All posts by Julia Rosen

Point and laugh at Texas

For years Texas has been taunting California with claims that if we ran our state like they do theirs, we wouldn’t be in as bad shape. In a macabre kind of way, this is pretty funny.  LA Times:

But the latest budget projections out of Texas have sharply changed the discussion: The Lone Star State is facing a budget gap of about $27 billion, putting it in the same league as California among states facing financial meltdowns. The gap amounts to roughly one-third of the state’s budget.

In a place where government is already lean, there aren’t many areas to make up that kind of cash. The budget blueprint Texas’ Legislature is mulling would mean layoffs for tens of thousands of teachers, closure of community colleges, and a severe reduction in state services for the poor and those with mental health problems.

Texas has a two-year budget cycle, which allowed it to camouflage its red ink last year, thanks in large part to billions of dollars in federal stimulus money. Now, however, “someone just turned the lights on in the bar, and the sexiest state doesn’t look so pretty anymore,” said California Treasurer Bill Lockyer, with evident satisfaction.

It would be funnier if the end result of this situation wasn’t likely to be a lot of pain and hardship for those who can least take cuts to an already paper thin safety net.

The dire fiscal situation will likely lead them to do what California has done and cut deeply into their education system, cutting their nose off to spite their face. Unlike California, they are not starting out with an excellent higher education system. As the Times notes, they were already having a hard time luring businesses to the state due to their education system.

The state’s dogged determination to not tinker with its tax system or lean on business in other ways is certain to win points with some executives. But some Texans question whether business leaders will tolerate the resulting deterioration of public infrastructure, particularly in the education system.

State Rep. Dan Branch, a Republican from the Dallas area, says his efforts to bolster the state’s university system are colliding against a public perception that “governments are wildly bloated and massively in debt. When we have that perception out there, we have to manage it.”

Branch went on to note that outsiders might question if Texas’ commitment to education was ever a “serious effort.” It wasn’t if they cut it to the bone, but what choice will they really have?

Just like here in California, Republicans will stop any efforts to raise revenues.  Their legislators are even resisting calls to dip into their $9B emergency reserve, citing gloomy fiscal forecasts.  They are going to look damn silly if they don’t tap into it and two years later the economy has improved. Of course, then they would avoid dipping into it to try and play catchup with education/infrastructure funding. If they don’t use it now, when will they?

This is actually an excellent organizing opportunity for progressives in Texas to point out the failures in the Republican’s fiscal philosophy. Good luck to them and to those who will suffer from what are sure to be draconian cuts.  Sigh.

Time to Repeal the Death Penalty

Today, Governor Brown announced that he would be taking 48,000 cell phones away from state employees, in order to reduce costs. Chron:

“In the face of a multi-billion dollar budget deficit, a cell phone may not seem like a big expense. But spending $20 million, and perhaps far more than that, on cell phones can’t be justified,” he said.

You know what would save even more money?  Repealing the death penalty.

That’s exactly what the Illinois legislature did today.  And what did they cite as the reason, beyond just innocent people being sentenced to death?  The cost of killing people for their crimes. ABC News:

“Illinois has spent over $100 million in 10 years and hasn’t put anyone to death,” said a sponsor of the Illinois bill, State Rep. Karen Yarbrough, a Democrat. “It’s time to put this barbaric practice to rest.”

As states struggle to cope with major budget shortfalls and even the prospect of bankruptcy, they’re confronting the fact that sentencing someone to death is extremely expensive.

In California, for example, a 2008 report showed that the $137 million annual cost of maintaining the criminal justice system would drop to just $11.5 million annually if the death sentence were abolished.

$125.5 million dollars is a whole heck of a lot more than $20 million from taking away cell phones from state workers and likely reducing their effectiveness.

What I want to know is how many kids will go without health care because the state wants to keep killing people?

Talk about fiscal irresponsibility…

Net Neutrality: Protest at Google on Friday

California’s own Google and Verizon released a new plan for how the Internet should operate, if they got to rule the world.  We’d keep Net Neutrality for the wired Internet, at least for consumers not corporations, but they could set up fast lanes and slow lanes for the wireless Internet.  Wireless is of course the future of the Internet, but then again that is exactly the point.  

