Third Time's a Charm!

posted by Deborah Ortiz

Tuesday, November 18, 2008, at

We did it again, and this victory was the sweetest: For the third time in four years the same small group of wealthy, conservative men in Southern California threatened to put teenagers at risk by bank rolling a ballot initiative that would force doctors to inform the parents of frightened teens if they wanted an abortion. The largest turnout of California voters in recent history fired back with a resounding "NO!"

We had some extremely tough challenges this time because the presidential election drew so much more of the electorate - including conservative evangelicals who mostly sat out the last time a parental notification proposition was on the ballot. Also, we worried that our reliable voters who had rejected these measures in the past would be so intent on their presidential vote that they might skip other issues on the ballot.

Didn't happen. They saw through the smokescreen of "mandating" family communication.

Our San Jose-based affiliate led in fundraising and we had a huge boost from labor unions. Planned Parenthood Mar Monte spans 40 counties and for the first time we were able to purchase media buys in the Central Valley and in Spanish language media. Our affiliate also led in the greatest number of phone calls to swing voters and we were joined by our activist friends in labor in our region. We thank you for taking up our fight as your own.

We all understand that parents want their daughter to come to them if she decides to have an abortion. But what if she couldn't or wouldn't? What if a girl doesn't come from a loving, supportive family, and she's desperate enough to do anything to end her pregnancy? This law would put teens in real danger.

The ads urged voters to "think outside their bubble." And that's what they did. We got more peopled to vote no in conservative Fresno County than they did in the last parental-notification initiative.

We'd love to think that we won't have to fight this battle all over again. Unfortunately the wealthy backers have already said they will do this again. The anti-choice zealots have figured out that they don't have to torpedo abortion rights by barring entrances to clinics. All they have to do is force us to spend millions of dollars and staff resources to battle the same losing proposition over and over again. It's not democracy, not the will of the people. It's just taking funding away from providing legally protected and essential medical services for contraception, primary care and prenatal care.

Our opponents know that if a large pro-choice state like California adopts a parental-notification law it will lead to even more onerous laws in other states. Their goal is to make abortion illegal and put Planned Parenthood out of business. We're confident that with your help and other progressive organizations, we can continue to protect California teenagers and reproductive rights.

Deborah Ortiz
Vice President, Planned Parenthood, Mar Monte


[ Continue reading Third Time's a Charm! ]

Reflections on Election Day

posted by Wiggsy Sivertsen

Monday, November 10, 2008, at

An election mixed with great joy and deep sadness. Hard not to be confused by these colliding emotions. On the one hand I want to dance in the streets for joy, not only for "President Obama," but also for us as a nation to have the capacity to "do the right thing." However, with all this joy comes much sadness because of the loss of Proposition 8, the anti-Gay Marriage Initiative.

It is exceedingly hard to realize that we spent 80+ million dollars to campaign for the right to deny or protect a significant number of California's citizens equality. What is more difficult is the realization that this campaign was a religious crusade against the lesbian and gay community led by the Vatican, the Mormon Church and the Religious Right. This fact is perhaps the most frightening and dangerous aspect of this battle. The idea that a vast number of Californians willingly participated in this "crusade" opens the door to the erosion of the line between church and state. Preachers using the Sunday pulpit to command their members to vote for or against Prop. 8. The voice of the Vatican leveraging its power against priests and nuns who openly disagreed with the initiative and were summarily dismissed from their parish positions for disobedience to the Pope.

Add to this the inability of the many of the African American and Latino/a communities to see beyond their own biases, instead voting in significant numbers to support the institutionalization of discrimination in the California State Constitution. It is clear that these communities do not acknowledge the vast numbers of gay, lesbian, bi, and transgendered children within their own communities. It is also clear, that we in the GLBT community need to work harder to make room for the many African American and Latino/a members in our community and encourage them to take visible leadership roles.

However, in all of this, there were significant positive gains for the lesbian, gay, bi and trans community. Here in Santa Clara County there was a great demonstration of the friendship and support from our "straight" allies in the Democratic Party, the Labor Movement and regular citizens who campaigned as ardently as we did to defeat this Christian Crusade. It was evident that there were many who truly believe that the GLBT community deserves to be treated as equal citizens and have all the privileges that all citizens in the state of Californians enjoy. It was also clear that the notion of placing discrimination in the California State Constitution is a dangerous precedent that could, in the future, be used against other communities and therefore, needed to be stopped.

