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California may see anti-gay ballot measure

Californians may be voting on gay matters again.

This time the target is the law Gov. Jerry Brown signed July 14 that
requires public schools to teach about LGBT people’s contributions to the
state and nation.

Anti-gay activists have submitted the paperwork to launch a voter repeal
referendum and have hit the Web with StopSB48.com. Its slogan: “Stop SB
48. It costs too much. It goes too far.”

Their next task will be to collect signatures from 504,760 registered
California voters before mid-October.

“It’s disheartening but not surprising,” said Equality California
Executive Director Roland Palencia. “When we set out to ensure that
California students learn fair and accurate information about the rich and
diverse history of LGBT people and people with disabilities as well as
their contributions to society, we knew we’d face opposition.”

EQCA is seeking donations of $48 (the law was Senate Bill 48) to begin
ramping up to fight the possible referendum.

“As with Proposition 8, opponents of equality are ready to amass a huge
financial war chest to misrepresent the law, spread more lies about LGBT
people and turn back the clock on equality,” Palencia said. “To win, we’ll
have to match them dollar for dollar and educate the public about the
importance of the FAIR Education Act.”

Should the referendum make it to the ballot, it could be one of two
gay-related initiatives. California LGBT activists still have not made a
final decision on whether to return to the ballot next year in an attempt
to undo Proposition 8 — the voter-passed state constitutional amendment
that re-banned same-sex marriage in 2008.

Prop 8 was later struck down as unconstitutional by a federal court but
has remained in force throughout numerous twists and turns in a prolonged
appeal of the decision. At the moment, at least three matters are
unresolved:

* The appeal of the main ruling that struck down Prop 8.

* Pending decisions from both the California Supreme Court and the 9th
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on whether the people who appealed had a
right to appeal. (California state officials refused to defend Prop 8, so
the sponsors of the ballot measure appealed the ruling that struck it
down.)

* A pending determination by the 9th Circuit on whether the entire
lower-court ruling should be tossed out because the judge who issued it is
in a same-sex relationship and, supposedly, could have had a desire to get
married himself at the moment he issued the decision.

This final issue is unlikely to go anywhere. But the question of whether
the ballot-measure sponsors have legal “standing” to appeal is a real one.
If they don’t, then there will be no appeal and the ruling that struck
down Prop 8 will take effect.

Should the appeal proceed on the actual merits of the decision, it would
be heard first by the 9th Circuit and then likely go to the U.S. Supreme
Court, which could uphold Prop 8, strike it down in a way that applies
only to California, or strike it down in a way that legalizes same-sex
marriage nationwide.

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