Some $3.9 million was raised in Hollywood Oct. 21 to fight Proposition 8, the proposed state constitutional amendment that would re-ban same-sex marriage in California. The measure is on the Nov. 4 ballot.
Attendees who gave more than $50,000 at the event, held at the estate of supermarket mogul Ron Burkle, got to eat dinner with Barbra Streisand.
According to correspondent Karen Ocamb, the money is being used “to mount new, fresh and hard-hitting” TV ads “to compete head-to-head with what the [No on 8] campaign called ‘lies’ and ‘distortions’ from the Yes on 8 campaign in their desperate push to overturn marriage equality.”
The 200 mostly gay guests at the main event paid $1,000 each to hear Melissa Etheridge and Mary J. Blige perform three songs each. Streisand did not appear at the main event.
Etheridge agreed to sing at the wedding of one couple who donated $50,000.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom told the crowd, “This is the last great civil rights movement.”
Other attendees included Lt. Gov. John Garamendi; Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa; California Attorney General Jerry Brown; actor Rob Reiner and his wife, Michele; Streisand's husband, James Brolin; American Beauty producer Bruce Cohen and his husband, Gabriel Catone; California Assemblymen Mark Leno and Fabian Núñez; actor David Hyde Pierce; Brothers & Sisters executive producer Greg Berlanti; and philanthropist David Bohnett.
Recent polls have shown Prop 8 both winning and losing. The newest poll, a Public Policy Institute of California poll released Oct. 22, found that voters will reject the amendment by a margin of 52 to 44 percent. The telephone survey of 2,004 California adults had a margin of error of three percent for likely voters and two percent overall.
That poll followed several others that showed Prop 8 passing, which themselves followed several earlier polls that showed it losing.
Gay campaigners say the flip-flopping is a function of how often each side can afford to spam the airwaves with their ads. Donations can be made at noonprop8.com.
In other Prop 8 news:
• A former Republican mayor of Folsom, Calif., Glenn Fait, took out an ad in the Folsom Telegraph Oct. 22 to announce that he’s gay and to urge people to vote no on Prop 8. “For weeks, I was trying to figure out what I can do and then I thought, well, I can do this,” Fait, 65, told the Sacramento Bee. “My civil rights are at stake.” Fait was mayor of the Sacramento County city of 71,000 from 1995 to 1996.
• Leaders of the campaign to pass Prop 8 acknowledged Oct. 23 that they sent letters to more than 30 businesses and organizations that have contributed to the GLBT group Equality California, telling them to donate an equal amount against same-sex marriage or be outed as opponents of traditional marriage.
“Make a donation of a like amount … which will help us correct this error,” the letter said. “Were you to elect not to donate comparably, it would be a clear indication that you are in opposition to traditional marriage. … The names of any companies and organizations that choose not to donate in like manner to ProtectMarriage.com but have given to Equality California will be published.”
The letter was signed by members of the group's executive committee and a donation form was attached. Equality California Executive Director Geoffrey Kors said the letter was an attempt at extortion.
• The San Jose Mercury News reported Oct. 23 that Google co-founder and President Sergey Brin had donated $100,000 to defeat Prop 8 and co-founder Larry Page had donated $40,000.
• Apple posted a note on its Web site Oct. 24 saying: “Apple is publicly opposing Proposition 8 and making a donation of $100,000 to the No on 8 campaign. … We strongly believe that a person's fundamental rights—including the right to marry—should not be affected by their sexual orientation. Apple views this as a civil rights issue, rather than just a political issue, and is therefore speaking out publicly against Proposition 8.”
• MTV Networks/Viacom came out against Prop 8 on Oct. 24. They said: “On November 4th, Californians have the unique opportunity to go to the polls and stand up for what makes this a great country and a free society—inclusivity, freedom and respect for all. Proposition 8 is antithetical to those principles and a vote for ignorance, hatred and inequality.”
• Concerned that Prop 8 might pass, West Hollywood Mayor Jeff Prang and his partner, Ray Viscarra, got married Oct. 23 at City Hall. Openly gay Los Angeles City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl officiated. Viscarra told correspondent Karen Ocamb that the couple felt “rushed because of the fear of the election decision.”