacted domestic partner (AB 205) law through a ballot initiative as early as this spring," Fleischer added. To defeat this measure, we will need a broad-based coalition of allies in other minority communities."
The effort to repeal the "California Registered Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2003" was launched by Republican Senator William "Pete" Knight of Palmdale and Republican Representative Ray Haynes of Murrieta immediately after its passing. Knight spearheaded the anti-gay ballot initiative Proposition 22, a year 2000 measure which amended the California constitution to prohibit the recognition of same-sex marriage. Knight and Haynes will need to collect nearly 374,000 signatures to place a repeal on the ballot. The new law grants California domestic partners nearly all the benefits and responsibilities as Vermont's civil union law. While still far from full equality for same-sex couples, it is the strongest domestic partnership law in the nation.
"We are committed to working with our LGBT leaders in California, especially Equality California, to defeat this new, mean-spirited repeal effort," Fleischer said.
The Task Force has had remarkable success since it began focusing resources on helping state and local partners defeat anti-gay ballot measures two years ago. Until 2000, anti-gay forces had won three out of every four such measures they backed. With specialized skills and additional resources devoted to the fight over the last two years, however, the LGBT community has defeated 10 out of 13 anti-gay initiatives.