April 25th, 2008 04:40 EST
California's Marriage Initiative Heads for the Ballot
ProtectMarriage.com, a coalition of pro-family organizations, churches and individuals, announced today successfully collecting signatures from over 1.1 million voters to put an initiative on the November ballot to protect marriage in California as only between a man and a woman.
"The people's overwhelming support to protect the longstanding meaning of marriage as between a man and a woman has been staggering," stated Ron Prentice, Chairman of the ProtectMarriage.com Executive Committee and CEO of California Family Council. "The California Marriage Amendment will allow the people of California, not politicians or judges, to reaffirm the definition of marriage by placing it in the Constitution."
Proponents collected most of the signatures in just a little more than 90 days, far fewer than the 150 days allowed by law. Signature gatherers also overcame a "decline-to-sign" campaign waged by gay-rights organizations, which resulted in significant harassment and intimidation of voters wishing to sign the petition.
Prentice explained that boxes of petitions are being delivered to election officials in all 58 counties, who will now validate the petitions and determine if the needed 694,354 valid signatures have been submitted. If so, the measure will appear on the November 2008 ballot.
Senator Dennis Hollingsworth, a proponent and signer of the initiative, said, "This initiative places the wording of Proposition 22, which was passed just a few years ago by over 61% of voters, into the state Constitution where it is safe from tampering by lawmakers and judges. We are very encouraged by the number of volunteers that have turned out to place this important issue before the people and are confident that the ballot measure will pass in November."
Proposition 22, which did not change the state Constitution, is currently being reviewed by the California Supreme Court in a legal challenge brought by the City of San Francisco and gay-rights organizations. A decision is expected by June.
Since the passage of Prop 22 in 2000, state lawmakers have approved domestic partnerships in California, which provide many of the rights and benefits of marriage to same-sex couples and heterosexual couples over 62 - without the requirement of marriage. The California Marriage Amendment will not affect these rights or benefits.