But beyond the oblivious political issues in this campaign there were many personal stories. The most heartwarming of these stories was the genuine sadness and disappointment in the hearts of our "straight" allies. The past several years of working together on a variety of issues resulted in the most personal and valuable of all gains. That is the blending of our many communities together as one, fighting side by side to create a better world for everyone.

On June 23, 1994, at a press conference for the introduction of ENDA (Employment Non-Discrimination Act) Coretta Scott King said the following: "The great promise of American democracy is that no group of people will be forced to suffer discrimination and injustice." We will continue this fight.

One way or another we will win the right to marry the person we love.


[ Continue reading Reflections on Election Day ]

How Measure A happened...

posted by Chris Wilder

Wednesday, November 5, 2008, at

To the voters of Santa Clara County: THANK YOU for saving Valley Medical Center!

Measure A passed by a whopping 78% - way beyond our wildest expectations. Now, we get to work building a new hospital, letting the public know how it's going every step of the way.

Here's a bit about how it was done: The Measure A campaign really began before there was any Measure A…with a little public opinion polling. The results, obtained in early May, told us that we couldn't expect to win unless we educated voters about Valley Medical Center. Specifically, they had to know about our trauma services, burn center, and that no matter where you go for health care, you or someone you love might need VMC at any time. So, we turned these messages that resonated so well in the polling into the ballot statement, and ultimately, into the "argument in favor of Measure A."

Obviously, getting the message out takes money and endorsements. We had a great team, led by Elizabeth Nielsen and Public Affairs Associates, to line up the support as quickly as we could. Every hospital in the region, pretty much every elected official in the valley, business and labor...everyone got on board quickly to support Measure A.

A little over a million dollars was raised, and we are so grateful for everyone who gave. Medical centers, trades, doctors and nurses…all opened their hearts and their wallets to ensure we could keep our TV commercials on the air and our mailings reaching voters' mailboxes. The stories we told of lives saved by Valley Medical Center, and the big picture about seismic safety and disaster preparedness, really hit home. The final message was key: If you are worried about the economy, Measure A is a great economic stimulator. Thousands of jobs created, vs. thousands of hospital jobs lost if VMC had to shut down half of its patient beds.

Put it all together, add a top-notch field campaign by the South Bay Labor Council, remembering that we faced NO opposition, and perhaps it shouldn't have shocked us that we won by a mile. Still, conventional wisdom is that bond measures are tough to pass county-wide, especially when everyone is freaked out about the economy. It's now clear that, to the voters of Santa Clara County, preserving a strong public hospital is more important than any worries about Wall Street. Doesn't that sound like a healthy attitude?

With deep gratitude,
Chris Wilder


[ Continue reading How Measure A happened... ]

The Significance of November 4th

Last night America, true to tradition, jolted itself from the destructive path of the last eight years onto a new course. An African-American candidate with a simple message of unity and change won even the state of Virginia, seat of the Confederacy. It was a remarkable and resounding statement for diversity, innovation and a new direction for our country.

The evening held significance for Californians and residents of the South Bay on other levels as well. California was divided in fascinating ways, supporting the ethical treatment of animals while approving a Constitutional amendment that codifies bigotry. We rejected an attempt to scale back the right to choose, while approving a change in how Senate and Assembly district lines are drawn. In Santa Clara County, voters overwhelmingly approved critical funding for Valley Medical Center, while rejecting additional funding to bring BART to our area.

Each of these decisions, to some segment of our community, is as important as the election of Barack Obama was to our country. The passage of Prop 8 is a heavy blow to same-sex couples and advocates. The passage of Measure A is a sigh of relief to doctors and patients at Valley Medical Center. In every election, every contest, a few have a major stake in its outcome - but many, or most, have at least some. The success of Barack Obama is that principle writ large: Obama succeeded, in large part, because he made millions of Americans, many who'd never voted before, understand the major stakes of his candidacy.

Over the course of the next few days, the Working Partnerships blog will host a number of community leaders and experts who will share what stakes they and their communities held in the various items on last night's ballot. We'll look at what the results mean, and how winners and losers will move forward toward the goals they seek.

In any election, not everyone emerges happy with the result. But that our nation and our communities are able to reasonably discuss and decide on issues around which there is so much passion is a testament to the uniqueness of our nation, and our general willingness to put the common interest first.


[ Continue reading The Significance of November 4th ]

© 2007 Working Partnerships USA, All rights reserved.