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Defending Fundamental Rights and Equal Protection for All Californians: 10 Ways Lawyers Can Fight to Defeat Proposition 8 and Preserve Marriage Rights

Proposition 8 is the November statewide ballot initiative that aims to rewrite the constitution by treating same-gender couples differently by taking away their right to marry. In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have a right to marry in this state. The right to marry is a fundamental right afforded by the state constitution. Civil rights groups, academics, business and religious leaders, and elected officials throughout California and beyond oppose Prop 8.

Why this issue is important to lawyers.

Lawyers in particular are critical to this effort, given their understanding of the urgent need to safeguard our state constitution and to protect the well-reasoned decisions of the California Supreme Court.

The State of California needs your help.

Defeating Prop 8 will require thousands of people working together across California to educate and rally voters to Vote No on Prop 8. Here are 10 concrete steps that you can take to help defeat this harmful initiative. By doing even one thing on this list, you will make a difference.

1. Plan a Workshop on "No on Prop 8":
Train your members on how to use their influence as leaders within your community to help defeat Prop 8. The Bar Association of San Francisco (BASF) is sponsoring "No on Proposition 8 - A Leadership Workshop" on September 11 at 4:00 p.m. More information.

2. Sign an endorsement against Prop 8:
Urge your bar association and law firm/company to sign an endorsement against Prop 8 . The campaign needs a broad range of support from businesses and legal organizations. No organization is too small!

Ask your bar association and other professional groups to support the BASF/BALIF-sponsored marriage fairness resolution, to be introduced as an emergency resolution at the Conference of Delegates of California Bar Associations at the California State Bar Annual Meeting in September 2008.

3. Write articles, letters, blogs:
Ask your bar association, law school, and law firm/company to post an article about defeating Prop 8 on the organization's web site and include an article in the organization's newsletter. Write a letter to the editor or an OpEd piece for your local paper, or submit an article to a newsletter or blog to tell everyone in your community why it is important to defeat Prop 8.

For sample Op Eds and website/newsletter articles.

4. Make a financial contribution:
Please join the "Lawyers' Leadership Council for Equality," a group of bar leaders, firms, and legal departments that have pledged their financial support: Contribute now to the No on Prop 8 campaign. The fight to defeat Prop 8 is going to be hard-won. It will take passion, commitment, time, and extensive resources. We need to raise sufficient funds to wage a massive public education effort to convince the majority of Californians, the most populous state in the nation, to Vote No on Prop 8. Every dollar counts! The proponents of Prop 8 have committed to raise $20 million. We need to match them dollar for dollar. Please give as much as you can to the No on Prop 8 campaign today and in the coming weeks. Pledges collected before September are worth twice as much in ad buys. Please urge your firm or company to make a contribution.

Another great way to get others involved in the No on Prop 8 campaign is to host a fundraiser at your firm or house party. A house party tool kit will be available soon at no on Prop 8.

5. Reach out to LGBT groups:
Identify and reach out to LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) groups in your community, and ask them how your bar association can work with them to defeat Prop 8. Building these alliances may be critical to understanding which types of messaging and outreach work best in your community.

6. Become informed:
Inform your members of the constitutional arguments for marriage equality by hosting programs like the following:

  • September 2, 5:30 p.m., "Marriage Equality: What Does it Mean, How Did We Get It, and Will It Last?" sponsored by The Commonwealth Club. For more information and to purchase tickets
  • October 10, 11:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., Minority Bar Coalition 2008 Unity Conference, featuring a panel discussing "The California Marriage Cases." More information
  • October 16, 12:00 p.m., "Second Annual Jurisprudence Luncheon: The Legal Philosophies Behind the California Supreme Court's Marriage Equality Decision," sponsored by BASF's Litigation Section. More information and registration.

7. Stay current with campaign developments:
The campaign is moving fast and the landscape changes every day. Stay up-to-date with the No on Prop 8 campaign by signing up as a supporter, and by signing the Vow to Vote No online petition opposing Prop 8.

8. Join the Equality Business Advisory Council:
Ask your company to join PG&E, AT&T, and other businesses on the Equality Business Advisory Council. The Council is an organization that will challenge and recruit other businesses to join the No on 8 campaign in supporting fairness and equality for all people. For more information contact the No on 8 campaign's Statewide Political Director Yvette Martinez at Yvette@progressivestrategypartners.com .

9. Volunteer for the campaign:
Work with others to educate the public about how Prop 8 harms loving and committed couples across California . This effort takes committed individuals working at the grassroots level, and the campaign needs volunteers at events and phone banks, and to spread the word about Prop 8. To volunteer.

10. Ask 10 people you know to vow to Vote No on Prop 8:
Talk with everyone you know about the fundamental right to marry and make sure your co-workers, friends, family, neighbors, and colleagues know to Vote No on Proposition 8 in November. You have a wide circle of influence, use it! By simply talking to people, you increase awareness about the issue in your community and can help influence public opinion. This is a simple and effective way to help defeat Prop 8. Tell-A-Friend.

This information was prepared by volunteer members of BASF's Marriage Fairness Task Force. For more information about BASF's efforts to fight Prop 8, contact:

Kelly McCown
kelly@mccownevans.com

Merri Baldwin
mbaldwin@chapop.com

Khurshid Khoja
kkhoja@thelen.com

Dan Burkhardt
dburkhardt@sfbar.org

Thank you for your support and involvement in the No on Prop 8 campaign.

Download the Word version of 10 Ways Lawyers Can Fight to Defeat Proposition 8 and Preserve Marriage Right