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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.


Fidelity: This video will break your heart

(full disclosure: I work for the Courage Campaign)

News broke Tuesday that the California Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on March 5, and will then make a decision within 90 days on the validity of Prop 8 and the 18,000 marriages that took place last year before the election.

When Ken Starr’s legal brief, on behalf of the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund went public in December, the Courage Campaign immediately launched the “Don’t Divorce…” campaign, asking our members to send us pictures with a simple message for Starr and the Prop 8 Legal Defense Fund.

Those pictures, and the heartfelt messages on them, inspired Calitician and all around great guy Paul Delehanty (kid oakland) to send us a suggestion: Would Regina Spektor allow us to put your pictures to the words and music of her hit song “Fidelity”? So, we asked her and she very enthusiastically said yes.

Regina Spektor’s song, in concert with the pictures, shines a beautiful light on the 18,000 couples that Ken Starr wants to forcibly divorce.

Watch “Fidelity” and then tell the Supreme Court not to divorce 18,000 California couples. Tell the Court to invalidate Prop 8, reject Ken Starr’s case, and let loving, committed couples marry.

Sign the letter to the Supreme Court here.