Silicon Valley leaders back No on Proposition 8 campaign

Measure would overturn gay marriage in the Golden State.

By Cyrus Farivar
Published October 31, 2008 4:30PM (EDT)

For all you non-Californians out there, there's one big state proposition that tech people seem to care about -- Proposition 8, which would make gay marriage illegal in California, despite the fact that the California Supreme Court declared gay marriage legal earlier this year.

Not surprisingly, a couple of big Silicon Valley companies have come out against the measure, including Google and, most recently, Apple. But in a big print ad in the San Jose Mercury News today, a bunch of tech leaders are putting their name to opposing this proposition. There's also a related Facebook group. (In related news, the Wall Street Journal reported that the No on Proposition 8 Web site was hit by a cyberattack yesterday.)

These include David Filo (founder of Yahoo), Chuck Geschke (founder of Adobe Systems), John Morgridge (former CEO of Cisco), Jack Dorsey (chairman of Twitter), Sheryl Sandberg (COO, Facebook), Michael Moritz (Sequoia Capital) and many others.

While defeating Proposition 8 is important -- I will be voting no -- I'd love to see Silicon Valley get equally behind Proposition 1A (the one to create a California high-speed rail system) with a similar public promotion campaign; after all, the Merc endorsed it. Further, the Bay Area Council Economic Institute recently authored a study arguing that the rail system will create nearly 50,000 permanent jobs in the Bay Area alone and over 100,000 during the construction period.

Another tech-related ballot measure, Proposition 7, which would mandate government-owned utilities to generate 20 percent of their electricity from renewable energy by 2010, and then to 40 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025, is being opposed by local newspapers and the Union of Concerned Scientists, and many renewable energy companies. The state Democratic and Republican parties are against it as well, as is the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council. Why?

Reports the Christian Science Monitor:

Prop. 7 is a dangerous anomaly, say several key observers, because it is well meaning, but incompetently written.

"This was put together by a firm with no experience in this industry with political consultants whose only focus was to write a title and summary that made it appealing to voters," says V. John White, director of the Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies, a nonprofit research and advocacy group in Sacramento.

"This is a very complicated initiative on top of existing state law which is not meeting its goals because of flaws," says Mr. White. "They should have asked for help and didn't. They made several unintentional mistakes because of the way they drafted it."

In short -- my endorsements? Yes on Proposition 1A, no on 7 and 8.

[Hat tip: Farhad Manjoo]

Cyrus Farivar

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