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Gay activists target Knight initiative

Gay rights activists plan to “take on and take out” California’s
“Knight inititiative,” which would define marriage as being between a
man and a woman, saying it threatens current and future homosexual
rights measures in the state.

The 14-word “Definition of Marriage initiative,” sponsored by State
Sen. William J. “Pete” Knight, R-Palmdale, states: “Only marriage
between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in the state of
California.” Also called the “Protection of Marriage initiative,” the
controversial measure will be placed on the March 7, 2000, ballot, the
same day California voters go to the polls to vote in the presidential

David Elliott, communications director for the National Gay and
Lesbian Task Force, told WorldNetDaily, “We see it as a potential threat
to additional gay and lesbian rights measures. For example, California
communities are passing domestic partners benefits all over the place.
Is this initiative going to be used to threaten those new policies?”

“No,” answered Robert Glazier, communications director for the
Protection of Marriage Committee.
“Californians are very proud and rightfully so of our tradition of being
very tolerant of the diverse range of lifestyles, cultures and
backgrounds,” Glazier said. “This campaign continues to build on our
diversity by not affecting any of the rights which any of the homosexual
community has gathered already. It doesn’t take away domestic
partnership benefits or anything else.”

The measure also does not affect the half dozen pieces of gay rights
legislation Gov. Gray Davis recently signed, Glazier added.

Homosexual activists aren’t impressed, despite Glazier’s assurances.
At the NGLTF’s Creating Change conference to be held in Oakland, Calif.,
Nov. 10-14, Elliott said the primary focus will be to “take on and take
out” the initiative.

“Just about every single topic that relates to gay and lesbian,
bisexual and transgender people is going to be covered,” said Elliot of
the conference. “Yet, if you were to isolate one theme that will
permeate through this year’s Creating Change conference, it will be the
Knight Initiative.”

Defending the measure, Glazier said more than 700,000 Californians
signed petitions to get the initiative on the ballot.

“We’ve already been very proactive,” said Glazier. “I can’t tell you
how many thousands of people have gone door to door. They’re already
doing the grass-roots thing.”

California already defines marriage exclusively as between a man and
a woman, and grants marriage licenses only to heterosexual couples.
However, a loophole in the law says California will recognize any type
of marriage that takes place in one of the other states.

“Californians should have the right to define marriage for themselves
and not have some judges in Hawaii or Vermont deciding what marriage
should be recognized here,” said Glazier.

Glazier told WorldNetDaily the current issue surrounding the measure
has a wide range of support from different parts of society.
Christians, Jews, Mormons, Muslims and Hindus are all supporting the
measure, he said, noting that support is strongest among minorities.

“If you want a rainbow coalition, no one will have as diverse a
coalition as this campaign by the time March comes around,” Glazier
said. And what plans does the NGLTF have to “take out” this initiative?

“Organize, organize, organize,” said Elliot. “One of the things
we’re going to be doing at the conference is training people to walk
through precincts and canvas voters at their doorsteps and identify
which voters are with us, which voters are undecided, and which voters
are against us.”

Elliot said the supportive voters will get a number of calls before
election day and on election day urging them to go to the polls. The
undecided voters, Elliot continued, will get additional literature as
well as follow-up calls.

“This is all about a grass-roots mobilization effort which is how you
really win or lose elections,” said Elliot. “I mean, a lot of people
think elections are won or lost on TV or in direct mail or in the
newspapers, but the importance of grass-roots organizing knocking on
every door in every precinct cannot be understated.”

The Federal Defense of Marriage Act confirms the right of each state
to determine its own laws on same-gender marriage and was signed in 1996
by President Bill Clinton.

In defense of marriage, Davis said last year in San Francisco during
a gubernatorial debate: “I do not believe this state (California) is
ready for gay marriages or same gender marriages. And if someone put a
bill on my desk today to sign such a measure, I would not sign it.”

Julio Calderon, former state and national president for the
Mexican-American Political Association, also spoke out for the
traditional marriage between one man and one woman, saying, “Now more
than ever, we need to re-affirm the importance of Mom and Dad in our
children’s lives. By saying ‘yes’ to marriage between a man and a woman,
we are saying ‘yes’ to our families’ future.”

Commenting on the homosexual grass-roots movement against the measure,
Glazier said, “To be quite honest, the real story in so much of this
campaign ought to be about the unbelievable intolerance from the other
side that has preached tolerance all the time.”

“I feel very confident saying that (the initiative) will be the
largest grass-roots (effort) ever undertaken in American politics,”
Glazier said of the measure.

Corporate sponsors of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s
“Creating Change” conference are: Pacific Bell, Wells Fargo Foundation,
Gay.com, PlanetOut, HERO Magazine, Harvey Milk Institute, BREATH — The
California Smoke-Free Bar Program/ A Statewide Project of the American
Lung Association, the Advocate, and Olivia Cruises and Resorts.
American Airlines is listed as the official carrier for the conference.