Monday, July 9, 2007

Frequently Asked Questions

Why did ECCO choose to recommend a “No” vote on the Governor Davis recall?
Governor Davis enacted more pro-LGBT legislation than all previous Governors of California combined! Just in his latest legislative session, he signed AB 17, AB 196, AB 205, AB 266, and AB 458. As a non-partisan LGBT Political Action Committee, it would have been irresponsible to ignore this and recommend anything less.

ECCO members receive political recommendations from many sources; ours is meant to represent a non-partisan LGBT perspective. Voters should use it as a tool in their overall decision-making process. For instance, a gay lawyer may find a voter guide produced by the American Bar Association a more relevant guide than one they receive from ECCO, and weigh them accordingly.

How much money did ECCO, a Political Action Committee, donate to the No on Davis Recall campaign?
$0. Nothing. Nada.

ECCO is out of step with California voters, particularly LGBT voters, isn’t it?
Taking a position of “No” on the recall was hardly a fringe position. Close to 45% of statewide voters took the same position. The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF), citing exit polls, stated that by “a margin of 58% to 42%, gay voters opposed the recall.”

Isn’t ECCO just a Democrat Party campaign organization?
The Democratic Party recommended a “No” on the recall and “Yes” on Cruz Bustamante. In fairness and in a non-partisan fashion, ECCO chose not to make an endorsement on Recall Question 2. Instead, we decided to educate our membership on topics pertinent to the LGBT community. We determined those issues and then researched the candidates' positions. As it turned out, several of the candidates on our endorsement mailer received more “Yes” positions than Cruz Bustamante.

It is interesting to note that ECCO gave Republican Arnold Schwarzenegger the benefit of the doubt and rated him a “Yes” on Domestic Partner benefits. This category was determined according to public statements and the candidate’s position on AB 205. At press time, the Schwarzenegger campaign had declined to comment on AB 205 and he had no public voting record. Two days before the election, and after all of our voter guides were mailed and ads placed, he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he would not have signed AB 205 into law if it came before him as Governor.

AB 205 is an expansion of the Domestic Partner Registry that puts California at the forefront (only behind Vermont) of LGBT rights and responsibilities. AB 205 represent years of political struggle and its landmark passage cannot be understated.

How does ECCO’s endorsement process work?
Before each election, ECCO forms a Political Affairs Committee. In so doing, we outreach to the community at large to form the team that will develop candidate questionnaires, do research, and conduct candidate interviews.
By all accounts, ECCO does the non-glamorous work. We spend hours with candidates for Mayor, City Councils, School Boards, etc., ensuring the LGBT community is well represented at the local level as well.

Based on this finding of facts, on public statements, community involvement, and voting records, this committee makes its recommendations to the Board where they are finally agreed. Endorsement meetings, where our Voter Guides are finalized, are when ECCO has its most vigorous debates. Forming opinions about ECCO solely on the end results that are printed, without considering all the thought and work that went into its preparation, is a disservice to ECCO, our volunteers, the exhaustive process, and our community.

Does ECCO endorse candidates just because they are LGBT?
ECCO does consider that an “out” person running for office should be given special consideration and that our membership expects such. This is never asked on our candidate questionnaires but some candidates have made public declarations or offered this type of information during interviews.

Why doesn’t ECCO endorse more Republicans?
During the decision making process for election recommendation, Republican candidates actually receive MORE consideration than others simply because we WANT to endorse and support moderate Republicans. In 2000, ECCO was guaranteed that Assembly candidates Tom Harman (Huntington Beach) and Lyn Daucher (Diamond Bar) were moderates so we endorsed them. Since their victory, they have voted against EVERY LGBT bill. We now rate them as “unacceptable” based on their track record, not on any perceived ECCO bias.

According to a 2003 report issued by the Lambda Letters Project (a non-partisan Sacramento-based LGBTI lobby group), Democrats far outpaced their Republican counterparts when AB 17, AB 196, AB 205 and AB 458 were considered. In fact, Assembly Democrats voted positively on this legislation 86% of the time; Assembly Republicans voted negatively 97%. The Senate wasn’t much different. Senate Democrats supported these bills 91% of the time; Senate Republicans voted against them 80% of the time.

While most of ECCO’s voting recommendations are members of the Democrat Party, it’s not for a lack of attention to Republicans. Rather, it is a lack of Republican candidates willing to stand up, support, and vote for issues that are important to ECCO, its membership, and the LGBT community.

Why doesn’t ECCO spend more time educating its membership on candidate positions?
We do! Voter Guides for major elections provide a history of voting records. It is easy to compare track record to recommendation. Monthly donors receive regular "180+ Newsletter" updates on the progress of legislation, and voting records are also tracked on the ECCO web site throughout the year. It’s clear our recommendations are based on facts.

Why doesn’t ECCO work more closely with the Log Cabin Republicans?
Each election, ECCO seeks out LCR-Orange County for their participation. Since ECCO is definitely more influential in Orange County politics, having Republicans placed on our Voter Guide and in our ads would benefit moderate Republicans and LCR-OC. Isn’t a more appropriate question, “Why isn’t Log Cabin working more closely with ECCO?”

Isn’t the ECCO Awards Dinner slanted toward Democrats?
Our awards are based on merit. For 2003, Orange County Sheriff Mike Carona (Republican and a member of Governor Schwarzenegger’s Transition Team) was honored. ECCO is proud to have a strong relationship with Sheriff Carona and we have a long, positive history of supporting him financially and with endorsements. ECCO also honored Sister Mary Elizabeth for her HIV/AIDS work, American Airlines, and Brad Brafford for his years of community support. The political party affiliations of these three are all unknown and were not part of the decision process.

After the decision was made to highlight the Supreme Court sodomy law ruling, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund was chosen to give the keynote address. Their political affiliation? Unknown. ECCO also considered former U.S. Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY) as the Keynote Speaker.

Who is represented on the ECCO Board of Directors?
The Chairperson is a longtime Republican and current member of the Log Cabin Republicans. Our board has community representatives that are Republican, Democrat, Green, Decline to State/Independent; gay, lesbian, MTF transgender, FTM transgender, and straight; union and business supporters; men and women of various age ranges; a diverse board indeed!

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