Kors: Yes on 8 Campaign's Fishing Expedition: Why We Must Stand Against their Hatred

A guest post on the latest machinations related to Yes on 8.

Yes on 8 Campaign’s Fishing Expedition: Why We Must Stand Against their Hatred

by Geoff Kors, Executive Director, Equality California

It’s happening again: and the Yes on 8 campaign are once again harassing organizations that are working to expand the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. In the federal case against Proposition 8, they are requesting tens of thousands of unrelated documents from three organizations that were involved in the No on 8 campaign – Equality California, the Northern California American Civil Liberties Union and Californians Against Eliminating Basic Rights, the organization through which celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg gave to the campaign.

We have been fighting against this request, and we will continue to do so. We are planning to file an appeal. We have to stand up to the opposition’s attempts to harass us and pull us away from our mission.

The Yes on 8 campaign did not ask for any documents from the No on 8 campaign organization. Instead, they cherry-picked the three organizations from the campaign that they feel are the biggest threat to their anti-equality agenda. None of these three organizations are a party in the case. They are trying to stall our work across the state. They know if they can force EQCA to spend our time weeding through tens of thousands of irrelevant emails and documents to comply with a court order, they can pull us away from changing hearts and minds about the freedom to marry. They can distract us from passing our 15 bills through the legislature this year. They can slow down our progress in electing candidates who are 100 percent for LGBT equality.

What’s more, any information we could possibly give them isn’t actually relevant to the real question of the case. The federal case is about the constitutionality of Prop. 8. If the court finds that the Yes on 8 campaign put Prop. 8 on the ballot out of animus or hatred towards LGBT people, they will rule Prop. 8 to be unconstitutional and overturn it. The motives, ideas and decisions of those who aided the No on 8 campaign will reveal nothing about whether Prop. 8 was put on the ballot as an act of hatred. Our motives are irrelevant to the real question.

Make no mistake: this is a fishing expedition. The Yes on 8 campaign is furiously hunting for every bit of information they can use to try to deny equality. They will use every bit of information they can unearth to try to build their arguments for when the case is appealed to the Ninth Circuit. But it isn’t just about the federal case. They will also use what they learn to prevent us from building support for marriage for same-sex couples and overturning Prop. 8 at the ballot box in 2012 – undermining our chance to show that the people of California really do support fairness and equality under the law.

It’s also about intimidation. The Yes on 8 campaign wants LGBT advocates and our allies to be afraid of getting involved in campaigns, for fear of retaliation. They want to dissuade our donors – including our large, well-known donors from Hollywood – from putting their money behind their convictions. If we let the Yes on 8 campaign and prevail, we run the risk of a nation-wide chilling effect not just on marriage, but on all of our rights.

EQCA has supported the federal case from the very beginning and was the first party to file an amicus brief in support, less than a month after the case was filed. Ted Olson, David Boies and the legal team for the plaintiffs – our side – filed their motions for discovery well before the trial started. But the Yes on 8 campaign’s lawyers deliberately waited until the middle of the trial to file their motions for discovery – causing weeks of delay.

We haven’t given in to the demands of or the Yes on 8 campaign before, and we will not give in to them now. All of their actions against us and against the LGBT community – including Prop. 8 – are driven by hatred and fear. As a community, we have to stand strong against them.

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