Double The Hate, Twice The Hope

Proponents of a proposed anti-gay marriage referendum in California claim to have gathered nearly twice the necessary signatures needed to place the item on the November ballot.

The sponsors of a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw same-sex marriage in California said Monday they have gathered enough signatures to qualify the measure for the November ballot. A coalition of religious groups called Protect Marriage collected more than 1.1 million signatures in support of the amendment, said Brian Brown, executive director of the California office of the National Organization for Marriage.

The initiative needs 694,354 signatures, or 8 percent of the votes cast in the last governor’s race, to make it onto the ballot. “We have gone against tremendous odds to do this, and now the voters in California will have the chance to protect marriage,” Brown said.

Supporters of the Limit on Marriage initiative plan to deliver their signed petitions to county registrars this week, ahead of the April 28 submission deadline set by the California Secretary of State’s Office. The signatures must be verified before the amendment can be approved for the election.

Although gay men and lesbians cannot legally wed in California, opponents of same-sex unions want the ban written into the state Constitution. In that way, neither the Legislature nor the California Supreme Court can legalize gay marriage without approval from voters.

Twice the hope: With Schwarzenegger having come out against the referendum and the California Supreme Court rumored to approve marriage equality next month, Equality California say they are confident that the measure will will be defeated, should it go before the voters.

Of course, it’s a not-unreasonable fear that any huge victory such as achieving marriage equality in California may further energize our enemies. I remain convinced that Gavin Newsom’s ill-timed 2004 stunt in San Francisco, however magical and thrilling it may have been in the moment, ultimately hurt John Kerry. But while it may be a tough call to balance the valid cries of “If not now, when?” against the realities of election year politics, at least this time around the situation is legitimate.