Louis J. Marinelli

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Louis J. Marinelli
Born (1986-03-28) March 28, 1986 (age 33)
ResidenceMoscow, Russia[1]
NationalityAmerican
CitizenshipUnited States
OccupationCalifornian Nationalist Activist
WebsiteYesCalifornia.org

Louis J. Marinelli (born March 28, 1986) is an American-born political activist of the California independence movement organized under the Yes California Independence Campaign, an umbrella organization representing the coalition of parties and organizations supporting the proposed California independence referendum planned for 2019. Marinelli is currently the president of Yes California and the former interim chairman of the California National Party, under which he also ran for California State Assembly in California's 80th State Assembly district representing south San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, San Ysidro, and the surrounding communities. In 2016, he moved to Yekaterinburg, Russia[2] but now resides in Moscow, Russia[3].

Prior to his ideologically-progressive California secession and independence activism, Marinelli was a controversial figure in the debate over same-sex marriage in the United States until his public resignation from the National Organization for Marriage in April, 2011 out of his new-found support for marriage equality rights.

Early life[edit]

Marinelli was born on March 28, 1986 in Buffalo in Erie County, New York.[4] After his parents divorced while at a young age, Marinelli was put into the legal custody of his father and stepmother who moved and took him out of Buffalo to live in a small town near Lake Ontario in Niagara County called Newfane in 1997. Three years later, in the summer of 2000 after finishing eighth grade at Newfane Middle School, Marinelli left his father's house in Newfane to go live with his mother in a suburb of Buffalo, New York called Tonawanda. He graduated from Tonawanda High School in 2004.

Life in Russia[edit]

In October, 2007, Marinelli moved to Samara, Russia, to work as an ESL teacher in a private language school after earning a TEFL certificate.[5] Six months later, Marinelli accepted a new job teaching English for a competitor with a new school opening in Kazan.

In 2009, Marinelli relocated to Saint Petersburg, Russia where he began working as an English teacher and became a student of Russian language at Saint Petersburg State University. He left Russia together in the spring of 2011 and returned to California with his Russian fiancee.

Five years later, Marinelli returned to Russia[6]. -- this time to Yekaterinburg due to disillusionment with the United States. There he worked as an English teacher. In 2017, announcing withdrawal of the California Independence Referendum ballot measure from the 2018 election, Marinelli confirmed his intention to live in Russia, stating "I have found in Russia a new happiness, a life without the albatross of frustration and resentment towards ones' homeland, and a future detached from the partisan divisions and animosity that has thus far engulfed my entire adult life."[7].

Two years later, Marinelli moved to Moscow in the fall of 2018[8]. In the summer of 2019, Marinelli was briefly detained by Moscow police while attending an unsanctioned political march in support of investigative journalist Ivan Golunov[9], who was charged with a drug-related crime by Moscow Police and later released when an unprecedented and widespread public outcry followed.

Political activism[edit]

2004 John Edwards presidential campaign[edit]

Marinelli's first political experience came through his volunteer work on the John Edwards presidential campaign in 2004 in the Iowa Democratic Caucuses.[10] Weeks before the caucuses were to begin, Marinelli, 17, boarded a train alone out of Depew, New York bound for the small Iowa town of Osceola. There, Marinelli joined hundreds of volunteers from across the United States who likewise traveled to Iowa that year to volunteer for the campaign in exchange for the promise of room and board. In the weeks leading up the Iowa Democratic Caucuses, Marinelli was part of the campaign's GOTV effort in the town of Newton, Iowa and was a precinct captain for John Edwards there the night of his surprising second-place finish behind eventual Democratic Party nominee, John Kerry. Invited to continue along with the campaign to New Hampshire, Marinelli had to return to Tonawanda for his high school early graduation ceremony.

Protect Marriage and the National Organization for Marriage[edit]

Marinelli felt the Democratic Party shifted too far to the left when it nominated John Kerry instead of his preferred candidate John Edwards who he felt was more of a moderate, particularly on social issues and the War on Terror.[11] In 2006, Marinelli launched a Facebook group called "Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman" which eventually grew to become the largest online social media network of social conservatives against the legalization of same-sex marriage in the United States. It grew so large, in fact, that in 2009 Marinelli's "Protect Marriage: One Man, One Woman" network merged with the National Organization for Marriage and Marinelli became a paid strategist for that organization (often working remotely from Russia) and the eventual brainchild of its 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour, for which he returned to the United States in order to participate.