Eliminating Net Neutrality could destroy independent blogs like Calitics that can’t afford to pay for our readers to reach us on faster connections.

The media has trashed their evil deal and over 300,000 people have signed an open letter demanding Google drop this proposal.

It’s a giant corporate power-grab and Google who claims to “do no evil” is doing exactly that with this evil plan. That’s why MoveOn, the PCCC (where I work), CREDO Action, Color of Change and Free Press are holding a rally at noon tomorrow in front of Google headquarters. The event is at the corner of Amphitheatre Parkway and Charleston Road in Mountain View. Click here to RSVP.

For people in the San Francisco area, there will be a bus leaving from the San Francisco Opera House at 301 Van Ness at 11 a.m. You have to RSVP to get on the bus, as seats are limited.

This deal can be stopped, but only if President Obama and FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski understand just how angry we are at the prospect of our rights being trampled online by Google and other corporate giants. So, please join us, or if you don’t live in the Bay Area, pass along the info to your friends.

And because Sam Seder rocks, here is his latest episode of “That’s Bullshit” on Net Neutrality, with Sam playing “the Verizon Guy”.

FPPC contemplating further regulating the Internet

This morning I had the opportunity to speak in front of the FPPC subcommittee on the Political Reform Act and Internet political activity as they contemplate potentially further regulating disclosure and reporting requirements for the Internet.  Also appearing on the “political consultants” panel with me were Steve Maviglio, and Bryan Merica from ID Media and Fox & Hounds Daily.  The goo-goo groups followed us, Kim Alexander, California Voter Foundation, Derek Cressman, Common Cause, Tiffany Mok, ACLU and Barbara O’Connor, Sacramento State University.

Ironically, the Internet subcommittee hearing was not broadcast on the web, though you could listen to it on a 1-800 number.  And of course there was no wifi in the room.

The FPPC subcommittee members are concerned about voters not knowing who is paying for both advertising and content on the web.  At the same time, they were pretty clear that they did not want to stifle political communication and see the Internet as a great for Democracy.

Much of the discussion focused on disclosure of the committees/candidates responsible for advertising and email communication.  Just about everyone agreed that disclosure was conceptually a good thing, but I and others made the point that a one size fits all policy will not work.  For example, one could have a committee name so long that it would take up the whole character limit on a Google search ad.  Or setting a rule that the disclosure language must take up 5% of the space on a image ad like Florida recently did would make it illegible at places like Calitics.  Our standard ads here are 150×200 pixels. Nobody could read text that took up 5% of that space.

It does make sense on the other hand to require disclosure of the candidate/committee on the landing page (the page where people are redirected to upon clicking the link).  There will be plenty of room to put the name on those pages.  Full credit to Bob Brigham for the idea, but one could link the FPPC number right to the Secretary of State page for that entity, which discloses the contributors and expenditures data.

There was also some discussion about the difficulty in regulating disclosure on sites like Facebook/Twitter.  They are constantly changing their design and interface.  It might be possible now to post the committee name now on the front page of a Fan page, but we may not have that functionality a year from now.  The basic point is that the Internet and these sites in particular are evolving at such a fast rate that it may be impossible to set up detailed requirements that are not quickly outdated.

A great deal of time was spent on sockpuppets and paid shills who are not disclosing that they are being hired to blog by a campaign.  The subcommittee members seemed inclined to require that bloggers disclose if they are being paid to blog.  Even I did not argue too strongly against that.  While we are pretty good at self-policing, it is not a perfect system.  All of us editors here at Calitics voluntarily disclose who we are being paid by if it is relevant to the posting.  Steve Maviglio in particular welcomed this idea.  Derek Cressman suggested that one alternative might be simply more detailed reporting to the state about what individuals are being hired to do.

The FPPC staff recommended that independent bloggers be treated just like journalists.  The commissioners were a bit hesitant about doing so, and suggested perhaps creating a separate category.  But I and others argued that the lines are so blurred these days between who is a blogger and journalist that it did not make sense.  Given the decimation of the Sacramento press corps, it is more important than ever that we encourage journalism and blogging, rather than pass further regulation.  

