The largest gay civil rights group in California has decided to support putting a same-sex marriage measure on the ballot in 2012, rather than next year as some advocates have called for.
San Francisco-based Equality California has vowed to try to overturn Proposition 8, an initiative approved by state voters last November that banned same-sex marriage, but supporters had been split on whether to pursue a new initiative in 2010 or 2012.
Equality California leaders said that if another if another group finds the money to put the issue on the ballot in 2010, they would support the measure.
"If people can raise the money and get the signatures, we'll support it in 2010, but this is our view," Equality California executive director Geoff Kors said.
Marc Solomon, Equality California's marriage director, said that "2012 simply appears by the numbers to be a better year" because younger people tend to vote in presidential elections compared to gubernatorial elections.
Solomon said younger people support same-sex marriage in much higher numbers than older voters, and that waiting will also allow a larger number of young people to reach voting age.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said today he supports Equality California's recommendation. Newsom said he believes that a 2012 ballot initiative makes sense, considering the fragmented state of the same-sex marriage coalition.
"In a perfect world we'd go forward next year, but the reality is we're not united," Newsom said.
Equality California estimates that support for gay marriage would be about 4 percent higher in 2012 than it would be in 2010, which Solomon said "is not a huge difference, but in a situation where the numbers are so close, it's a meaningful difference."
Proposition 8, approved by 52 percent of voters on Nov. 4, 2008, changed the California Constitution to restrict the definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman.
Solomon said Equality California's decision was based on "talking to people over the past few months and experience working for marriage equality over the years."
Another statewide group that supports same-sex marriage rights, Courage Campaign, is due to announce Thursday whether it will keep open for a few more weeks the possibility of a 2010 ballot effort.
The online activist group has 700,000 members, mostly Californians, who voted by an 83 percent majority in May to support a ballot measure in 2010.
Courage Campaign founder Rick Jacobs said the group will announce Thursday whether it has raised an initial $100,000 from members, to be matched by another $100,000 from partner organizations, for research on a possible 2010 initiative.