The 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour was a political bus tour that traveled 10,000 miles in thirty days, stopping in 21 cities in 17 states across the United States. Marinelli traveled the country alongside the organization's president, Brian Brown, and CEO Maggie Gallagher, rallying support against the spread of same-sex marriage. Attendance at these rallies were generally low and none of them attracted much fanfare.[12]

Change of heart on marriage equality[edit]

Throughout the Summer for Marriage Tour, the National Organization for Marriage was followed by reporters and staffers of the progressive grassroots advocacy organization called the Courage Campaign. These staffers frequently approached Marinelli while on tour and discussed his anti-equality activism. It was these interactions that Marinelli credited with his softening on his anti-gay rights beliefs and eventual support for marriage equality.

A few months after the Summer for Marriage Tour, in December 2010, Marinelli broke ranks with the National Organization for Marriage by announcing his support for the repeal of Don't ask, don't tell days before Congress repealed it. On April 11, 2011, Marinelli announced his support for marriage equality, his resignation from the National Organization for Marriage and issued a very public apology to the LGBT community for his years of anti-gay activism.[13][14][15][16] In the months immediately following this announcement, Marinelli proceeded to publish confidential information about his knowledge of the inner workings of the National Organization for Marriage under direct threat from Brian Brown of legal action for violation of a confidentiality agreement.[17][18]

California independence movement[edit]

Again citing disillusionment with the United States government and political system, in 2014 Marinelli launched a campaign for California to secede from the United States to become an independent country. Under the name "Sovereign California,"Marinelli grew another social media platform on Facebook and Twitter to champion this cause. Shortly thereafter, Marinelli became acquainted with an author and researcher by the name of Marcus Ruiz Evans, who wrote a book called California's Next Century, which argued for California to obtain sub-national sovereignty within the United States through a process called devolution.[19] Marinelli and Marcus Ruiz Evans adopted this idea as the goal of Sovereign California.

In 2015, with the release of a 165-page report on California's future (of the same title), Marinelli and Ruiz Evans re-branded Sovereign California's name and mission to that of Yes California,[20] inspired by the 2014 Yes Scotland campaign[21][22] for the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, and announced their plan to achieve full independence from the United States, or secession, via an independence referendum for California in 2020. This re-branding came as a result of research conducted and assembled into their 165-page report, as well as from feedback from the public while touring the state with their message of devolution.

On January 6, 2016, the California Secretary of State's office sent a memorandum to all 58 county Registrar of Voters acknowledging the establishment of the California National Party and asked that each county "track all registrations and inform this office of the number of voters registered with the California National Party for all future reports of registration."[23] Marinelli was subsequently listed on the California Secretary of State's website as the interim chairman of this party. He was voted out at their first party conference in 2016 and officially disavowed by the party when he announced his intention to relocate to Russia a few months later.

2016 campaign for California State Assembly[edit]

On July 14, 2015, Marinelli announced his intention to run for California State Assembly in California's 80th State Assembly district.[24] According to California legislative historian Alex Vassar, Marinelli is the first candidate in California history to run for state office on a platform of national independence from the United States. When asked if there had ever been a candidate with an independence platform, Vassar replied, "Not on a platform of national independence. I'd definitely say that Stan Statham's campaigns were absolutely a referendum on his proposal to create a state of Jefferson. It was the cause he was most commonly known for, so him being reelected was clearly an endorsement of that by his constituents. But actual independence? I can't remember that."

On March 25, 2016, the Secretary of State of California's office released its official notice to candidates where Marinelli was listed as a candidate having been nominated and qualified for the June 7, 2016, primary ballot with the ballot designation "California Independence Leader" and a political party of "No Party Preference".[25]

2016 California State Assembly[edit]

California's 80th State Assembly district election, 2016
Primary election
Party Candidate Votes %
Democratic Lorena Gonzalez (incumbent) 55,150 74.6
Republican Lincoln Pickard 14,015 19.0
No party preference Louis J. Marinelli 4,753 6.4
Total votes 73,918 100.0
General election
Democratic Lorena Gonzalez (incumbent) 108,655 77.8
Republican Lincoln Pickard 30,917 22.2
Total votes 139,572 100.0
Democratic hold

California ballot initiative proposals[edit]

Marinelli has been the primary proponent of several citizen's ballot initiatives most of which were related to California's secession from the United States.