I also gave them the example from the other week of a traditional media outlet getting Rep. Jerry McNerney’s position on the health care reform bill incorrect.  It was blogger Dave Dayen who was the one who picked up the phone, called the office and got the correct information published.  Now was he a journalist who was blogging his work, or was he a blogger acting like a journalist?  How does one draw the line?

No specifics were discussed with regards to independent bloggers, but don’t be surprised to see them pick this up again at a future date.  Speaking of dates, next week they will be holding a similar hearing in Los Angeles with FEC commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub on the schedule.  She will be talking about how the FEC has been tackling these same issues.

The commissioners were looking for advice on what we as practitioners were looking for from them: regulation or advisory letters.  Given the speed of innovation, it certainly makes more sense for guidance than regulation with fines as punishment.  The commission doesn’t exactly move at warp speed, so don’t expect to see anything out of them for some time.  All in all it was a very good open discussion and while I believe we further complexified the situation for them, it illuminated the issues they have to take in to consideration as they contemplate taking action.

Prop 8 supporters trying to delay trial and NOM thinks they’re going to lose

The federal trial, Perry v. Schwarzenegger is supposed to start on Monday and Judge Walker has ruled to allow delayed YouTube posting of video. But earlier today the defendants (Prop 8 supporters) filed an emergency petition with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking them to stop the trial and overturn Walkers’ ruling on YouTube. Merc:

In court papers, lawyers for the Prop. 8 campaign argue that Chief U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker did not have the legal authority to permit cameras in the trial, which is set to begin Monday in San Francisco. Prop 8 backers say that broadcasting the proceedings “is likely to negatively affect the fairness of the trial.”

The plaintiffs had until 3 PM today to respond.  This is all likely to move pretty quickly, given that the trial is supposed to start the next business day.

Meanwhile, NOM thinks they are going to lose the case.

Over the last few days they have been clearly communicating to their email list that Judge Walker is not friendly to them and now are blatantly saying they expect to lose the trial.

Brian Brown just sent out an email to NOM’s list.  Karen Occam has part of it up at LGBT POV. Brown writes:

We do not expect to win at the trial level, but with God’s help, at least five members of the current Supreme Court will have the courage to defend our Constitution from this grave attack.

Their major complaint is that Judge Walker has made this a full-blown trial, complete with witnesses and a broad set of issues under consideration.  It will be a full and complete vetting of the issues, motivations and law surrounding marriage and equality for all.

This is perhaps my favorite part of Brown’s massive missive:

That’s right, the Constitution drafted by our Founding Fathers contains a right to gay marriage–in their twisted view. This is judicial activism on steroids, and a flagrant disrespect for civility, common sense, and democracy.

Gay-marriage advocates believe they have a right to win. They think you and I don’t count. NOM will be filing an amicus brief in this litigation, and will work with Protect Marriage and the lawyers for Prop 8 in every way we are asked.

My Mr. Brown your real feelings about marriage equality supporters seems to have slipped out.  Usually you are so nice and polite, but now we are “twisted”?  Would that be your bigoted side, showing about how you really feel about LGBTs?

So a legal trial, where there is lots of structure, procedure and rules is now disrespectful, uncivil, lacks common sense and is undemocratic?  Pardon me while I laugh.

Yes, we do believe we have a right to win a court case. The judicial system  creates winners and losers, shocker I know…

It isn’t that we think you don’t count, it’s just that we think there are three branches of government with checks and balances on the other two.  The judicial system has a role to play in determining the constitutionality of both federal and state law.  That’s exactly what will happen in the courtroom (with some luck) on Monday.

This trial is going to be full of drama.  I’m very much looking forward to it.  I know I’ve been a bit of a slacker about blogging as of late, but expect some more writing from me over the next few weeks about the trial.

Camp Courage: Winning Back Marriage by Telling Painful Stories

This weekend’s Camp Courage in Sacramento was a good tonic for the loss in Maine and part of our collective path forward to restoring marriage equality to California.  The heart of Camp Courage is learning how to craft your “story-of-self” a personal, emotional version of who you are and why this issue matters so much to you.  The goal is to empower activists to use their personal narrative to bring about political change.  Stories-of-self can be used to recruit volunteers, to inspire a crowd or to change a persons’ vote one door at a time.

It isn’t easy to have people open up and share the most painful, scary, raw parts of their lives.  But those are the stories that are the ones that need to be told the most. The power of Camp Courage comes from people risking sharing their stories of pain thus forming community and strength.

