- The Washington Times - Monday, November 21, 2016

Anti-Trump secessionists filed formal paperwork Monday launching their petition drive aimed at separating California from the union by first putting the issue before voters on the 2018 ballot.

A petition submitted by the Yes California Independence Campaign calls for repealing language in the state constitution that describes California as an “inseparable part” of the nation and holding a vote on independence on March 13, 2019.

Organizers, who filed the petition with the California attorney general, said they plan to begin collecting signatures early next year to qualify for the ballot.

At the same time, the group is planning to hold #Calexit rallies in Los Angeles and San Francisco during the Jan. 20 inauguration of president-elect Donald Trump.

“This is our chance to show the world that Donald Trump is not California’s president and that we are going to take direct action to defend our values, preserve our way of life, and protect our people,” said a post on Yes California’s Facebook page.

The #Calexit campaign has six months to collect 585,407 valid signatures, but the goal is to gather at least 1 million.

Earlier this month, organizers in neighboring Oregon filed an initiative to secede from the union in response to Mr. Trump’s Nov. 8 election win, but then moved to withdraw the petition after being met with a negative response, including death threats, according to The Oregonian.

So far comments on Yes California’s Facebook page have been mostly positive, with some supporters saying they will sign the petition or move to California if the effort succeeds.

“If this happens! I’m moving in! Honestly California rocks!!!” said Jose Sanchez of Maryland on the page.

Under the terms filed by Yes California, the 2019 independence vote would need to receive 55 percent of the vote from at least 50 percent of voters in order to pass. If it did, the governor would be required to apply for the Republic of California to join the United Nations.

The Yes California movement was launched in August 2015, but Mr. Trump’s victory sparked a surge of interest in secession among voters in the heavily Democratic state, which backed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton by 62 percent to 33 percent.

The idea has drawn interest from at least two Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and California Assemblyman Evan Low, who said on Twitter two days before the Nov. 8 election, “In the disastrous case that @realDonaldTrump is elected, I will explore intro of a bill to have CA secede from the union. #kiddingnotkidding.”

A few days after the vote, the Democrat Mr. Low said, “Californians, we will fight for you. All options are on the table as we protect our values of inclusion, love and diversity.”

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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