Equality California, one of the leaders of same-sex marriage efforts in the state, is now pushing for a ballot measure in 2012 as opposed to 2010.

One of their chief reasons: Money. Many well-heeled donors, including those in Hollywood, are skeptical of having enough time and resources to invest in a "yes" campaign, despite the grassroots energy that turned out to protest the passage of Proposition 8.

Their marriage director, Marc Solomon, says in a blog post that "many of our community’s most generous donors want to ensure that their contributions to win back marriage are wisely invested to create the best opportunity to win marriage back and have indicated support for a three-year education and political effort and are opposed to a 2010 campaign." He also notes that "what we’ve found on the ground is that changing the hearts and minds of Californians that do not currently support marriage for same-sex couples is slow-going but doable."

But other groups are still pushing for 2010. The Courage Campaign, led by Rick Jacobs, helped coordinate an appearance on Sunday by Steve Hildebrand, former deputy campaign manager of Barack Obama's presidential campaign, who urged them to pursue the 2010 date. In an effort to show some financial viability, Courage Campaign also announced that they had raised more than $77,000 in 24 hours for research and polling on repealing Prop 8.

The fact that they raised money from small-donors in a short period of time, and merely for research, is a "huge statement," Jacobs said. But he said that it is a first step in a long process of going forward with a 2010 initiative. Signatures would have to be collected by next spring to qualify for a November ballot.

"We are quite a ways off from getting this done. We want to do it, but we got a lot of work ahead of us. …All we can do is take it a step at a time."

How much would a "Yes" campaign cost? Estimates I have heard range from $40 million to $60 million.

Update: Another factor in the equation have been the state's cutbacks in care and services for those with HIV and AIDS, creating further demands on nonprofits to raise money from donors.


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