Devolution panel[edit]

On February 20, 2015, Marinelli filed an initiative at the California Secretary of State's office requesting a circulating title and summary for an initiative to establish a state panel to investigate California's autonomy.[26] The title and summary was issued on April 28, 2015, summarizing the initiative as follows: "Creates state panel of government officials and private experts to explore establishing California’s autonomy from the United States. Requires the panel to hold public hearings and take expert testimony, investigate impacts from California’s statehood, determine impact of establishing autonomy, submit a monthly report on its activities to the Legislature, and prepare an annual report of its findings."[27] Marinelli needed 365,880 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2016 ballot but it failed on November 6, 2015.[28]

The President of California Act[edit]

On March 24, 2015, Marinelli filed an initiative at the California Secretary of State's office requesting a circulating title and summary for an initiative to amend the California constitution to change the title of the chief executive of the state of California from Governor to President.[29] The title and summary was issued on May 29, 2015, summarizing the initiative as follows: "Amends the California Constitution to replace the word Governor with the word President."[30] Marinelli needed 585,407 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2016 ballot but it failed on December 10, 2015.[31]

The California National Flag Act[edit]

On March 24, 2015, Marinelli also filed an initiative at the California Secretary of State's office requesting a circulating title and summary for an initiative to require the Flag of California to be displayed at equal height with the Flag of the United States.[32] The title and summary was issued on May 29, 2015, summarizing the initiative as follows: "Requires display of the California State flag in the position of first honor when both the United States flag and the California State flag are displayed at schools, universities, colleges, courtrooms, government buildings, and state parks, and at events held in coliseums, stadiums, bowls, other open air sites, and race tracks."[33] Marinelli needed 365,880 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2016 ballot but it failed on December 10, 2015.[34]

The California Independence in State Elections Act[edit]

On March 24, 2015, Marinelli filed a third initiative at the California Secretary of State's office requesting a circulating title and summary for an initiative that would prohibit political contributions to influence state elections from non-residents of California.[35] The title and summary was issued on May 29, 2015, summarizing the initiative as follows: "Prohibits candidates, committees, and certain political mailer organizations from receiving funds from non-California residents. Exempts funds provided to candidates for federal office, or to political mailer organizations advocating for or against candidates for federal office."[36] Marinelli needed 365,880 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2016 ballot but it failed on December 10, 2015.[37]

The California Immigration Reform Act[edit]

On April 20, 2015, Marinelli filed an initiative at the California Secretary of State's office requesting a circulating title and summary for an initiative that would create a state agency to issue state residency permits to undocumented immigrants living in California who registered with the state and paid state income taxes.[38] The title and summary was issued on June 24, 2015, summarizing the initiative as follows: "Authorizes California residence permits for qualifying undocumented immigrants. Creates new state department to administer permit system. Requires permit holders to pay state income taxes. Makes permit holders eligible for certain public benefits. Prohibits state and local government from using public funds to support or otherwise participate in federal immigration enforcement against permit holders."[39] Marinelli needed 365,880 signatures to qualify the measure for the 2016 ballot but it failed on January 5, 2016.[40]

