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October 10, 2008

Calif. marriage ban pulls ahead
in polls

San Francisco--”We are going to lose this campaign if we don’t find the resources to compete,” said Geoff Kors, director of Equality California and spokesperson for the campaign opposing California’s marriage ban amendment.

Kors joined pollster Celinda Lake and campaign manager Steve Smith on a national conference call October 7 to discuss the latest poll results, showing that a lack of money is endangering marriage equality in the nation’s most populous state.

“It’s complacency,” said Kors. “People just think we’re going to win.”

A statewide poll conducted September 29 through October 2 showed the race too close to call, but with the trend toward the ban amendment’s passage. It is on the ballot as Proposition 8. A majority “yes” vote overturns the landmark California Supreme Court decision for full marriage in May. Nearly 12,000 same-sex couples have married since then.

The Lake poll shows 47% of voters would vote yes and 43% of voters would vote no. This represents a change from roughly two weeks ago when 44% of voters said they would vote yes and 45% said they would vote no.

These results track other polls done by CBS and Survey USA also showing the shift.

“The problem is that their side has raised more money than anticipated,” Smith said, referring to the success of the campaign against marriage equality.

Though the three were reluctant to say it outright, the other problem has been that LGBT and ally fundraising has fallen short.

The campaign to pass the ban, Protect, raised $25.4 million through Sept. 30, compared to the $15.8 million in donations raised by opponents.

More significant, ban supporters have $12.8 million on hand. The campaign for marriage equality has only $1.8 million.

“We are now being outspent in every television and radio market,” said Kors, which is causing what he calls a “structure problem.”

Kors said the strategy to win was to raise enough money to get on the airwaves first, which they did, and to never be outspent once the anti-marriage side got on the air.

According to the polls, the electorate is still moveable. There are about 20 percent of voters who are either undecided or are moving back and forth on this issue. Many of those are young voters who are particularly subject to the volume of the anti-marriage ads they are being subjected to.

Smith said some of the more conservative areas of the state are not getting pro-marriage ads.

According to Kors, approximately 90% of the donors to the pro-marriage campaign are California residents, but only about half the money is from them.

The anti-LGBT campaign is getting 43% of their money from members of the Mormon church, which account for only about 2% of California’s population. A Mormon website dedicated to raising money for the marriage ban reports as of October 4 that $8,356,892 is Mormon-identified, and that Mormons are the largest identifiable block of contributors.

“We ask that you do all you can to support the proposed constitutional amendment by donating of your means and time to assure that marriage in California is legally defined as being between a man and a woman. Our best efforts are required to preserve the sacred institution of marriage,” says a June 30 letter from the First Presidency of the church to all worldwide congregants.

In contrast, celebrity LGBT Californians, including many who have married, are not contributors.

Notably, Ellen DeGeneres, whose marriage to Portia DiRossi was widely celebrated, was absent as a contributor, as of October 7.

Other absent gay celebrities include Rosie O’Donnell, who was wed in San Francisco in 2004. Her marriage was one of thousands later nullified by the California Supreme Court.

Elton John and Melissa Etheridge, two of the best-known and wealthiest LGBT people in popular music, have also not donated, nor have directors Gus Van Sant, Joel Schumacher and Bryan Singer, or producers Greg Berlanti of Brothers and Sisters or Marc Cherry of Desperate Housewives.

“We need another $10 million at least,” said Kors, in order to confront the lies the anti-marriage campaign is telling.

The Democratic National Committee donated $25,000 to the “decline to sign” campaign attempting to keep the measure off the ballot, but has not contributed to defeating Prop. 8.

One of the largest individual donations in the campaign came from David Maltz of Cleveland, who donated $500,000 to defeat the amendment.

The No on Proposition 8 campaign is the largest mobilization of LGBT activists and allies in history.

“This election is not over. In fact, now that both campaigns are on the air, it has really just begun,” said Lake. However, “The advantage created by getting on the air first needs to be protected with a stronger paid-media presence so that target voters hear and see the ‘No’ message more often than they see or hear the ‘Yes’ message.”

The campaign to defeat California’s marriage ban amendment is on the web at





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