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San Diegans Kick Off Prop 8 Repeal Signature Drive

(SAN DIEGO) Around 20 people gathered in San Diego's gay Hillcrest district on Wednesday to launch the local arm of the grassroots campaign to repeal Proposition 8 in 2010. Community reporters and one TV station turned out to cover the event.

The local group's plans sound ambitious. They said the San Diego region of the campaign has committed to collect 150,000 of the 1.2 million voter signatures to be collected statewide. Although only 694,354 valid signatures are needed to put a Prop 8 repeal initiative on the ballot, many signatures would turn out not to be valid.

The San Diego activists said they need 1,500 local volunteers to collect 100 signatures each before the deadline 144 days from now. Overall, local volunteers would need to obtain an average of 1,027 signatures per day.

The statewide campaign says it will achieve its goal using a "state-of-the-art ... unique social-networking tool."

"SignForEquality.com will make history by using custom social-networking tools, as well as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, to support an all-volunteer signature drive to repeal Prop 8," said Love Honor Cherish Executive Director John Henning. "People throughout California can now help us win marriage back by the simple act of signing and collecting signatures."

The Web site features a downloadable petition form and training videos for signature gatherers, and uses social-networking technology to help gatherers set goals, build teams and find signature-gathering events, Henning said.

California ballot-measure campaigns typically spend millions of dollars to employ paid signature-gatherers. "SignForEquality.com brings the campaign back to the people," Henning said. The signatures must be turned into state officials by April 12.

The grassroots 2010 effort does not have support from large GLBT groups, many of which have said or suggested they want to wait until 2012 to attempt to undo Prop 8. The Courage Campaign had earlier supported a 2010 campaign but later complained of deficiencies in governing structure, expertise, research and funding.

Same-sex marriage was legal in California for 4 1/2 months in 2008 until voters passed Prop 8 amending the state constitution to overturn the state Supreme Court ruling that authorized gay nuptials.

The petitions being circulated state: "To protect religious freedom, no court shall interpret this measure to require any priest, minister, pastor, rabbi, or other person authorized to perform marriages by any religious denomination, church, or other non-profit religious institution to perform any marriage in violation of his or her religious beliefs. The refusal to perform a marriage under this provision shall not be the basis for lawsuit or liability, and shall not affect the tax-exempt status of any religious denomination, church or other religious institution. To provide for fairness in the government's issuance of marriage licenses, Section 7.5 of Article I of the California Constitution is hereby amended to read ... Marriage is between only two persons and shall not be restricted on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, or religion."

Veteran journalist Rex Wockner has reported news for gay media for 25 years in 350+ publications in 38 countries.