UPDATE 2: Marc Solomon, Marriage Director for EQCA, just posted a response to the Prepare to Prevail statement and covers how EQCA intends to act.
UPDATE: Prepare to Prevail now has a website at PreparetoPrevail.com.
Also, the Latino Equality Alliance was listed as an endorser on Love, Honor, Cherish's statement in support for 2010, but has organizations within its alliance that are listed on the opposing Prepare to Prevail statement, such as HONOR PAC. A member of HONOR PAC issued a statement, a part of which says:
We realize that LEA, like Courage Campaign and others have "endorsed" the 2010 proposal initiated by Love Honor Cherish last May -- before the Supreme Court decision and even before the LGBT poll for equality results were known. Later organizations that were not satisfied with the results of the LGBT poll - polled each other and got a predictable answer.But again, my objection is how the statement was released. They didn't go to opposing groups personally first to discuss the eight points - they just blasted it out to the world. A discussion could've have been had, but now everyone's focused on trying not to splinter in different directions instead of discussing the points in the statement.
HONOR PAC strongly objected on a premature endorsement by LEA and others for a 2010 ballot based on our on the ground experience with the NO on 8 campaign office in East LA. Challenged to consider and articulate why we object and to submit an alternate proposal -- we reviewed poll results (especially those for our Latino community), met with other POC and non-POC orgs and our meetings resulted in the statement we released yesterday via our database, websites and the media.
As for the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) -- it is not a formal organization and key members and organizations have been outspoken about keeping it that way. The general consensus has been that it be a conduit for communication and coordination among Latino and other organizations. HONOR PAC appreciates this relationship. However, LEA does not speak for HONOR PAC or the other formal organizations that have their own boards and decision making processes. All are independent allies and individuals supportive of the LGBT movement.
Within the last twenty four hours, the brewing debate over when California's LGBT population and allies should return to the ballot to overturn Prop 8 has begun to boil over. With a Leadership Summit scheduled for July 25 to discuss next steps for marriage equality in the state, everyone is vying to get the first word in.
It started Monday with "Prepare to Prevail," a statement released from a group of LGBT organizations, many of which are POC groups, that had many connections to the No on 8 campaign. It contained eight prerequisites or concerns that must be met before going to the ballot, heavily implying that 2010 would not be enough time.
- Winning requires full LGBT community support and a broad coalition of allies.
- We need to build strong majority support before placing the issue before voters.
- Campaign donors will be constrained given the current unprecedented economic downturn.
- Educational, voter-ID (not electoral) campaigns with specific goals should begin immediately
- We need time to build a coordinated data infrastructure that can support a winning campaign.
- Time and greater effort is needed to build trust and relationships in communities that represent the full diversity of California voters, including limited-English-speaking voters and voters of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
- Labor, religious allies and communities of color are indispensable to winning. More time is needed to convert general support into full organizational backing to secure increased grassroots engagement, resources, and votes.
- More time means more “yes” votes for marriage equality.
The statement appears in sharp contradiction to what many organizations have stated - mainly, the community is ready to go back in 2010.
The Courage Campaign, the politically progressive group that rallied a devastated community post Prop 8 and took the lead from the major LGBT organizations in training and organizing local community organizers and activists, came out in strong support for 2010 after polling its members and finding that 82.5% wanted to return to the ballot that year. In a response to the Prevail statement released today, they state:
"The Courage Campaign is doing its part by helping to build an electoral road map to victory, as are several other organizations that are laying the groundwork necessary to win back marriage equality. It is our responsibility to our members, who overwhelmingly told us that they want to go to the ballot in 2010, and it is our responsibility to the marriage equality community."Equality California (EQCA), one of the leading organizations behind the No on 8 campaign and who had lost its foothold within the LGBT community, appeared to be in agreement with the Courage Campaign by attempting to keep up with the community and stating they were preparing for 2010. Shortly after Courage Campaign
"That's why the Courage Campaign announced support for a 2010 initiative in May. While we respect other organizations discussing and deliberating this very important question, we have been building the infrastructure to win marriage equality rights at the ballot box sooner, rather than later. Our members are ready to do the hard work needed to win."
"The Courage Campaign believes that by training community organizers and sharing resources like staff support and access to the voter file, we can win in 2010 -- not just in Los Angeles, or San Francisco, but in the heartland of California."
