People shouldn't have to wait for their rights. They shouldn't have to campaign, raise money, create alliances or strategize to secure the basic recognition that others enjoy without effort. But history tells us that all of this is often necessary to overcome discrimination.
Thus our chagrin over the division in California's gay-rights movement about how best to challenge Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that banned same-sex marriage in the state. Federal lawsuit? Initiative to repeal Proposition 8 in 2010? Or 2012?
The most important objective should be a decisive victory, sending a clear message that this state no longer will tolerate separate but not-quite-equal status for families based on sexual orientation. Given the opinion polls, the lack of a coherent campaign strategy and the current makeup of the U.S. Supreme Court, this most likely means an unfortunate wait. A loss at the ballot box or in the nation's high court could set back same-sex marriage for years.
Equality California, the organization that led the campaign against Proposition 8, wisely decided to hold off until 2012 before attempting a ballot initiative to repeal the marriage ban. A successful campaign will require $50 million in funding, an extensive outreach program to black and Latino voters, who largely favored the ban, and, most important, an infusion of young voters, the group most sympathetic toward same-sex marriage. Waiting until 2012 gives Equality California a demographic advantage.