LOS ANGELES - The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign today announced they would donate up to $100,000 each as a challenge to raise $1 million by Labor Day to fight a proposed California constitutional amendment that seeks to eliminate all legal rights and protections for same-sex couples and their families, including domestic partnerships and equal marriage rights. The two organizations said that together they would match $1 for every $4 raised through Labor Day to fight the amendment, up to $200,000. Leaders of California's progressive organizations said they are confident they can take full advantage of the challenge and raise the $800,000.
The $200,000 challenge grant is the first large financial commitment to the newly launched Equality for All Coalition, an unprecedented alliance of more than 200 religious, labor and civil rights organizations from throughout California that will lead the campaign to defeat the initiative. The amendment is likely to be on the ballot in June 2006.
"Defeating this initiative is about ensuring equality for all California families and preserving California's leadership on fairness for its GLBT citizens," said Joe Solmonese, president of HRC. "The unity and resolve of the coalition against this discriminatory and ugly initiative are unprecedented."
"We know that it's going to take a huge amount of money and intense organizing to defeat this hurtful and immoral initiative," says Matt Foreman, the Task Force's executive director. "This is too important and we can neither afford to lose nor wait another day."
"We are confident that if we can get the truth out about this extreme anti-gay, anti-single parent, anti-family amendment, California voters will reject it," says Geoffrey Kors, executive director of Equality California. "This generous challenge from the Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign will definitely help us start that process."
"The fight against the proposed constitutional amendment is going to be a tough one. We've lost in the past because our opponents have been better organized and better funded that we were, and they got started earlier," says Lorri L. Jean, chief executive officer of the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center. "This national support is the leverage we need to go toe-to-toe with the anti-gay forces who would deny us our equal rights."
"The challenge is going to help us get up and running quickly - and will help spur other donations to the campaign," says Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. "We welcome the leadership of our national partners in helping us get the resources we need."
Sponsors of the anti-marriage amendment, known as the Voters Right to Protect Marriage Initiative, must submit nearly 600,000 voter signatures to the California secretary of state to qualify the measure for the June 2006 ballot. Amendment proponents have said they need to raise $1 million immediately to gather the necessary signatures.
Contributions to the campaign may be made at www.eqca.org/equalityforall.
As drafted, in addition to precluding marriage equality for same-sex couples, the anti-marriage amendment would deny health insurance to thousands of California families, including single parents and their children. It would also remove all legal protections guaranteed under California's comprehensive domestic partnership law and strip the courts, cities, towns and other government entities of any ability to protect California families other than married couples.
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