Robert's Virtual Soapbox

(or, The Sanctimonious Professional Leftist's Blog)
FEBRUARY 13, 2012 9:45PM

Love Honor Cherish breaks its marriage vow

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Updated below (on Tuesday, February 14, 2012)

No wonder we struggle for same-sex-marriage rights: The organizations that are supposed to be looking out for our interests are in such fucking disarray.

On January 6, 2012, I received an e-mail from the California-based pro-same-sex-marriage organization Love Honor Cherish. The subject line of the fundraising e-mail was “Now it’s our time.”

“It’s our time. Please support our campaign to put repeal of Prop 8 on the ballot this November 6th,” reads a link in that e-mail that, when you click it, still takes you to Love Honor Cherish’s fundraising page on the left-leaning fundraising website ActBlue.com. The e-mail concludes:

“It is our time. Waiting to do the right thing when we can win this November is just wrong. It’s not fair to gay and lesbian couples and their children.

“Join us and forward this email to your friends and family. Let’s win back marriage equality at the ballot box on November 6th.”

The e-mail bears the electronic signature of Eric Harrison, Love Honor Cherish’s “interim executive director.”

I was thrilled. California’s pro-same-sex-marriage groups have been too pussy to try to get the issue of same-sex marriage back on the ballot after the passage of Proposition H8.

Based upon this e-mail, I agreed to give Love Honor Cherish $20 a month for four months via ActBlue.com.

But today, I received an e-mail from Love Honor Cherish, also under Eric Harrison’s electronic signature, with the subject line of “Cherish Truth.”

The e-mail announces, in part:

Following last week’s victory in the 9th Circuit, we are now hopeful that weddings of gay and lesbian couples will resume by the end of this year, or even, at the end of this month. And what an incredible day that will be when gays and lesbians are able to marry again in California!

In the meantime, our “backup plan” to put the repeal of Prop 8 on the ballot this November is no longer feasible. Although we have had success so far – our wonderful volunteers, significant donor commitments, our campaign office, and support from numerous leaders and organizations around the state – collecting the 807,615 valid signatures required will likely not happen by mid-April as required to qualify for the November 2012 ballot.

We would need more than $1.5 million in donor commitments to hire a paid signature gathering firm to assist us in this massive effort. In view of the 9th Circuit victory and the narrowness of the ruling, making Supreme Court review less likely, raising the additional funds needed is now not realistic. And, as we have stated, we had no illusions that the initiative could qualify based solely on our statewide volunteer signature gathering effort.

Bullshit.

Nothing in the January 6 fundraising e-mail said anything about the ballot effort being a “backup plan.” And there is no guarantee that as a result of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal’s recent ruling that Prop H8 is unconstitutional that same-sex marriages will resume in California any day soon.

The only sure way to overturn Prop H8 right now would be another ballot effort to amend California’s Constitution to allow same-sex marriage – and such a ballot effort, if successful, also would destroy the right-wing haters’ argument that the majority of the people (Californians, at least) don’t want to allow same-sex marriage. (Indeed, to my knowledge, every time that same-sex marriage has been put up to a vote in a state, it has failed. [Polls show that same-sex marriage would pass in California today, however.])  

I get it that getting anything on the statewide California ballot is a gargantuan effort. Indeed, to amend the state’s Constitution does take more than 800,000 qualifying signatures.

However, to put out a fundraising e-mail promising to go forward with the effort, and then, just one month and one week later to announce that the effort is not “feasible” or “realistic” – about two months before the signature-gathering deadline has arrived — is grossly irresponsible at best and fraudulent at worst.

Love Honor Cherish got $40 of my money — only because I believed Love Honor Cherish’s promise to go forward with the effort to put same-sex marriage back on the California ballot. (I stopped any future monthly donations today after I received the organization’s quitter in chief’s e-mail.)

How much money did Love Honor Cherish raise, I wonder, from people like me who were excited to see that the organization was going to fight for our equal human and civil rights?

Today I e-mailed Eric Harrison, in part, “when people trust you with their money and you then renege on your promise, it does not do your organization’s reputation any good.”

He replied, in part, “We did not renege on our promise, Robert. You only fight for what’s right if you’re guaranteed victory?”

WTF?

You stop the effort two months before the signature-gathering deadline? That is a good-faith effort?

Of course I knew that victory wasn’t guaranteed. Of course I knew that after the total of $80 that I would have donated, the effort might fall short of the signatures needed. I was willing to take that risk.

But why even fucking start the effort only to announce a month and a week later that it’s too much to be able to accomplish?

Eric Harrison should step down.

In the meantime, today I mailed a complaint against Love Honor Cherish to the California Attorney General’s Office. Again, I believe that the organization’s actions have been grossly irresponsible at best, but probably in violation of California state law as well.

It’s bad enough to be fucked over by the enemy. To be screwed over by your own, however, is intolerable.

Updated (Tuesday, February 14, 2012): To clarify the timeline on this issue, the California Secretary of State’s Office cleared Love Honor Cherish to start collecting petition signatures on December 15, 2011. The January 6, 2012, fundraising e-mail came out less than a month after that.

So, given that Love Honor Cherish could start collecting signatures on December 15 and then announced on February 13 that it couldn’t possibly be done, that means that Love Honor Cherish didn’t stick with the effort even for a full two months.

Also, despite Eric Harrison’s e-mail claim that the signature-collection deadline is in “mid-April,” according to the Secretary of State’s Office, the deadline for the signatures to be submitted actually is May 14, 2012.

So: Love Honor Cherish gave up on the effort a full three months before the deadline.

Again: Eric Harrison should step down. Now.

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Comments

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While I share your frustration, I think you are being terribly unfair to Eric. The level of optimism for a complete victory in the Perry case is not realistic but the people with the money share it. No money, no signature gatherers. And no money NOW means we can't hire them in time to collect over a million signatures by the end of April. Eric has been working tirelessly for the past two months and big donors have continued to be reticent to donate. After the Ninth's Circuit decision, they are flat out refusing. I firmly believe Prop 8 would have been history in 2010 if the community had come together and the institutional actors would have put aside their egos and interests aside. Now we have to wait for the US Supreme Court to weigh in, a scary prospect given that this is the court that gave us Citizens United. If the court is true to its very conservative bent, we will have to start this process all over again, and probably not in time for the 2014 ballot. All we can do is pray that the court chooses to leave the 9th circuit’s decision untouched and they do it soon. As for your $40, we will be happy to reimburse you. And as for Eric, he came in on an interim basis and has stayed on even after we ran out of money to pay him. As is true for most of us, he needs to work for a living so he will be moving on.
No, this is basic ethics. If you put out a fundraising e-mail promising to fight to get something on the ballot, and you take people's money based upon that promise, you don't call it quits three months before your deadline.

Again, the LGBT community is so weak because its "leadership" is so weak.

Again, if it was an insurmountable battle to get same-sex marriage on the ballot again, then Love Honor Cherish should not have started it.

I believe that I'm being more than reasonable and fair, and Love Honor Cherish telling us that it "shares our frustration" and the like doesn't cut it.