California, the state that launched the tax-cutting initiative known as Proposition 13, is again ready to blaze new political trails with measures that would severely restrict the rights of homosexual teachers and public smokers.
Initiatives to accomplish both purposes are on the November ballot and hold leads in public opinion surveys.
The respected California Poll, taken by Mervin Field, shows Proposition 6, the anti-homosexual initiative, leading by 61 percent to 31 percent. Proposition 5, which would prohibit smoking in most public places and require restaurants to establish non-smoking sections had a 58-to-om percent lead.
Proposition 6 would require dismissal of school teachers and administrators "for advocating soliciting, imposing, encouraging or promoting private or public sexual acts . . . between persons of same sex in a manner likely to come to the attention of other employes or students; or publicly or indiscreetly engaging in such acts."
The ballot argument for this measure declares that Proposition 13, passed by California voters in June, became "a model and inspiration for the rest of the nation" and suggests that Proposition 6 will do the same for family values.
"A coalition of homosexual teachers and their allies are trying to use the vast power of our school system to impose their own brand of nonmorality on your children," contends the argument written by state Sen. John V. Briggs of Orange County.
Briggs was an unsuccesful candiate for the Republican nomination for governor earlier this year, trailing so badly that he eventually quit the race. But he looks like a winner in November both with Proposition 6 and with another ballot initiative, Proposition 7, that would extend the categories of murder for which the death penalty could be imposed and lengthen sentences for second-degree murder.
The California Poll shows that later meausre, which appears to have no organized opposition, leading 8.3-to-9 percent.
Proposition 6 has been denounced on the grounds that it is, at best unnecessary because present law provides fro dismissal of a teacher who flaunts any kind of sexual conduct.
"Flair and effective laws now exist to protect our students," says the anti-Proposition 6 ballot argument signed by San Francisco Police Commissioner Jane McKaskle Murphy and others. "Don't institute witchhunts."
Opponents of the measure, led by veteran political consultant David Mixner, claimed they encounter a "climate of fear" in trying to raise money. They say this has been especially true in the entertainment community, where some prominent figures are concerned with being labeled homosexuals.
Money is no problem for the opponents of Proposition 5. Five major tobacco companies have kicked in to stop the antismoking initiative, which would outlaw smoking in most places and enclosed areas open to the public.
The anticipated cost of the media campaign being run against Proposition 5 is $1.5 million, about three times the money that will be spent on its behalf.
Unfortunately for the opponents, however, Proposition 5 is the kind of simply worded issue on which voters seem to decide in a hurry. Field's latest poll shows only 4 percent undecided, which meansa that the opponents must change the minds of the 58 percent of the public already favoring the initiative.
Toward this ends, the San Francisco based public relations firm of Woodward and McDowell has trotted out a coalition of opposition that includes the Democratic State Central Committee, the 1974 Republican candidate for governor, a director of the American Civil Liberaties Union and the head of the state AFL-CIO.
The most effective argument in the anti-Proposition 5 arsenal may be ridicule. Radio commercials against the initiative portray confused policemen and citizens trying to sort out the differences between jazz concerts and amateur boxing matches, where smoking would be illegal, and rock concerts and professional fights, where smoking would be allowed. One commercial closes with the line: "You know, Ralph, that's what made Americal great."
Sponsors of Proposition 5 include the American Cancer Society, which donated to a political campaign for the first time, the California PTA and the Sierra Club.
While the pro-initiative forces have little going for them in the way of a media campaign, they are helped by an increasing trend against smoking among adults in this state and by the California penchant for legislating morality at the ballot box.
"This is the California voters' year to go wild," said Jim Bishop, the campaign consultant who is conducting the Proposition 5 campaign. "They passed Proposition 13, and if they're going to pass this, this is the year they'll do it.