Adam Bink over at Open Left quotes Harvey Milk’s famous “come out come out” speech and writes:

The same tactic Milk used for school employees everywhere must continue to be used in these communities. We have to encourage people in these towns to come out of the closet and say they want the right to marry. State Representative Mike Carey, who represents heavily Catholic downtown Lewiston and voted in favor of marriage equality in the legislature, pointed out to me that in these kinds of votes, the default vote is for fear, and it is a huge barrier to reach one’s conscience if they have no personal knowledge of the issue. For all the “gay marriage will be taught in schools” ads our opponents ran in Maine and will run in other states that tap that fear element, we have to counter with people who can give voters that kind of personal touch on the issue.

It isn’t just gay people that we need to come out and tell their stories, it is all of our wonderful straight allies.  No, there is no application to become a straight ally, just start telling everyone you know your personal story of why you support equality for all.

One of our amazing volunteers that helped put together Camp Courage Sacramento Chris Huack brought his parents to Camp.  He blogged about the experience at the Courage Campaign.  Here is Chris relaying the three reflections his dad had about Camp. (more on the flip)

1 – He had no idea the pain that LGBT people had felt over discrimination and losing initiatives like Proposition 8 and Question 1 until he saw people speaking about them openly and honestly at the Camp. See, I have always been a more stoic, let’s “focus on what we can do in the future” type of person, so for my Mom and Dad, they had never truly appreciated the pain this had inflicted on our community until they heard the stories of personal pain from others.

2 – My Dad shared with me his “Story of Self.” He had a gay cousin who had died of AIDS when my Dad was in his 20s. He had a lesbian sister who had come out to him and was now married with her wife. And he had me, his gay son, who was fighting for equality and who he hoped could one day get married in front of friends and family. LGBT issues had slowly intertwined their way thought his life and had always handled them decently (very supportive of me and his sister), but now realized his previous actions had been woefully inadequate and that he could no longer sit on the sidelines while people he cared about suffered and were discriminated against.

3 – He needed to get involved today. He wanted to sign up to canvass and to join California Faith for Equality, provided they had a means for him to contribute to meaningful action.

As stoic as I may be, I found myself fighting back tears as my Dad related this to me and my Mom agreed with him. Then at dinner, as my Dad related to other family members what he had learned and why it was so important for us to proactively work for change – I fully understood the importance of Camp Courage. Yes, it is a great experience for LGBT leaders and organizers. However, I missed an important opportunity in East LA, when I went to Camp but neglected to recruit my straight friends and family in LA to attend with me. This experience is not just a meaningful skills training for gay people – it is an opportunity to teach, empower and share ourselves and our struggle more fully with friends, straight allies and family. It is an opportunity to bring new faces and perspectives into the fight for equality.

One by one we are building an army to repeal Prop 8.  It is not easy, or fast, but it is absolutely critical to our success.  The best way we change hearts and minds is having everyone supportive of equality speaking from their hearts.  

We have to be vulnerable.  It is wrenching to know that as a gay person that the best path to earning the right to get married some day is if I share my most painful moments of my life with strangers in order to win their vote.  It shouldn’t be that way, but that’s what it takes and it is what I will continue to do.  Will you join me?

(full disclosure: I proudly work for the Courage Campaign)

Loss and Resolve: Lessons from Maine

(full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign and was on loan to No on 1)

A year ago I knew what went wrong and I knew how to fix it.

A year later, I don’t know what went wrong.  I don’t know how to fix it.

We had the money.  We had a stable campaign.  We had the a robust well-oiled field campaign.  We had a strong campaign manager.  We had the turnout we wanted.  We had great coordination between the netroots and the campaign.  We had a not particularly religious state.  We neutralized the church issue.  We had a manageable voter universe.  We had an opposition with an inferior media and field operation.  We had TV ads with gay people in them.  We responded to their attacks swiftly.  

And we still lost.

Our campaign wasn’t perfect.  But it was damn good.

And that’s why this loss is so hard.  The lessons to be learned are not as obvious.  Not knowing how to fix it makes it tempting to throw our hands up in the air and say at 0-31 we just can’t win marriage rights at the ballot box.  Or we have to wait a decade until we can.

