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They’re back: Opponents of FAIR Education Act start process for 2012 ballot initiative

FAIR Education Act

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.

Courage Campaign

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,


  • 1. Alan_Eckert  |  November 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    Gotta keep my eyes peeled for signature gatherers!

  • 2. nextgenformarriage  |  November 17, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    their signatures will end up online (here I'm uploading Full List of Anti-Gay-Marriage Ref. 71 Signers, you can download all with picasa

  • 3. juliecason (JC)  |  November 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Well, that animus is just downright buck nekkid, ain't it?

  • 4. mcc  |  November 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Meanwhile, we're doing nothing whatsoever about repealing prop 8. Because they care about stopping equal rights, and we don't care about defending them. Oh, but hey, maybe in five or six years the lawsuit will reach the supreme court!

  • 5. Alan_Eckert  |  November 17, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    Please pay attention to the upsides and downsides of both options (court vs ballot). You cannot say that we don't care about defending our rights, because they are not just defending, but are on the offense via this court case. We are using what people do and say against the law, and hope that it will have national implications.

  • 6. DaveP  |  November 17, 2011 at 3:16 pm

    Anybody who thinks we're doing nothing to repeal Prop 8 hasn't been paying attention. For starters, this trial is a masive effort, it's not just a couple of guys in a courthouse once every few months. There has been a huge staff of people at various law firms and an army of volunteers working on this. And aside from the trial, there has been constant activity to get the issue into the press and in front of the public to educate folks in the movable middle, and the results have really been paying off. In just a couple of years the polls have shifted so that for the first time in history a majority of Americans now understand the issue and they agree that LGBT Americans are entitled to equal civil marriage rights. Plus all of the organizing and counterprotests at NOMs bus tours which were a huge success, etc.

    I personally volunteered a TON of my time before the 2008 election to try to stop Prop 8 and I have continued to do so since then to work to end Prop 8. I have also donated a lot of my own money to the cause. And I know that others have done a helluva lot more than me. I'll assume that you have too.

  • 7. fiona64  |  November 17, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    Yeah, it's nice to know that all of the time I spent leafleting in malls, donating, etc., was "nothing." Oh, and so was being threatened with physical violence for refusing to remove a "No on 8" sign from my own goddamned lawn, and having to involve law enforcement because of being stalked by a Prop 8 supporter. @@

  • 8. Paul  |  November 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    I don't think the comment was meant to be disrespectful of the work that volunteers are doing. I think it's mostly a frustration that there isn't more movement. The truth is, that there isn't going to be a concerted effort unless there is a ballot initiative. We also aren't learning anything about organizing an effective campaign by not having a campaign. Truth is, even in 2009, there were ballot initiatives that polled at 60% of CA. We passed up the opportunity to mount a repeal in 2010 because "the leaders" said 2012 was likely to be a better date. Well, now it's 2012, and we hear that it's still not a good time. It's never a good time to put civil rights up to a vote, but that's the world we live in. Waiting for the bigots to die, isn't a very good rallying cry, but that's exactly what we are being presented with (other than putting all our eggs into the basket that's headed to the supreme court)

  • 9. mcc  |  November 17, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    What I feel like is that all the work *I* as a volunteer did was wasted when this lawsuit started up and all the 2012 ballot initiative campaigns just sort of shut down. Why were we leafletting and canvasing and all this for all those YEARS if in the end we were just gonna sit down and give up and wait for the hyperconservative, Republican supreme court to swoop in and save us?

    I also feel like I'd be able to take Alan's "upsides and downsides of the approaches" argument more seriously if we were actually still doing both approaches. We're not. Somehow one of the approaches is dead and the other one is all we're working on and none of this "moving the middle" counts for anything, because the middle isn't going to be involved in whether prop 8 maybe goes away, it will be nine people in Washington D.C. some indeterminate number of years from now.

    And the hilarious thing is we're not maybe even getting away from the big statewide ballot box campaign everyone was so quick to run away from, because as we see in this article the bigots know how to file for a ballot proposition even if we don't. Except now if there's a 2012 ballot campaign, we'll be on the defensive rather than the offensive and it will be over relative minutae (lip service in elementary school textbooks, really, we'll go to the mat for this but not for marriage?) instead of things that matter…

  • 10. Sheryl_Carver  |  November 17, 2011 at 8:03 pm

    IANAL, but did you notice what happened to LCR's lawsuit re: DADT? Once DADT became history, the verdict overturning DADT went into the legal trashbin! After all the work that has gone into having Prop 8 ruled unConstitutional, IF we were able to get Marriage Equality back again, legislatively or via initiative, I can just see SCOTUS ruling that EVERYTHING related to the Prop 8 trial is now moot. And, like DADT, our civil rights would once more be vulnerable to future legislative or (in CA) initiative action.

