High school board votes to support Prop 8
No on 8 campaign raises funds to defeat marriage ban
Published Thursday, 07-Aug-2008 in issue 1076
Last week, The Grossmont Union High School District (GUHSD) became the first public school district in California to go on record in support of Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage in the state.
The board voted 4-0 on July 31 to pass a resolution endorsing the November ballot initiative, which would amend the state Constitution to recognize marriage only between a man and a woman.
Some school board members and parents urged the board not to vote for the resolution, saying Proposition 8 had nothing to do with education. But in the end only one member, Richard Hoy, abstained from the vote because he said he doesn’t believe it directly affects schools.
Additionally opponents of Proposition 8 said the board has a duty to defend the state constitution, and to protect the integrity of efforts to promote inclusiveness on its campuses.
“It is an inappropriate topic and promotes discrimination and hate,” Reni Williams, a parent who disagrees with the board taking up such issues, told school board member Robert Shield in an e-mail. “The trustees of the GHUSD ran and were voted in solely for the purpose of effecting school policies and school politics.”
Shield, however, disagreed and said that school boards have a long history of passing resolutions that have only a limited relationship to public education.
“One need only spend a few minutes on the Internet to find resolutions on everything from renewable energy to Iraq policy to global warming passed by local political entities that do not have any direct authority over the issue being debated,” he wrote in an e-mail to Williams. “My position is relatively simple. I endorse a definition of marriage that has existed throughout recorded human history, and is in sync with every major religious tradition in the world.”
This isn’t the first time the Grossmont Union High School District has taken such a stance on legislation that would affect the GLBT community.
Last year, four Grossmont Unified High School District governing board members joined a federal lawsuit challenging an anti-discrimination bill signed into law by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. SB 777, which became effective Jan. 1, added the terms “gender” and “sexual orientation” to anti-discrimination laws in the California Education Code, and expanded the existing term “sex” to include gender identity.
Equality California, which opposes Proposition 8, said there are no known school districts opposing the measure. The California School Boards Association said it does not intend to take a position on Proposition 8.
California’s largest teachers’ union, the California Teachers Association, however, opposes Proposition 8, and stated all people should be allowed equal protections under the law.
“California’s constitution should guarantee the same freedoms and rights to everyone,” the union said in a release. “No one group should be singled out to be treated differently.”
In a recent article in The San Diego Union-Tribune, school board trustee Larry Urdahl, who will be running for re-election in November, said support of Proposition 8 reflects the will of East County voters.
“To not support this in East County is to end your life in politics,” Urdahl said.
Opponents of the ballot initiative disagree and hope they will defeat Proposition 8 in November.
The same day the GUHSD made its vote, the No on 8 campaign filed financial papers reporting it received thousands of dollars in donations.
“We are thrilled that people from across California and the nation are donating to the cause,” said No on 8 campaign manager Dale Kelly Bankhead. “Just this month we have raised approximately another $2 million. Volunteers at our phone banks are giving, people visiting our Web site are giving and contributions both large and small are strengthening our campaign.”
According to records, more than 96 percent of the donors have contributed less than $1,000. Internet donations are approximately $480,000. The campaign also has some major individual donors who have contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Since this reporting period has ended, additional contributions have come in from California labor unions and PG&E, one of the largest public utilities companies in the state.
“Our opponents have said they will raise and spend $10-15 million dollars,” said Steve Smith, senior campaign consultant. “The generous support of our donors means we will more than match them, and have a full communications campaign for the California voters.”
For more information about No on 8 Campaign, visit www.noonprop8.com.