Marc Solomon, marriage director of EQCA ,who was brought in from Massachusetts to help the organization repair the damage in the community due to No on 8, told the Los Angeles Times, "We initially said we believe 2010 was the right time to go back to the ballot. We've also made it very clear we will only move forward if we have a clear road map to victory. . . . The last thing we want to do is go back to the ballot and lose."
But something smells bad here. Though many of the points in the "Prepare to Prevail" statement are extremely essential and must be discussed and met, the statement's timing and how it was released couldn't be more divisive and is being seen as attempt by the major LGBT organizations to wrestle back control of a movement moving beyond them.
Dabblepost states, "The timing is especially relevant given that the mainstream LGBT organizations have all but been left behind in the high profile federal challenge to Proposition 8 (one that many believe will lead to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage). The lawsuit was orchestrated by a small but wealthy group of individuals who managed to get two high profile lawyers to take up their cause - with the mainstream LGBT organizations seeking to undermine the suit at every turn because they 'felt it was too soon.' Sound familiar? Now the federal case is gaining steam and the mainstream LGBT organizations want on board. Of course, the original petitioners in the case are saying, 'Ummm... NOW you want in?! No thanks, we don't need you and your abundant caution and ineptitude.' Equality California likely sees the potential of the same scenario arising in the case of a ballot initiative: another organization launching a ballot campaign all on their own, and then gaining mainstream support."
Many of the groups listed on the statement work directly with many of the pro-2010 groups and some are part of OUT West Coalition, the largest LGBT grassroots coalition in California, which meets at least once a month to discuss concerns facing the community. (In an effort of full disclosure, Unite the Fight is part of the OUT West Coalition).
Though there had been rumblings that they didn't support 2010 due to timing and work that needed to be done, the Prevail statement was prepared in secret and instead of going to these groups to discuss the points, they sent it to the press blindsiding their colleagues. With the Leadership Summit just two weeks away, why couldn't they have just waited and presented these points in person?
One group in particular who is listed as a main supporter of the Prevail statement, the Jordan Rustin Coalition, an African American LGBT grassroots organization, recently went through a leadership upheaval which has caused a divide within it. In the move, the group quickly aligned itself with EQCA and not only worked together on the new educational PSAs, but are also in the process in creating a field office in a predominantly African American neighborhood in Los Angeles. Some have told Unite the Fight that they see the move as a quick fix to the problems the No on 8 organizations caused by neglecting the needs of the POC LGBT groups during the campaign.
Sources to Unite the Fight state that many in the Prepare to Prevail group felt that they wouldn't be heard if they didn't go to the press. However, some felt strong-armed into joining in on the statement, or in some cases, never agreed to have their names on it in the first place, and are now requesting that the statement be corrected without their organizations included on the list. When asked where the pressure behind the statement was coming from, they wouldn't state.
In other cases, some appear on the Prevail statement and on the support of 2010 statement (or different chapters of the same organizations appear on opposing statements) issued by Love, Honor, Cherish (LHC), an adamantly pro-2010 organization, that was sent out way before the Prevail statement. So something changed.
Yet some on the statement told Unite the Fight that if in fact the concerns on the statement are met, they will be for 2010. But what if they're not, and if we move forward - will they support it? Will they join in? The answer to that is not clear.
LHC wasted no time and yesterday prepared a detailed response to the Prevail statement. John Henning, of LHC, also spoke to Los Angeles Times.
"There is a majority of the community . . . that favors going forward in 2010," said John Henning, executive director of the pro-same-sex-marriage group Love Honor Cherish. "The fact that some favor waiting should mean only one thing: They can wait, if they need to wait, but we are going to go ahead."
As already stated, many of the points in the Prevail statement are extremely important and must be addressed. The upcoming Leadership Summit would have been an ideal forum in which to address these concerns.
However, the Prevail groups' fear of not wanting to be the bad guys by opposing 2010 in discussions, which drove them to declare their views through the press instead, has now caused them to be the target of those in support of 2010. A self-fulfilling fear it appears. They're now being viewed as holding back the community's momentum and eagerness to win back their rights. The essential and valid points being made in their statement are now in danger of not being discussed due to the fact that the community now faces the even harder task of mending the cracks in what was hopefully going to be a unified front.
QUESTIONS: Do you believe that we, the LGBT population in California, are prepared to make a decision on 2010 or 2012? Or do you think we need to spend more time in looking at all the different factors, including those mentioned in the Prepare to Prevail statement, and work on unifying our movement? If we are ready to decide, when do you think we should return to the ballot? Because in the end, it's your voice that matters.