Activists Unveil Unique Social-Networking Tool to Support Signature Gathering Effort
(SACRAMENTO) On November 16, the next generation of web based activism for marriage equality, SignForEquality.com, officially launched. This groundbreaking effort marks the first time that social networking technology will be used to gather signatures and qualify a California initiative. The initiative of their focus is one poised to repeal Proposition 8 in November 2010. If the repeal passes, marriage rights for same-sex couples will be restored.
“We’re taking names,” said John Henning, who is heading the SignForEquality.com effort as Executive Director of Love Honor Cherish. “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. People throughout California can now help us win marriage back by the simple act of signing and collecting signatures.”
Henning noted that in recent years, signature gathering campaigns have been in the hands of a few powerful elite, who qualify ballot initiatives by spending millions on paid signature gatherers.
“SignForEquality.com brings the campaign back to the people,” said Henning. “We’re going to qualify this initiative person by person, and signature by signature. Even if it means just gathering your signature, your husband’s and your neighbor’s; it just takes a few minutes and a postage stamp.”
Not since 1982 has an initiative qualified for the California election ballot without paid signature gathers, but Henning is optimistic about the all-volunteer effort.
“In those days there was no internet, we now have technology that didn’t exist 27 years ago and the website’s reach is unlimited.”
The site features a downloadable petition form, training videos for signature gatherers and uses unique social networking technology to help gatherers set goals, build teams, and find signature gathering events.
“In its first day, SignForEquality.com is already the state of the art in California petition signature gathering”, said Henning, “All the information you need is on the website.”
The proponents of the ballot initiative have 150 days to gather approximately one million signatures. The signatures are due on April 12, 2010 but SignForEquality is requesting that all signatures be turned in no later than April 5, allowing for a few extra days for them to be sorted and checked against County registration records.
As signature gathering gets underway, the campaign to change the hearts and minds of voters has already begun and will continue through the November 2010 election.
“Prop 8 passed last year with just 52% of the vote,” said Henning. “Now, a year later, a recent L.A. Times poll says that 51% favor marriage equality. In the next 12 months, we’ll make that margin even bigger.”
Proposition 8 was an amendment to the California Constitution passed by voters in November 2008. It reversed a California Supreme Court decision in May 2008, which held that same-sex couples were guaranteed equal marriage rights under the California Constitution. The new ballot proposition is also a constitutional amendment.
Signature gathering will be taking place in various locations throughout the state as volunteers begin to organize into teams. In San Diego County, four teams have been formed since the website's launch, and they are seeking members. Teams are located in Oceanside, South Bay, central San Diego and Escondido.
The South Bay Team Captain is a straight ally for LGBT rights and is happy to make an effort to “overturn the hatefulness of Prop 8”. He states on the website that he is fighting because, “What is the point of being a democracy if my gay sisters and brothers have their right to choose marriage taken away? There shall be no second class citizens in this country, all are first class!”
Oceanside’s Team Captain says he is fighting because, “Equality under the law is a step closer to social justice for all.” The Escondido Team Captain feels it is simply “a matter of equal rights!”
Their reasons are similar and echoed by many across the state. Henning feels that LGBT community is “seizing momentum from our loss at the ballot box and we have a running start toward winning in November 2010,” adding, “California will not be deterred by Maine’s results, we are primed to win. Our Maine was last year with the passage of Prop 8.”