But that would be letting them win.  That would be giving up.  That would be accepting inequality.

We can’t.  I won’t.

We need to learn how to neutralize the schools issue better than we did this time.  We must continue telling our stories, one by one, person by person, door by door.

Nate Silver as usual has some smart thoughts:

I certainly don’t think the No on 1 campaign can be blamed; by every indication, they ran a tip-top operation whereas the Yes on 1 folks were amateurish. But this may not be an issue where the campaign itself matters very much; people have pretty strong feelings about the gay marriage issue and are not typically open to persuasion. There’s going to be an effort by many on the left to blame Barack Obama for his lack of leadership on gay rights issues; I think the criticism is correct on its face, but I don’t know how much it has to do with the defeat in Maine. A more popular Democratic governor, for instance, who had been a bit quicker on the trigger in his support of gay marriage, might have helped more.

Persuading voters to change their minds about marriage equality is extremely difficult, but it is possible and it happens every single day.  It just takes a lot of resources and is most effective on a one-to-one level.  

That means we must continue to invest in grassroots organizing, training new leaders to work in their communities and supporting their efforts over time.  We need to continue to build connections and relationships with faith communities.  We can organize in churches.  We can even organize in Mormon Temples and Catholic Churches.  It has happened.  It is happening.

There are lessons to be learned out of Maine.  We know that we can build a massive GOTV operation.  We know how to build a model where a campaign invests in the netroots and reaps the rewards.  The church issue can be neutralized.  It’s possible to set aside differences and focus on a common goal.  We can build a campaign to be proud of as a community.

What we can do now is have experts in Maine politics analyze the results to understand better how we lost.  We need talk to the No on 1 campaign leadership/consultants to get their advice like they did from our Prop 8 loss.

We can win marriage back in California.  We will win marriage back in California.  We can win marriage in Maine.  We will win marriage in Maine.

I am not quitting.  You better not be either.

This weekend I am picking myself back up and getting right back to work, training hundreds of activists in Sacramento how to organize at Camp Courage.  They will and I will come in with heavy hearts, but leave empowered.  

We will leave and fight the next fight together.

Say No to Manchester: Boycott Continues

Doug Manchester played a relatively unsung, but crucial role in qualifying Prop 8 for the ballot. His $125,000 donation came in at a critical time when the proponents were running out of cash during the signature gathering process.

It is conceivable that Prop 8 would not have made it on to the ballot, if it were not for Doug Manchester.  In response to that donation and the poor treatment of his workers a boycott of his hotels was established a year ago, and has now cost Manchester upwards of $7 million in canceled reservations.

He has hired gay heavyweight PR crisis man Howard Bragman to respond to the boycott.  Their genius idea was to offer up $100,000 in hotel credits and a $25,000 contribution to any 501c3 organization that supports civil unions.

It was a cynical attempt to try and buy-off and divide the LGBT and labor communities.  And it’s not working.  No way.  No how.

Today, the Courage Campaign, Equality California, UNITE HERE and Californians Against Hate have teamed up to launch the “Say No to Manchester” website, asking our members to sign a pledge to uphold the boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt and Grand del Mar Resort.

It’s a relatively unique campaign with labor and LGBT organizations coming together to support workers rights and equality.  These types of coalitions are crucial for building progressive power here in California.  Any repeal of Prop 8 will need support from our brothers and sisters in labor and they need our help on their organizing efforts for workers’ dignity and rights.

Boycotts don’t always work, but this one has been effective, though not perfect.  Unfortunately, the California Bar Association has refused to move their annual.  Jenny Pizer from Lambda Legal:

“The bar associations recognize that many of their members will not feel comfortable attending conference activities at the Manchester Hyatt given its owner’s extraordinary personal support of the campaign that made gay people and their families unequal under law, and undermined the basic rights of all minority groups in California,” she wrote.

Of course, Bragman tries to wedge labor and LGBTs.

Bragman added that the boycott was less about LGBT rights, and more about the hotel workers trying to unionize. “The union issues and the boycott and the GLBT issues are apples and oranges,” he said. “They are two separate issues. We frankly have a boycott that is being funded and designed by people who have motives other than the GLBT community in an effort to unionize the properties.”

