BY Christopher Lisotta
September 15 2009 12:30 PM ET
Another possibility to end the debate is the federal
lawsuit sponsored by Griffin’s group challenging Proposition 8,
which is set for a January trial date in San Francisco.
rights should not be decided which side has the best campaign or the
most money or the best consultants, and this comes from someone who
makes his living off ballot measures,” Griffin says. “If a ballot
measure goes forward in 2010 and if our side had $40 million to $60 million and
a campaign, we may win by a point or two. I’m all for
winning full and complete equality any way we can, but I want to win it
and know we have it forever.”
If the suit is successful, Griffin
argues, it would strike down Proposition 8 and render moot any further
ballot box challenges to civil marriage in California.
“Winning a case
like this is a route to winning a victory once and for all,” he says.
Jennifer C. Pizer, senior counsel and marriage project director for
LGBT rights group Lambda Legal, notes that Griffin’s group’s suit “could
confirm as a matter of federal law that California does not have
adequate reasons to abridge gay and lesbian couples’ right to marry.
That would mean the right could not be eliminated by another state
Initially opposed to the suit on grounds that the
timing wasn’t right, Lambda Legal has made an about-face and joined
other groups in supporting the challenge now that it is moving forward.
The impact of the case on California is uncertain, Pizer says. “Of
course, we don’t know how narrowly or broadly the various courts will
rule in the case, and which way, so it’s impossible to know what the
future implications are,” she says.
For Pizer, the answer still
comes back to the grinding, day-to-day struggle to change hearts and
“The answer to antigay ballot measures on all subjects is the
same,” she explains. “A lot more community education work, especially
in communities where LGBT people have been less visible, and
cross-community organizing. The demographic and social trends are
strongly in our favor, and I am far less concerned than some people that
California will see repeated seesawing of conflicting pro-equality and
antigay initiatives. In other states the common pattern has been that
antigay groups abandon proposals when they see the public has come to
recognize the particular proposal as aimed at a fake ‘problem’ and
hurtful. We have every reason to be confident that once we pass the
threshold of majority support for marriage equality, the antigay
funding sources won't waste their money refighting what will have
become a losing battle for them.”
Griffin says he “absolutely”
supports any ballot measure that brings about equal marriage rights
but fears a decisive electoral victory is still far off. According to
Griffin, a narrow victory of just a few points in favor of marriage
equality would only drive antimarriage forces to conclude it’s worth
it to mount another Prop. 8–like ballot initiative.
“A landside election
for LGBT [marriage] equality would be a major, major achievement,” he
says. “Having said that, there’s no evidence for that in the next two
or three years ... in this state or any other.”