The backers of Proposition 8 have begun to splinter. Protect Marriage, worried about being associated with the “extreme fringe” elements of the Christianist movement, has convinced the California Supreme Court to bar the Liberty Counsel from representing the Campaign For California Families in the coming legal battle.
The group that persuaded California voters this month to pass Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage, now is fighting its friends as well as its foes. Other conservative groups that loudly backed Prop. 8 are being targeted as too extreme and off-putting by ProtectMarriage.com, which put the constitutional amendment on the Nov. 4 ballot and hopes to help persuade the state Supreme Court to uphold the measure.
“We represent the people who got things done, who got Prop. 8 passed,” said Andrew Pugno, general counsel for the Yes on Prop. 8 campaign. “An important part of defending Prop. 8 is eliminating arguments not helpful to our concerns.” Pugno, for example, persuaded the Supreme Court last week to bar the Campaign for California Families from intervening in the court case over the validity of Prop. 8 and the same-sex marriage ban. “That organization represents the extreme fringe and is not representative of the coalition that got it passed,” Pugno said. “They didn’t even support Prop. 8 until sometime in the summer.”
People associated with the group didn’t expect the Prop. 8 campaign’s efforts to push them to the sidelines. “I’m surprised, because we’ve litigated beside each other for 4 1/2 years” in the unsuccessful effort to keep the Supreme Court from overturning Prop. 22 same-sex marriage ban in 2000, said Mathew Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel, which represents the Campaign for California Families. “We have the same goal, which is to defend Prop. 8.”
The group is run by Randy Thomasson, who for years has been one of California’s most visible opponents of gay rights and what he bills as “the homosexual agenda.” The people behind Prop. 8 have been butting heads with Thomasson for years, arguing that his efforts to outlaw same-sex marriage and curb domestic partnership arrangements are a long step further than a majority of California voters is willing to go.
In 2005 and again in January, Thomasson and his allies proposed initiatives that not only would bar same-sex marriage but that also “voids or makes unenforceable” rights conferred by California law on couples, gay or heterosexual, registered as domestic partners, including community property, child custody, hospital visitation and insurance benefits.
In a way, this is a bad thing. While it’s pleasurable to see infighting among our enemies, preventing whackjobs like Liberty Counsel spokespig (and faithful JMG reader) Matt Barber from arguing before the Supreme Court cleverly removes the most virulently anti-gay voices from the case. Just as the Westboro nutters only increase sympathy for gay rights, we need the Court to see the true faces of Christianist movement. Unfortunately for us, the people at Protect Marriage know this.