Is it inconceivable to Bragman that LGBTs care about workers rights AND their own rights, not to mention the fact that shocker of all shockers, there are LGBT hotel workers?  Like I said earlier, we are unified and will not let Manchester divide us, try though they might.

Flip it for the email we sent out to our members today.

Dear Julia —

It’s time for unity in the face of those who seek to divide us.

Doug Manchester, owner of the second-largest Hyatt hotel in the country — and the man who donated $125,000 in crucial early seed money to the Prop 8 campaign — has launched a cynical public relations campaign to divide the marriage equality and labor movements.

That’s why the Courage Campaign and Equality California are teaming up to reject Manchester’s attempt to divide Californians. Will you join us?

Here’s the story:

Doug Manchester owns the Grand Hyatt hotel in San Diego. When he gave $125,000 in early seed money to the “Yes on 8” campaign — a critical infusion of urgent cash that paid for the signature-gathering to put Prop 8 on the ballot — Californians Against Hate teamed up with Cleve Jones and the hotel workers’ union UNITE HERE to lead a boycott of Manchester’s hotels, subsequently joined by the Courage Campaign, Equality California and several other organizations concerned about equality and workers’ rights.

Launched in the summer of 2008, this highly successful boycott is believed to have cost Manchester’s Grand Hyatt more than $7 million in lost business. Despite the success of this growing boycott, Doug Manchester has refused to apologize, refused to meet with the organizations leading the boycott, and refused to improve conditions for hotel workers.

Instead, Manchester has tried to buy off LGBT organizations by offering $100,000 in “hotel credits” and $25,000 to any 501(c)3 organization that supports “civil unions” — a tax write-off for Manchester that dodges full support for marriage equality and could never be used to fund a repeal of Prop 8, the passage of which Manchester made possible.

No one has accepted.

Today, the Courage Campaign and Equality California are launching the new “Say No To Manchester” web site along with UNITE HERE and Californians Against Hate and asking our members to sign a pledge to join the Manchester boycott. Please click here to add your name today:

By signing this pledge, you will increase pressure on Doug Manchester to make a public apology for his $125,000 donation to Prop 8 and negotiate an honest, fair resolution with boycott organizers.

Thank you for joining the Courage Campaign, Equality California, UNITE HERE, and Californians Against Hate. Standing together in solidarity, this growing movement for equality and fairness will win.

Rick Jacobs

Chair, Courage Campaign

Walters tries to weaken Boxer

Ye ole curmudgeon decided to level his sights on Sen. Barbara Boxer today and discuss her re-election chances.  He starts out with this lede:

California’s U.S. senators tend to fall into two categories – headline-grabbers and dependable workhorses for the state’s interests.

Headline grabbers…hmm that would have to be Sen. Feinstein, who relishes her self-designated role of wise moderate woman, that determines what is or is not a deal.

Somehow, I think that Walters meant it the other way around.  He references “quixotic political frays” that have “nothing to do with California”.  Then of course he never gives any examples, leaving the reader to either scratch their head, or trust the wise man of the column.

Walters then brings up the Rasmussen poll from a few weeks ago, which was unsurprising.  Like most years Boxer looks vulnerable, tempting the Republicans to throw the kitchen sink to unseat her.

This year the national Republican hierarchy are excited about Carly Fiorina, who gets 41 to Boxer’s 45 in the matchup.  Of course she has to get past movement conservative Chuck DeVore in the primary.  Fiorina’s primary is not a shoe-in.  It would not be all that surprising to see DeVore win the wingnut vote that dominates Republican primaries.  Fiorina will have to dump a ton of cash into the primary to hold DeVore off.

Walters then does his best to weaken Boxer by providing only half of her favorability numbers.

The latest poll, true to form, found Boxer’s overall job approval rating among California voters to be fairly low, with just 21 percent holding a “very favorable” view, down six points from March.

When one normally writes about favorability numbers you add up the very favorable and somewhat favorable results to come up with an overall favorability number.  In this case, according to this Rasmussen poll, she has a 21% very favorable and a 36% somewhat favorable, for an overall 57% favorabilty rating, which while not great isn’t nearly as bad as Walters tries to make it seem.

