Lambda Warns Californians about 'Deceptive' Anti-Gay Ballot Measure

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With less than one week to go, fairminded Californians are urged to vote
March 2, 2000

(LOS ANGELES, March 2, 2000) — Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund is warning California voters that Proposition 22 is a deceptive and divisive ballot measure that could well undermine crucial civil rights protections for lesbians and gay men throughout the state.

“Proposition 22 is a cruel slap at lesbians and gay men and their families. It is deceptive, divisive, and is likely to be turned into a weapon against our community,” said Jennifer C. Pizer, managing attorney of Lambda’s Western Regional Office in Los Angeles and a board member of the No On Knight campaign. “Discrimination is out of step with the fairminded voters of California,” Pizer said of the ballot measure sponsored by archconservative state Senator Pete Knight.

If passed, the deceptively simple measure on Tuesday’s ballot would, for the first time in state history, limit which out-of-state marriages would be recognized in California. No state currently allows same-sex couples to wed, but should this change in the future, the Knight Initiative would force California for the first time to discriminate against some legal marriages by denying the recognition and protections given to others.

Pointing out that anti-gay groups have used similar anti-marriage laws in other states to undermine gay families, domestic partner legislation and anti-discrimination protections, Pizer said, “It is imperative that all Californians who believe in equality and human dignity get to the voting booths on March 7."

Lambda Supervising Attorney Jon W. Davidson said, “Time and time again, we have seen anti-gay groups exploit anti-marriage laws to erode crucial civil rights for lesbians and gay men. At the heart of the Knight Initiative lies a hidden agenda of discrimination – one that is anathema to all Californians’ sense of fairness.”

“Small wonder that usually virulent anti-gay politicians like Knight himself have kept out of sight during this campaign,” Davidson noted. “Those behind this measure are trying to hide what is really at stake.”

California was the first state in the country to overturn its ban on interracial marriages, nearly two decades before the United States Supreme Court finally struck down all anti-miscegenation laws.

Officially known as the Limit on Marriages Initiative, Proposition 22 has been rejected by all of the state’s major newspapers, and strongly criticized by Knight’s own son, a gay veteran of the Persian Gulf War.

Because of its potential to harm gay and lesbian Californians, Proposition 22 also has drawn opposition ranging broadly from Vice President Al Gore, Senators Bill Bradley, Dianne Feinstein, and Barbara Boxer, Governor Gray Davis and Assembly Speaker Antonio Villagrosa, all Democrats, as well as Republicans Congressman Tom Campbell, San Diego Mayor Susan Golding and the California Republican League, in addition to the non-partisan League of Women Voters of California.

Lambda, founded in 1973, is headquartered in New York. In Los Angeles, its Western Regional Office is now marking its 10th anniversary. Lambda also has a Midwest Regional Office in Chicago and a Southern Regional Office in Atlanta.


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CONTACT: Jennifer C. Pizer 323-937-2728, ext. 223, or Peg Byron 212-809-8585 or 888-987-1984 (pager)

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