Antigay groups in
California struggle with their agenda
One of two groups
competing to put a same-sex marriage ban before
California voters in 2006 has bowed out of the fight for
now, saying the timing and political climate are not
right to get such a measure passed.
Tuesday was the deadline for ProtectMarriage.com
to submit the signatures needed to qualify for the
June primary ballot one of two overlapping initiatives
that would outlaw same-sex marriage and restrict
Andrew Pugno, the group's legal adviser, said
the signature drive had fallen about 200,000 names
short of the requirement for 591,105 signatures. Pugno
said factors in the group's decision included the
difficulty of raising money in the aftermath of Hurricane
Katrina; the dimming prospect that the California
legislature will reconsider a bill legalizing same-sex
marriage next year; and a lawsuit on the issue that is
not expected to reach the California supreme court until
late 2006. "It boils down to a recognition that a
ballot fight isn't likely until 2008," Pugno said.
"This doesn't resolve the issue by any means; it
merely delays the resolution."
VoteYesMarriage.com, the other group seeking to
have California join 18 states that have amended their
constitutions to ban same-sex marriage, has not
abandoned the hope of qualifying an initiative for next
November, said organizer Randy Thomasson. However, the
group has postponed launching its petition drive while
raising money to hire professional
signature-gatherers, he said. "Whether for 2006 or 2008,
VoteYesMarriage.com is devoted to giving the people the
chance to protect marriage from the clutches of the
bureaucracy," Thomasson said.
Last summer the California legislature became
the nation's first elected state body to pass a bill
legalizing same-sex marriage. Gov. Arnold
Schwarzenegger vetoed the law, but conservative activists
warned that without amending the state constitution,
it was only a matter of time before either lawmakers
or the courts sanctioned same-sex unions.
A rift among conservatives, however, led the two
groups to promote dueling marriage bans while sniping
publicly over which proposal was better. At the center
of the split was disagreement over how far each camp
should go in attempting to repeal the significant spousal
rights domestic partners are granted in California.