After Prop 8 passed in November, we at Legal Pad HQ had a hearty debate over whether the No on 8 folks would have fared better if they’d pegged their ad campaign more to real gay couples instead of concepts like fairness and equality. In other words, we
fought over wondered (we're all on the same page, all the time! nothing to see here!) if watching gay married couples act just like straight married couples would have provoked more sympathy or antipathy from California voters on the fence.
Well, we finally saw the commercial we were envisioning this week. Only it wasn’t really a commercial: It was a video attached to an Internet petition that we randomly got in our e-mail, asking the Supreme Court to invalidate Prop 8 when it hears arguments over the initiative.
Rick Jacobs, chairman and founder of the Hollywood-based group behind the petition-video, says the Courage Campaign is aiming to get 200,000 signatures. (Incidentally, Prop 8 passed with about 7 million votes for it, and about 6.4 million against.) We at Legal Pad can’t totally recall, but we think the petition's signature tally was up in the 70,000s when we first saw it on Monday. Yesterday evening, it was in the 130,000s. And as of the lunch hour today, it was topping 160,000.
The reasons why the Supreme Court justices may or may not watch this video, after the jump ...
“I don’t expect that it will be admitted as evidence; we’re not part of the legal proceedings,” Jacobs said. “However, it’s important that the justices understand that people’s lives are literally at stake. And we believe that the video and the wide support that it’s receiving will go a long way to make that point.” He’s not sure yet how, exactly, they’ll get this before Ron George and Co. “That’s yet to be decided, but we will do it in a respectful way.”
We checked in yesterday with Fritz Ohlrich, the clerk of the Supreme Court, to see if submitting a petition to the justices could actually work. He said it sounded kind of unprecedented. “Nobody remembers us ever really getting a petition.” And, he added, “my response would be that I’m not aware of any provision that would allow us to file a petition [in the case].”
We still wonder if it might reach the justices through their gmail or something. Just as we got it randomly, Ohlrich thinks he might’ve received the same petition on Sunday — but with his very slow Internet connection at home, he didn’t invest the time to watch the video.
As for how all of this came to be now, of all times … Ken Starr made them do it! The Pepperdine law dean, who's representing the pro-Prop 8 side before the Supreme Court, submitted a brief (.pdf) a couple of months ago in which he argued to undo the estimated 18,000 gay marriages that took place before Prop 8 passed. That got the Courage Campaign worked up, it asked members to send in photos along a “Don’t Divorce Us” theme, they sent in about 1,500 of them, and then a blogger suggested riffing off of Regina Spektor’s song "Fidelity." Voila. (For the copyright types out there, yes, Jacobs says, the group got permission from Spektor and her labels.)
“There was nothing for the Prop 8 campaign like this,” allowed Jacobs, whose group was behind this election-season ad. Does he think there should have been? “Yes.” Then he quickly -- and we mean quickly -- added, “But you know what, that’s then. This is now. And our job now is to let people see how normal this is.”
His group has also started a “Camp Courage” program, to train its members to use grassroots techniques like house parties and house calls to build support for their cause. If you think that name sounds kinda familiar, you’re right. It’s modeled on “Camp Obama.”
— Pam Smith