November 17, 2011
By Adam Bink
Well, as if this day couldn’t get any more hectic, it just did. And, on the subject of California ballot initiatives, funny enough.
Today, the organizations opposing the FAIR Education Act (also known as SB48) requested title and summary from the Attorney General, which is the first step towards placing an initiative on the November 2012 ballot to repeal it. Once they get it, they will have 150 days to collect 504,760 signatures to place the measure on the ballot. We at Courage Campaign expected this coming sooner or later. You may remember the same people tried and failed to qualify the law for a ballot referendum. This is different, and is more or less another shot at the same goal.
The FAIR Education Act is a law taking effect in January which requires schools to integrate factual information about social movements, current events and history of people of color, people with disabilities and LGBT people into existing social studies lessons. It also prevents schools from adopting instructional materials that discriminate.
For some background on this, their chances to get it on the ballot and what you can do to stop it (especially for those who are new here), here’s what I wrote a few weeks ago:
An initiative requires collection of the same number of signatures as a referendum (504,760) but one gets more time in which to get complete the process (90 days for a referendum to get title and summary, collect signatures and turn them in vs. 150 days for an initiative). In addition, for an initiative, the 150-day clock starts after title and summary is received from the attorney general, whereas with a referendum that time counts against the 90 days (meaning one must wait for title and summary before collecting signatures, but the 90-day clock has already started ticking). The initiative must also qualify at least 131 days before the next statewide election at which the sponsor is attempting to qualify the measure — in this case, before November 6, 2012. They also must start from scratch — they cannot use the signatures they collected the first time around. There are also additional deadlines depending on how many signatures are collected and which counting method is used by elections officials to verify signatures.
Translation of all of that. The Stop SB 48 campaign claims they collected 497,404 signatures. Let’s say for the moment that isn’t bluster and it’s accurate. A general rule of thumb on collecting signatures is that a percentage (some say around 20%) are invalid for one reason or another — and that is acknowledged below by the campaign itself. So they fell fairly short, even if they aren’t exaggerating. If they get an extra 60 days to collect signatures, will they make it? Maybe. They are facing some tight deadlines, and a lot of that depends on different factors — how much money they raise this time to employ paid signature-gatherers since (with very, very few exceptions) all-volunteer or mostly volunteer efforts don’t make it; whether, after our successful decline-to-sign campaign was mounted, the public will be fooled by the lies that were and will be told by the campaign; how many resources our side has to fight the effort; whether, after the law takes effect in January, the public and/or people who signed the referendum the first time realizes the sky hasn’t and won’t fall on kids in California schools; on and on.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on this one. It goes without saying that we will need everyone’s help to beat this back a second time. If you haven’t chipped in to our decline-to-sign campaign efforts, please throw some coin in. If you haven’t signed up for updates on the FAIR Education Act and our work to defend it, please do so if you’re interested. Over 12,000 Courage members across California helped beat this back the first time through community education and confronting signature gatherers, along with our coalition partners at EQCA, GSA Network and others. For more on that, check out the link at top. We’ll need everyone’s help again.
The formal request for title and summary can be found here. They simply want to delete “sexual orientation” or “LGBT” wherever they find it in the statute. No kidding.
Needless to say, Courage Campaign, its members and all of you worked hard to keep this off the ballot the first time. They failed, in no small part due to everyone pulling together and telling the truth about what the FAIR Education Act does. Let’s do it again!
It you’re new to Prop8TrialTracker, you can find all our coverage here on the blog regarding the FAIR Education Act and efforts to protect it by clicking here.
Below the click, you can find Courage Campaign’s statement on today’s news.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: November 17, 2011
Courage Campaign Vows to Defeat New Challenge to California’s FAIR Education Act
Denounces a second effort to place the measure on the ballot
Los Angeles – Today, right-wing, homophobic organizations requested title and summary from California Attorney General Kamala Harris for a November 2012 ballot initiative to repeal the FAIR Education Act. In response, Courage Campaign made the following statement:
“The FAIR Education Act is about one thing and one thing only: that historical contributions of all people matter, regardless of who they are,” said Adam Bink, Courage Campaign’s Director of Online Programs. “Students should be able to learn about the historical contributions of Walt Whitman, Oscar Wilde, and tennis legend Billie Jean King. Our history books should include the movement to repeal “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and the Stonewall Riots. All of these people and moments are critical to the diversity that made California and our nation great, and students deserve to learn about all of them, not have them banned from classrooms.”
The FAIR Education Act is a law taking effect in January which requires schools to integrate factual information about social movements, current events and history of people of color, people with disabilities and LGBT people into existing social studies lessons. It also prevents schools from adopting instructional materials that discriminate. The same organizations previously tried and failed to submit the required 504,760 signatures by October 12th to place the measure on the ballot for a referendum. Courage Campaign and its more than 750,000 members worked to tell the truth about the FAIR Education Act throughout the state during the signature-gathering effort and helped convince voters that the law should remain.
Additionally, during the signature gathering process, the Courage Campaign found numerous instances of signatures gatherers misrepresenting the law’s intent. On September 30, Courage Campaign joined member Max Disposti in filing a formal ethics complaint against a “Stop SB 48″ campaign signature gatherer in Oceanside, California. The complaint was filed with the California Attorney General, Office of the District Attorney and Oceanside City Attorney, citing California Elections Code, Section 18600, which covers giving out false information in an attempt to collect signatures. The video can be found here.
On October 4, 2011, another signature gatherer in Dinuba, California was videotaped lying about the new law in an effort to obtain signatures.
Stop SB 48 advocates are also being investigated by the Fair Political Practices Commission for multiple violations of the Political Reform Act during the signature gathering process.
Courage Campaign has been working to defend the FAIR Education Act as part of a broad coalition that includes people of faith, labor organizations, LGBT groups, disability rights advocates, racial justice organizations and many more who care about equality.
Courage Campaign is a multi-issue online organizing network that empowers more than 750,000 grassroots and netroots supporters to work for progressive change and full equality in California and across the country. Through a one-of-a-kind online tool called Testimony: Take A Stand, the Courage Campaign is chronicling the sights, sounds and stories of LGBT families and all who wage a daily struggle against discrimination across America. For more information about Testimony, please visit, http://www.