Calif. Marriage Initiative Falls Short, Reconsiders Strategy

One of two groups seeking a California constitutional amendment to define marriage as being between one man and one woman in the November 2006 ballot dropped its bid citing fundraising difficulties and a politically uncertain climate.

The ProtectMarriage.com Coalition said in a statement last Thursday that several obstacles interfered with its five-month petition drive, including diverted supporter funds to a parental-notification ballot measure in this year’s November elections, hurricane relief and the competing VoteYesMarriage.com initiative. The campaign fell 200,000 signatures short of the nearly 600,000 signatures it needed by its Dec. 27 deadline.

"It boils down to a recognition that a ballot fight isn't likely until 2008," said Andrew Pugno, ProtectMarriage’s legal advisor, according to the Associated Press. "This doesn't resolve the issue by any means; it merely delays the resolution."

Other factors Pugno cited were that the California Legislature may not reconsider a bill legalizing gay marriage next year and that a lawsuit on the marriage issue would not wind its way through the courts until the end of 2006.

VoteYesMarriage, the competing group which had criticized the language of the ProtectMarriage initiative as vague, encouraged voters to support its own measure, which it said was more detailed and precise.

In a statement, VoteYesMarriage reported that its own “true-blue marriage protection” effort was “moving steadily forward.” The group says it is taking its time to collect funds before starting its signature collection drive but indicated that it may also not put its effort before voters until 2008.

"Whether for 2006 or 2008, VoteYesMarriage.com is devoted to giving the people the chance to protect marriage from the clutches of the bureaucracy," said Randy Thomasson, who heads Campaign for Children and Families and the VoteYesMarriage initiative, according to AP.

ProtectMarriage.com said it would not endorse or support any other marriage amendment that could circulate in 2006. The group believes its initiative is the only one that has researched polling data showing that a majority of the state’s voters would approve of a constitutional amendment. The group says it will reconsider a new effort in 2006 or later depending on legislative and legal battles.

Sponsors of ProtectMarriage.com included conservative groups such as the Family Research Council, Focus on the Family, and Concerned Women for America.

Meanwhile, VoteYesMarriage.com's supporters included Liberty Counsel, the American Family Association and the Moral Majority Coalition.

None of the sponsors overlap.