If Fiorina wins the primary then Boxer will likely have a tougher race in 2010, certainly compared to 2004.  We need to be prepared to defend her with all guns blazing.  Fiorina certainly comes with a lot of baggage that would be great fodder for blog posts and attack ads.

There are no huge alarm bells ringing right now, no matter what Walters has written, but we need to be on alert and watch closely as we move into election season.  Early cash is better than late cash.  Give via ActBlue.

From the Courage Campaign: 2010: It’s time to make a decision

There has been a lot of discussion about when to go back to the ballot to repeal Prop 8 over the last few months.

One thing we cannot do is let the clock run out. With that in mind, please read the statement we just put out to our community partners and chime in with your reactions in the comments.

From: Rick Jacobs, Chair, Courage Campaign and the staff of the Courage Campaign

To: Our friends, allies and partners in the marriage equality movement

Subject: 2010: It’s time to make a decision

I write to you today with urgency and seriousness. After months of discussion and debate, the time has come to make the tough decision.

In May, 83% of Courage Campaign members said that our organization should work with our partners to place a marriage equality initiative on the ballot in 2010. If the Courage Campaign and our allies in the movement want to initiate the repeal of Prop 8 in 2010, we must make that decision very soon.

Frankly, too much attention has been placed on the political consequences of running an election in 2010 or 2012. The bottom line is that we must begin now to convince the people of California that civil marriage rights should be made available to all people, period. None of us should have to wait one more day to achieve equality at any level.

And while I say that, I also don’t want to lose this critical battle. Going to the ballot in 2010 is a decision that obviously comes with potential consequences.

Our members told us to help build the movement, so over the last several months, the Courage Campaign has mobilized 44 grassroots Equality Teams in 23 counties across California. And we’ve held five Camp Courage trainings in communities from the coast to the Central Valley to train people to be successful organizers. Last weekend alone, 279 activists gathered in East L.A. at the most diverse Camp Courage yet, with tremendous support from the Latino and Asian Pacific Islander communities.

We’ve also been working with some of the smartest, most experienced campaign professionals in America — people who ran Barack Obama’s campaign, who know California and who can help our movement chart a course to victory. They’ve given us tough love, great advice and helped us outline the steps necessary to a successful outcome. This team isn’t telling us when to initiate the repeal of Prop 8, but they are telling us we need to start now with a persuasion campaign designed to win the hearts and minds of California voters — no matter which election year we wage the battle.

The Courage Campaign will support a repeal of Prop 8 in 2010 if our members — together with other major stakeholders involved in this movement — make a strong commitment to this campaign.

I want to be clear that no one organization can dominate what will need to be an independent, but accountable campaign operation. The Courage Campaign will aggressively support the effort, not run it. A small governing structure should oversee the day-to-day operations — giving an experienced campaign manager the latitude necessary to make smart, strategic and timely decisions. If a campaign for 2010 materializes, the governing structure should include those who did not necessarily support going to the ballot in 2010, but are necessary and fundamental partners to any campaign to win back marriage equality.

To win, we will need to run a smarter, stronger and more disciplined campaign. The first step in running a winning campaign is to ensure we use the most effective initiative language that a majority of California voters will support. This takes research – expert polling and focus group work that will help us gain the best understanding of the California electorate. And we must begin that research immediately.

Along with our allies, we need to raise $200,000 to conduct this research — and we don’t have much time to raise it. If the Courage Campaign can raise $100,000 and our partners and allies in the movement can raise another $100,000 — for a total of $200,000 — we can put the research effort in place and meet the late September deadline recommended by the Secretary of State for filing an initiative for 2010.

We are prepared to ask our members to raise $100,000 to meet our commitment to this goal. We are willing to ask the Courage Campaign community to make this commitment because they expressed their support for going to the ballot in 2010 by such an overwhelming margin.

If we can make this community fundraising goal, we can move forward. If we can’t make this community fundraising goal, then we will have to accept that the movement is not ready to produce the funding and resources necessary to support a campaign to repeal Prop 8 in 2010. And we will have to wait until 2012 to bring marriage equality to the ballot again.

Our people-powered organization is ready to win, but we are faced with the reality of these deadlines. If we want to convince a majority of our fellow Californians to support full civil marriage rights in 2010, the marriage equality movement has to stand up and commit to the cause now.