In explaining the proposal, Marinelli said of undocumented immigrants, "If you come forward, register, pay state income taxes and get your immunizations, California will allow you to stay in California and you will be here legally, at least as far as California is concerned."[41] The proposal was a beefed-up version of an initiative authored and proposed by Barton C. Gilbert that would have banned any local or state funds or resources in California from being used to detain and deport a resident of California.[42] Gilbert continues to work with Marinelli and is a board member of the Yes California campaign.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Сепаратист на марше. Американец, которого не взяли в автозак", [Радио Свобода], June 13, 2019. Retrieved June 22, 2019.
  2. ^ Kramer, Andrew E. (February 21, 2017). "California Secession Advocate Faces Scrutiny Over Where He's Based: Russia". The New York Times.
  3. ^ Krutov, Mark (June 13, 2019). "Сепаратист на марше. Американец, которого не взяли в автозак". Freedom Radio.
  4. ^ "Analysis | He's the founder of a Californian independence movement. Just don't ask him why he lives in Russia". Washington Post. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  5. ^ https://cavotes.org/, Maplight & LWVCEF, http://maplight.org &. "Louis J. Marinelli, III | Voter's Edge California". Voter’s Edge California. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  6. ^ Sheffield, Matthew. "CalExit in trouble: Leader of California secession movement resigns, applies for Russian citizenship". Salon. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  7. ^ Bertrand, Natasha. [hhttps://www.businessinsider.com/calexit-leader-louis-marinelli-russia-2017-4 "The leader of 'Calexit' just announced he's abandoning the movement and settling permanently in Russia"]. Business Insider. Retrieved 2019-06-22.
  8. ^ Krutov, Mark (June 13, 2019). "Сепаратист на марше. Американец, которого не взяли в автозак". Freedom Radio.
  9. ^ Goryvich, Artyem. "Калифорнийский «сепаратист» стал героем ролика «Американец? Свободен!»". Голос Америки. Retrieved 2019-06-22.
  10. ^ "Meet the man who wants to make California a sovereign entity". www.latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  11. ^ Abcarian, Robin (2016-01-22). "A political searcher agitates for the independent nation of California". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
  12. ^ "Equality on Trial NOM Tour Tracker Blog". www.equalityontrial.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  13. ^ "An Anti-Gay Marriage Crusader on His Conversion". www.thedailybeast.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  14. ^ "NOM Strategist, Louis J. Marinelli, Declares Support For Same-Sex Marriage". www.huffingtonpost.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  15. ^ "Conservative Defects From Anti-Gay Group, Now Supports Same-Sex Marriage". www.talkingpointsmemo.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  16. ^ "MSNBC covers Courage Campaign and Louis Marinelli's conversion". www.youtube.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  17. ^ "NOM Legal Threat Against Marinelli". www.signorile.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  18. ^ "Defector says anti-gay group is harassing him". www.wisconsingazette.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  19. ^ "California's Next Century". www.californiasnextcentury.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  20. ^ "Meet the man who wants to make California a sovereign entity". www.latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  21. ^ "Yes Scotland logo adopted by California independence movement". www.scotsman.com. Retrieved 2016-03-27.
  22. ^ "Meet the California Separatists Leading a New Movement to Secede from the United States". www.vice.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  23. ^ "Political Body: California National Party" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  24. ^ "Announcement of Candidacy". www.MarinelliForAssembly.com. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  25. ^ "California Secretary of State's Notice to Candidates" (PDF). sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  26. ^ "Request for Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: A New Hope for California" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  27. ^ "Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: ADVISORY GROUP TO CONSIDER CALIFORNIA'S AUTONOMY FROM THE UNITED STATES" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  28. ^ "California Devolution Panel Initiative". www.ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  29. ^ "Request for Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: The President of California Act" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  30. ^ "Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: PRESIDENT OF CALIFORNIA" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  31. ^ "President of California Initiative". www.ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  32. ^ "Request for Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: The California National Flag Act" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  33. ^ "Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: DISPLAY OF STATE FLAG" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  34. ^ "California National Flag Initiative". www.ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  35. ^ "Request for Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: The California Independence in State Elections Act" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  36. ^ "Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: POLITICAL CONTRIBUTIONS" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  37. ^ "California Out-of-State Political Contributions Initiative (2016)". www.ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  38. ^ "Request for Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: The California Immigration Reform Act" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  39. ^ "Title and Summary for Proposed Initiative: IMMIGRATION" (PDF). www.sos.ca.gov. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  40. ^ "California Citizens Services Agency Initiative (2016)". www.ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  41. ^ "Immigration Reform: Signature Collection Underway For California Initiative To Give Undocumented Immigrants Residency". www.ibtimes.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.
  42. ^ "California Resident Deportation Ban Initiative (2016)". www.ballotpedia.org. Retrieved 2016-03-28.

External links[edit]