    I would have loved to see the D-Is lose on the standing issue, because there are real people who NEED the protection marriage affords now, not in 2013. But I think that, hard as it is, given the way things are, we should let the Prop 8 saga play out.

  • 11. AnonyGrl  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Part 1

    It ALL matters. The way we win the marriage fight is through education. We educate people who know nothing aobut the issue as to what is going on. We educate kids that equality is better than discrimination. We educate people who oppose marriage equality by showing that we are the same as they. We do this daily, in the press, in the courts, in the legislatures, in our daily lives, and now can look forward to doing so in classrooms.

    That is not nothing, that is HUGE. Kids learn tolerance or they don't. Adults find it much harder to shake the prejudices they learned when they were younger.

  • 12. AnonyGrl  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:14 am

    Part 2

    There is a powerful song from the musical "South Pacific", the lyrics of which are:

    You've got to be taught
    To hate and fear,
    You've got to be taught
    From year to year,
    It's got to be drummed
    In your dear little ear
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught to be afraid
    Of people whose eyes are oddly made,
    And people whose skin is a diff'rent shade,
    You've got to be carefully taught.

    You've got to be taught before it's too late,
    Before you are six or seven or eight,
    To hate all the people your relatives hate,
    You've got to be carefully taught!

    But the reverse is also true… you can be taught that all that hate is wrong, and only if THAT happens will we EVER win this fight. SB48 may only be a tip of that iceberg, but it is one that is of as much importance as Prop 8 if we are ever to achieve equality.

  • 13. Alan_Eckert  |  November 17, 2011 at 2:36 pm

    They quite literally want to strike out the words "lesbian, gay bisexual, and transgender Americans" and "sexual orientation."

  • 14. Gregory in SLC  |  November 17, 2011 at 8:24 pm

    So indescribably absurd.

    In middle of watching "Paris is Burning". The story of beautiful people creating their own successes and acknowledgement through competitions called "Balls". 13 year olds on the street who have no idea who their parents are (sometimes because their biological families kick them out of the house for being LGBTQQI) they consider the drag queens and other creative persons their Mothers, Fathers, sisters, brothers, cousins… These most FABULOUS people are part of our history, our U.S. culture too. F.U. NOM and opponents of the fair education act.

  • 15. Paul  |  November 17, 2011 at 2:58 pm

    I have to believe that this doesn't stand a shred of a chance of passing "strict scrutiny" in a court of law. I wonder if the AG will even accept it. At the very least the title is going to be revised to "An act to strike lesbian, gay bisexual and transgender Americans" from the FAIR Education Act. Any lawyers out there that want to weigh in?

  • 16. veritasfiles  |  November 17, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    So, their banner argument of "It costs too much" is totally moot now. If the law is allowed to be implemented with the addition of disabled people but not LGBT people, the textbooks will STILL have to be replaced eventually, new materials added, old materials thrown out, etc.

    Their true intentions (animus towards gay, lesbian, and transgender people) are so transparent now for EVERYONE to see, and they won't have any smokescreen to hide behind this time.


  • 17. TomTallis  |  November 17, 2011 at 3:46 pm

    Why June? I thought that all initiatives had to appear only on November ballots in even numbered years. What suddenly changed?

  • 18. Adam Bink  |  November 17, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    It hasn't changed. Where do you see June?

  • 19. Sagesse  |  November 17, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    Watching for the bags of money from NOM to fund this go 'round.

  • 20. Be4marriage  |  November 17, 2011 at 7:25 pm

    Given Brian Browns desperate pleas for money, I think the bags of money are running low for NOM these days. They could only scrounge for 30K to get Iowa to vote on marriage.

  • 21. sfbob  |  November 17, 2011 at 7:42 pm

    These folks are incredibly stupid. What they're proposing is patently unconstitutional and will readily be found so. Of course, it may not gain enough signatures and, if it does, it may not make the ballot. If it does, it may very well not pass. But if it does, it's absolutely guaranteed to be tossed, based on Roemer v Evans.

