Online Extra: Wedding Bell Blues: Love Honor Cherish fights same-sex marriage ban, welcomes field director
Backers of a proposed measure to repeal California’s Proposition 8 same-sex marriage ban this year will gather for a San Francisco fundraiser Sunday, January 22.
The Love Honor Cherish Foundation is the beneficiary of the Reason to Party event, which will be from 6 to 11 p.m. at Vessel, 85 Campton Place. Tickets start at $30.
The Los Angeles-based Love Honor Cherish has started gathering signatures using volunteers, and it has brought on a field director.
Tristan Blaine, 26, started in the position about two weeks ago. He is currently a volunteer.
Like many Californians, Blaine wasn’t involved in the No on Prop 8 campaign in 2008. In a Monday, January 9 interview, he said he didn’t contribute money or do any volunteer work to support the campaign, but he participated in marches after the state’s voters passed the measure.
Blaine said that besides having a limited income, “like many Californians at the time,” he thought “it was a given” that Prop 8 would fail.
“I thought we would obviously win, so I was one of those people that was just shocked into getting more active after we lost by a few percentage points,” Blaine said. The measure passed by a 52 percent to 48 percent margin in November 2008.
“I realize now this is the fight of our generation,” Blaine said. “We can’t be complacent anymore.”
Blaine is coordinating volunteer efforts throughout the state. He said more than 100 people are collecting signatures, but it’s “too early” to estimate how many people have signed petitions.
The secretary of state’s office announced December 16 that Love Honor Cherish could start collecting the 807,615 signatures of registered voters that it will need in order to place the measure on the November ballot. The organization has until May 14.
Love Honor Cherish plans to hire a paid signature gathering firm, but Blaine said they haven’t yet selected a company.
This will be Love Honor Cherish’s second attempt to undo Prop 8. Its efforts last year failed partly because the organization relied on volunteer signature gatherers. Having paid signature gatherers is seen as key to getting enough – 1 million signatures would probably be needed – to qualify the initiative.
Paid signature gatherers will be only part of the cost of trying to undo Prop 8.
Campaigns on both sides of the marriage ban raised more than $40 million apiece three years ago. Eric Harrison, Love Honor Cherish’s interim executive director, has said that he doesn’t agree that trying to undo the measure would be as expensive.
Harrison said they would need $1 million by mid-February for the effort. In an interview Friday, December 30, he said, “We have pledges of over six figures to date,” but he couldn’t provide the exact number. Blaine said that he isn’t directly involved in fundraising.
Love Honor Cherish’s proposal is to repeal Prop 8 and specify that “marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion.”
The measure also states that no one would be required “to perform a marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs.”
Blaine expressed confidence that marriage equality backers could successfully repeal the Prop 8 ban this year.
“We barely lost in 2008, and we’ve come so far,” Blaine said. ” … All we need to do is move the needle a few percentage points, and I believe we’re there. All the polls say we are there, and it will continue to go our way over the next 11 months.”
As an example, he pointed to a recently released survey that indicates strong support among the state’s decline-to-state voters.
That poll, performed by Tulchin Research for the California League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, showed that 60 percent of decline-to-state voters support allowing same-sex couples to marry legally, with 44 percent strongly in favor. Opponents accounted for 30 percent of those polled. Nine percent were undecided.
According to Tulchin, decline-to-state voters comprise 20 percent of the state’s electorate.
The poll, conducted October 27 through November 2, 2011 among 600 likely decline-to-state California voters, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percentage points.
Though he wasn’t involved in fighting Prop 8 before it passed, Blaine does have some experience related to politics.
Blaine has previously worked with the national LGBT lobbying group Human Rights Campaign as a volunteer outreach coordinator. He received his law degree from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York City, where he served as the political chair and general chair of OutLaw, the LGBT law student group.
He said he would begin receiving a salary at Love Honor Cherish “as soon as we get enough funding,” but it’s “hard to say” when that would be, and he couldn’t say how much he’d be paid. He’s currently living off savings, and his parents “are helping me out a little bit,” he said.
NOH8 campaign founders Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley, as well as Love Honor Cherish representatives are expected to be among those at the January 22 fundraiser. Visit http://confessionsf.eventbrite.com for more information.