Prop 8 repeal group works to raise profile with SF party
by David Duran
Internet sensation Zach Wahls made a special trip to San Francisco in support of Love Honor Cherish's efforts to repeal Proposition 8 and NOH8's new viral public education campaign.
Wahls is the 20-year-old son of a same-sex couple who proudly testified at a public hearing regarding a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage in Iowa last year. He became a social media sensation just hours after his speech was posted on YouTube. To date, the video now has close to 20 million views and became YouTube's number one political video in 2011.
"I'm excited to come to San Francisco and speak about my family and the inequality of denying marriage in California, where gays and lesbians still wait since the passing of Proposition 8 in 2008," said Wahls.
The Los Angeles-based Love Honor Cherish and NOH8 have teamed up to launch a new viral public education program to encourage activists and others to tell their stories about why California should have marriage equality and the impact that waiting has had on the lives on LGBT families.
There was a brief period in 2008 when same-sex couples could legally wed in the Golden State, but that stopped after voters passed Proposition 8, the same-sex marriage ban. A federal lawsuit was filed to overturn Prop 8, and that case is in a federal appeals court, where a decision is expected soon. Meanwhile, Love Honor Cherish has decided to go ahead with its second effort to repeal Prop 8 at the ballot box.
Its first effort two years ago failed to collect the necessary number of signatures to place an initiative on the ballot.
The January 22 benefit at Vessel-San Francisco also included NOH8 co-founders Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley, who are well known for the highly stylized photos Bouska has taken of celebrities and others with duct tape across their mouths and NOH8 stenciled on their cheek in red and black.
The party, attended by about 200 people, was part of Confession, a new monthly party by Reason to Party and Vessel SF. Reason to Party is a charity that uses social media to bring together young professionals for spectacular parties that support various causes. One hundred percent of proceeds from last Sunday's event will benefit Love Honor Cherish. Confession takes place every third Sunday at Vessel.
Prop 8 repeal
Love Honor Cherish is stepping up to attempt to repeal Prop 8 in spite of major LGBT groups deciding against such a move. Equality California decided last year not to return to the ballot in 2012. EQCA's decision came despite its members' favoring working to repeal Prop 8, and despite the town halls that EQCA held where people supported repealing Prop 8 if the federal court case does not go well.
Shortly after EQCA's decision was announced last fall, Roland Palencia, who had started as executive director only a few months before, abruptly resigned.
Love Honor Cherish has received the okay from the secretary of state's office to begin circulating petitions and must collect 807,615 valid signatures by May 14 to place the initiative on the November ballot.
But money is a key part of success, and so far, it appears that Love Honor Cherish is not raising the millions of dollars that will be needed to wage a statewide initiative campaign, although officials remain hopeful.
"Our online giving continues to grow and we're planning a celebrity event in Los Angeles next month," interim Executive Director Eric Harrison told the Bay Area Reporter.
When asked more about fundraising, Harrison said, "we have seen so much energy and enthusiasm and we need to channel that sooner rather than later."
He declined to provide a specific dollar amount.
The organization is planning on expanding its office space, which officials hope will enable them to mobilize volunteer phone banking and canvass teams.
Earlier this month, organization leaders stated they would need to raise $1 million by February. When asked about this, Harrison hinted that, "conversations with major donors are moving forward steadily."
But he also made it clear that a ruling was expected soon in the federal Prop 8 case, and their future strategy would depend on what the ruling is. Most legal observers believe that no matter what the appeals court decides, the case will eventually go to the U.S. Supreme Court.
"We are optimistic, we are playing offense in the event that it should not go in our favor. We need to be prepared and stop being reactive," Harrison said.
Love Honor Cherish will hold an event on January 27 at the Lookout bar, 3600 16th Street, with its local volunteer team, as well as a signature gathering event on February 6 with a screening at the Castro Theatre of The Right to Love an American Family.
For more information about Love Honor Cherish, visit www.lovehonorcherish.org.