  • 22. Bryce  |  November 17, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Way off topic, but I am confused about one of the briefs that was filed in regards to the appeal of Judge Ware's decision to release the video tapes. Accordingly, I have a question for Kathleen (or anyone else with a JD):
    In their opening brief, the proponents make their key argument that the common-law right of access is easily disposed by Rule 77-3. In order to support this claim, they ague that
    "The common-law right of access is just that—a judge-made, common-law rule. It “is not absolute,” Nixon, 435 U.S. at 598, and, like every common-law rule, Case: 11-17255 11/14/2011 ID: 7965216 DktEntry: 31 Page: 36 of 62 it may be displaced by statute, rule, or other positive enactment, see, e.g., In re Roman Catholic Archbishop, 2011 WL 5304130, at *10-*11; Center for Nat’l Sec. Studies v. U.S. DOJ, 331 F.3d 918, 937 (D.C. Cir. 2003); United States v. Gonzales, 150 F.3d 1246, 1263 (10th Cir. 1998)."
    However, if you read Nixon v. Warner Communications, what it REALLY says is this:
    "The common law right to inspect and copy judicial records is not absolute, but the decision whether to permit access is best left to the sound discretion of the trial court, a discretion to be exercised in light of the relevant facts and circumstances of the particular case."
    So, I interpret this to mean that the common-law right may not be absolute, but the person who gets to decide when it applies is the trial judge, and that decision should be deferred to. In that case, 1) does that not support the plaintiffs claim for a clear error standard of review, as opposed to the proponents argument for a de novo review, and 2) does that not mean that the Ninth Circuit should–in any event–leave Judge Ware's decision undisturbed?
    I suppose that the proponents would argue that Judge Walker's promise, and Rule 77-3, are relevant considerations, but even in light of that, it seems to me that the point remains that a decision made assuming those–but not in agreement with them–is still due considerable deference by the Circuit Court.

  • 23. AnonyGrl  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:19 am

    IANAL, but It looks like you may have answered your own question. Careful MISQUOTING can make a ruling seem to mean the opposite of what it does, and if you say it with what seems to be enough authority, sometimes you get away with it.

  • 24. Ronnie  |  November 18, 2011 at 10:23 am

    They are ingrates…. subscribing & sharing……

    – ACT officially supports gay marriage:

    "The ACT Legislative Assembly has passed a motion calling on the Commonwealth to amend the laws to allow same-sex marriage."

    "Momentum for change continues to grow as more and more Australians agree that the time has come to amend the Marriage Act to remove the discrimination that currently exists," said Greens MLA Shane Rattenbury.

    – Chris Armstrong Announces U. of Michigan Scholarship Fund for Students Who Have Faced Bullying: VIDEO:

    "In a new YouTube video, Chris Armstrong, the gay former student body President at the University of Michigan who was harassed and bullied by assistant attorney general Andrew Shirvell in a highly-publicized story last year, announces that he and his family have set up a special scholarship fund at the U. of M for students who have faced bullying."

    [youtube KpQvlOG7b3g youtube]

  • 25. Prop 8 Trial Tracker &raq&hellip  |  November 20, 2011 at 2:43 pm

    […] team representing the plaintiffs on a press call. You can find that coverage here. Later that day, we got word that opponents of California’s FAIR Education Act filed for title and summary from the […]

  • 26. Derek Williams  |  November 21, 2011 at 3:22 pm

    When I was a kid, I was given to believe that homosexuals were dirty old men in raincoats. When I was a teenager, I discovered to my horror that I was a homosexual.

    I had no idea that any good person could be a homosexual. History was taught, and it mentioned famous blacks like Martin Luther King, Nat King Cole, but while Alan Turing was mentioned as having been the father of the modern computer, saviour of Britain through the cracking of the Enigma code, I had not the slightest idea he was 'one of us'. We listened to the masterpieces of the Russian composer, Tchaikowsky, never once realising he was homosexual, same goes for the likes of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, venerated into eternity by billions, yet oppressed by the very religion that commissioned their masterworks. That these great geniuses were homosexual was never once allowed to permeate our consciousness.

    The list is absolutely vast, yet entirely concealed from today's youth, who homophobic religions want to persist in calling anyone they want to bully, a "faggot". We're just not angry enough at our exclusion from history.

    If Big Brother succeed in erasing our contribution from history, at least let the kids see this page:,_lesbian

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