Defending Fairness in California

If you would like to help, please click here to protect the freedom to marry in California and defeat Prop. 8.

For more than thirty years, committed same-sex couples in California have sought the freedom to marry. Their "radical" goal? To be able to enjoy the same rights, responsibilities, and protections for themselves and their children that many heterosexual couples take for granted. Twice, since 2005, coalitions of civil-rights and religious allies successfully worked with state lawmakers to pass legislation to extend the freedom to marry, only to see those bills vetoed.

On May 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage. In a 4-to-3 decision based on precedents six decades old, the justices held that a fundamental right to marry is embraced by the state constitution and that this right extends to gay and lesbian couples. Even Governor Schwarzenegger, who had vetoed the marriage-equality bills, vowed to vote against any attack on the ruling.

Sill, opponents of equality and fairness had been gathering signatures for three years for a ballot measure that would add language to the state constitution to eliminate the freedom to marry.

Refusing to lose hard-won rights or allow the state constitution to be defaced in the process, supporters of equality continued to raise money to stop the attack on fairness. In June, that attack finally took shape as a ballot measure that qualified for the statewide Nov. 4 ballot: Proposition 8.

Organizations such as the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Equality California and the Equality for All Campaign, HonorPAC, and the Ballot Initiative Strategy (BISC) have rallied to stop Prop 8. These organizations and their supporters have unleashed a tremendous outpouring of activism and generosity aimed at defending fairness in California.

Progressive Victory has played a role in several events in 2008 to raise awareness and money to defend fairness and equality in California. Details about four such events can be found below.

Come Together to Create Change
Denver, Colorado
August 24, 2008

Scores of activists, leaders, and elected officials from around the country gathered in Denver to kick off preparations for the Task Force's 2009 National Conference on LGBT Equality. Sponsors of the event included the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Gill Action, Brett Family Foundation, and United Food and Commercial Workers Union (UFCW). Another sponsor and featured guest at the Denver gathering was Charlene Strong of Seattle.

Strong lost her late partner Kate Fleming in a flash flood that inundated their home in December 2006. Compounding the agony, she was initially barred from accessing her partner's room at the hospital and later from decision-making about her burial. A new documentary film "For My Wife" follows Strong's path from those tragedies into visible and effective activism on behalf of partnership-recognition and marriage equality. Washington state governor Christine Gregoire seized on the injustices Strong had suffered and embraced her when signing new state domestic-partnership bills in 2007 and 2008. Strong has joined the Task Force in defending marriage equality in California and urging state voters to reject Prop 8.

Photos of the event are below.

(National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
executive director Rea Carey)

(National Gay and Lesbian Task Force
Board Member and Progressive Victory
President Hans Johnson)

If you would like to help, please click here to protect the freedom to marry in California and defeat Prop. 8.

Got Change?
Progressive Solutions vs. Right Wing Gimmicks
Washington, D.C.
July 31, 2008

Voters in four states will vote this November on antigay ballot measures. Arizona, Arkansas, California, and Florida have the opportunity to reject attacks on the dignity and equality of LGBT people. The California fight, in particular, is closely watched as a signal for the fate of future efforts to extend fairness and the freedom to marry to committed same-sex couples.

For more than ten years, the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center (BISC) has crafted programs and created coalitions to stop fraud in the democratic process and to build progressive expertise in the arena of ballot measures. BISC's leadership has helped stop proposals lashing out at workers, women, the middle class, and consumers or threatening education, the environment, and equality under law. BISC is the single most important group addressing ballot measures on the entire national political landscape.

At a July event held in the courtyard of the United Auto Workers (UAW) Washington Office, BISC honored Christine Chavez, a dedicated advocate for equality and leading foe of Prop 8 in California. Chavez is the granddaughter of United Farm Workers union co-founder Cesar Chavez and a formidable activist for labor and civil rights in her own right.

More than 100 people came together to honor Christine and raise funds to support BISC.

Photos of the event are below.

(Helen Gonzales, Hans Johnson,
and Laura Esquivel)

(Helen Gonzales, Laura Esquivel,
and Christine Chavez)

Honor Our Past, Empower Our Future:
A 30th Anniversary Celebration of Defeating the Antigay Briggs Initiative
Los Angeles, CA
June 22, 2008

In 1978, California state senator John Briggs sought to win a Republican primary for governor by sponsoring a far-reaching attack on gay people. His initiative, which survived his failed primary campaign and qualified for the Nov. '78 ballot, would have forced the investigation, punishment, and termination of any educator who treated the existence of gay people with tolerance or respect.

For the first time in U.S. history, gay and lesbian grassroots activists mobilized on a large scale to alert voters to the unfairness, cost, and consequences of the Briggs Initiative. Even Ronald Reagan denounced the measure. Public opinion swung against it, leading to its defeat by voters by a 4-to-3 margin.

Thirty years later, more than 150 people gathered in Los Angeles to celebrate the defeat of Briggs, to raise money to defeat Prop 8, and to send the message that it will face the same fate as the Briggs Initiative.

Sponsors of the event included the California Teachers Association, SEIU United Healthcare Workers West, SEIU Local 721, and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California.

Photos of the event are below.

(Phillip De Blieck, Rev. Troy Perry,
Hans Johnson, and Luis Lopez)

(Hans Johnson, Dolores Huerta,
and Luis Lopez)

(The board of Honor-PAC, the California statewide
Latina/o LGBT political action committee, with
H-PAC advisory board member Dolores Huerta)

Celebrating "ĄGaytino!" and the Role of Artists
in the Labor and Civil-Rights Movements:
Reception for Dan Guerrero on the occasion of his premiere at
the Kennedy Center and the dawn of marriage equality in California
Washington, D.C.
June 22, 2008

Dan Guerrero has made a career of uniting showbiz and politics. His powerful one-man stage memoir traces his own trajectory from East Los Angeles to New York and back again. And his fusion of the labor, civil-rights, and gay-rights movements extend a path blazed by his dad, the "father of Chicano music," Lalo Guerrero. Guerrero and his partner Richard Read join the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force California Committee--No on 8 in urging voters in their home state to reject the attack on freedom and fairness and stop Prop 8.

If you would like to help, please click here to protect the freedom to marry in California and defeat Prop. 8.