When backers of a ballot measure to repeal Prop. 8 said they had failed to gather enough signatures to place it on the November ballot, a sigh of relief could be heard. Not from backers of Prop. 8, but rather from its opponents who feared 2010 was too early to return this question to state voters. Leading gay rights groups were split, but mostly against moving ahead this year with a repeal effort. Why? After spending some $42 million on a narrow loss with Prop. 8, community leaders were reluctant to return, hat in hand, especially during this economic downturn. Also, the turnout in 2012 will be larger (read: more liberal) and will include more people now 15 and older (read: big supporters of same sex marriage). And finally, the legal challenge of Prop. 8 is still making its way through the federal courts, and gay marriage supporters still hope for a favorable ruling -- with more than a little justification. Why confuse matters now?
The group Restore Equality 2010 declined to say how may signatures the all-volunteer effort had collected, but it's safe to say they didn't come close to the nearly 700,000 valid John Hancocks needed to quality. That's because the group had raised less than $11,000 -- a tiny fraction of the estimated $1 million it typically costs for the paid signature gatherers needed to qualify a statewide initiative. Brian Brown with Yes on 8 supporters the National Organization for Marriage, a major Yes on 8 backer, told the San Francisco Chronicle failure to collect enough signatures showed that "even the minority of Californians who voted against Prop. 8 have accepted that the majority rules and moved on to other issues." Don't bet on it. A new poll from the Public Policy Institute of California found that, for the first time, more California voters support the right of same sex couples to marry than oppose it. This will question will undoubtedly be back on the ballot -- almost certainly with Barack Obama on the November 2012 ballot.
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