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Opponents Of California Gay History Law Are Seeking A Referendum

Opponents of the bill that requires California schools to include LGBT history education are seeking a referendum. Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia said the law will likely be repealed if it was put up for a vote in a referendum.

The Associated Press has an article about this referendum:

At churches, shopping centers, schools, and local tea party meetings in California, fired-up volunteers have started gathering signatures for a ballot referendum that would repeal the nation’s first law requiring public schools to include prominent gay people and gay rights’ milestones in school lessons.

Organizers of the Stop SB48 campaign? Senate Bill 48 was the law approved by the California Legislature and signed by Gov. Jerry Brown in July ? are telling would-be voters the new mandate would inappropriately expose young children to sex, infringe on parental rights and silence religion-based criticisms of homosexuality. Those are talking points successfully used by proponents of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot measure that banned same-sex marriage in California.

But so far, Mormon and Catholic church leaders and conservative groups who spearheaded the Proposition 8 campaign have not joined the effort to qualify the gay history referendum for the June 2012 ballot, leaving less-experienced Christian conservatives to lead the charge without the organizational prowess and funding to hire paid signature gatherers.

Political operatives say they can’t recall any citizens’ initiative that made the state ballot without professional petition circulators in almost three decades.

Equality California Executive Director Roland Palencia has acknowledged that opponents of the gay history law would likely win if the law was put up for a vote. the Bay Area Reporter reports:

Right now the anti-gay groups that spearheaded Proposition 8 are gathering signatures to get the SB 48 referendum on the ballot next year. They have until October 12 to collect 504,760 valid signatures. According to EQCA and its coalition partners, much of that work is currently taking place in churches ? no surprise there ? but the prospect of hired signature gatherers sprouting up outside big box stores in the final push is very real.

We noticed something on the EQCA conference call, which included coalition director Andrea Shorter and communications director Rebekah Orr: there’s no robust unified strategy to keep the referendum from qualifying or what to do if it does. There needs to be one message to meet the opposition. If we’ve learned nothing else from the Prop 8 fiasco, it’s that our side was disorganized, afraid, and timid.

Palencia later clarified his comments, but still maintains ? correctly ? that any ballot fight over SB 48, which would require public schools to include factual, age-appropriate information about the contributions of LGBT people and people with disabilities, will be extremely difficult. Orr acknowledged that the coalition has yet to find the “silver bullet” on overcoming the fear factor that the homophobes are quite adept at instilling in straight parents, especially mothers.

Read the full article via CBS NEWS