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social sciences

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Equality California (EQCA)  
 
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Marriage Equality

In 2004, the Institute integrated two groups into its organization: Marriage Equality California (MECA), a statewide grassroots organization with a membership of over 50,000 activists and volunteers, and the California Freedom to Marry Coalition. The goal is to increase the civic participation of glbtq Californians in the public dialogue over glbtq rights.

During the battle for marriage equality in the golden state, there were 23 volunteer chapters of EQCA throughout the state whose primary focus was marriage equality. The chapters held monthly meetings in order to disseminate information and plan community activities in order to put a face to the issues.

Sponsor Message.

EQCA PAC

EQCA PAC endorses candidates and supports their campaigns through volunteers and donations in order to expand the number of glbtq-supportive legislators in California. In the 2004 election cycle, over 85% of Equality California-endorsed candidates won their races.

[Proposition 8

In the summer of 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage in the state was unconstitutional. The result of that ruling was to legalize same-sex marriage. Thousands of Californians, as well as numerous out-of-state couples, soon flocked to the city halls and courthouses to apply for marriage licenses.

The euphoria over the court victory and the new marriages soon gave way to concern when it became obvious that the opponents of same-sex marriage had qualified an amendment to the state constitution limiting marriage to a union of one man and one woman.

Equality California took a lead role in organizing the campaign against the amendment, known as Proposition 8. Although the organization succeeded in raising huge amounts of money to oppose Proposition 8, the campaign itself was widely perceived as tepid and ineffective. The proposition was narrowly approved in November 2008.

After the loss at the ballot box, Equality California was roundly criticized for running an inept campaign that did a poor job in reaching out to minority communities and countering the misinformation and fear-mongering of the opponents of same-sex marriage.

The campaign even failed to use a letter from Presidential candidate Barrack Obama opposing Proposition 8. Obama, who carried the state overwhelmingly, declared his opposition to "the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states." Considering Obama's popularity in the state, especially among minorities, the failure to use this letter, while the proponents of Proposition 8 were trumpeting the opposition to same-sex marriage of both Obama and his Republican opponent John McCain, has baffled many observers.

New Leadership

Geoff Kors is widely credited for its spectacular record in achieving legislative victories. In 2011, for example, the legislature passed and Governor Brown signed the FAIR Education Act, which requires public schools to include the achievements of glbt people in the curriculum.

In 2011, however, Kors also decided to step down as Executive Director. After an exhaustive search ECQA's Board of Directors announced on May 16, 2011 that Kors was to be succeeded by Roland Palencia, an activist who had served as Community Benefits Director for L. A. Health Care Plan and, before that, as Vice President and Chief of Operations of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation.

However, Palencia served for only 3 months before leaving for "personal reasons." Despite his statement that his decision to leave was his own, others attributed the decision to a fractious relationship with Board Members.

After more than a year in which the organization was run by caretakers and seemed to lack a sense of direction, EQCA experienced a steep decline in donations and consequently was forced to reduce the staff. When John O'Connor was selected as Executive Director in December 2012, the organization was widely regarded as broken.

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