California Secession Movement Wants National Divorce to Avoid ‘Civil War’


The leader of a California secession movement known as “Yes California” told Newsweek in an exclusive interview on Saturday that a national divorce is needed to avoid another “civil war.”

As politics have become increasingly polarizing in recent years, there have been growing calls from residents in coastal-like states such as California, Texas, and New Hampshire to secede from the rest of the United States.

“Yes California” is currently campaigning on a ballot measure called CalExit 3.1, which would break California into two and establish a country separate from the U.S. in the San Francisco Bay area and along the central California coast. The independent land would be called Pacifica. So far, 92,000 people have signed up to join the campaign through the movement’s website. However, it’s unclear how many of these people are California residents.

The movement was founded in 2015 by conservative activist Louis Marinelli, who is the current president of the movement, and Marcus Ruiz Evans, who was a conservative talk radio host at the time. Evans left the movement in 2021.

“So right now we’re more working on the concept of national divorce as an alternative to potential civil violence and civil war in the country,” Marinelli told Newsweek via telephone on Saturday. “Our belief is that there’s a lot of growing political violence and political problems in the country that may lead to fighting in the streets, civil war too, some people are calling for. We are trying to propose the idea of potentially doing a national divorce of some sort…to avoid that type of situation.”

However, the legality of secession movements has been questioned. According to the Supreme Court 1869 case Texas v. White, individual states can’t unilaterally decide to leave the union. On Sunday, 2024 GOP presidential candidate Nikki Haley weighed in on calls for Texas to secede, telling CNN’s Dana Bash that “the Constitution doesn’t allow for that.”

Newsweek reached out to California Governor Gavin Newsom via online form for comment.

An American flag flies with the California State flag on October 24, 2022, in Sausalito, California. The leader of a California secession movement known as “Yes California” told Newsweek in an exclusive interview that a…

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Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Georgia Republican, has used the term “national divorce” on several occasions. She called to “separate by red states and blue states” in a post on X, formerly Twitter, in February 2023. At the time, she also went on Fox News to suggest that a national divorce is needed to avoid a civil war.

“The last thing that I ever want to see in America is a civil war,” the congresswoman told host Sean Hannity. “No one wants that…but it’s going that direction and we have to do something about it.”

More recently, Greene wrote in an X post from last December, “Soon national divorce may be our only option.”

Marinelli said that “Yes California” doesn’t support a national divorce between red and blue states, but “potentially there’s ways to draw the lines at other places.”

He explained that “just by dividing the country by red and blue states, you don’t alleviate the problem of the division between the red and blue” in any given state.

According to Marinelli, “Yes California” is also keeping its eye on other secession movements in New Hampshire and Texas.

Two pieces of legislation relating to New Hampshire’s efforts to secede from the U.S. have been introduced in the state House: CACR 20 and House Bill 1130.

CACR is a constitutional amendment that states that if the national debt, which is currently over $34 trillion, reaches $40 trillion, New Hampshire will declare independence. Meanwhile, House Bill 1130 would create a commission to study the economic, legal, and sociological factors of the state “exerting its sovereign rights.”

Meanwhile, calls for Texas to secede from the U.S. have grown as the state’s governor, Greg Abbott, fights with the Biden administration over the surge in illegal migrant crossings at the southern border.

Not the Time for National Divorce

While Marinelli voiced support for states like New Hampshire and Texas wanting to secede from the U.S., he warned that now might not be the ideal time.

“We support the effort of self-determination in general. So, if a state in the United States wants to pursue its right to self-determination and have a vote on independence that’s going to be fair and free and conform to international norms with respect to independence referendum…we would support that,” Marinelli said.

However, he added, “Maybe right now, is not the best time for us to be hashing out this domestic problem and divorcing the country. When we should be mounting on a united front to face the global problems that we currently face.”

While Marinelli continues to push for a national divorce in California, he said, “One of the things that kind of held us up from putting things on the 2024 ballot, is the situation going on with Ukraine and the growing global turmoil around the world.”

It has been nearly two years since Russia first launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, conflict has grown in the Middle East after Hamas, a Palestinian militant group, launched a surprise attack on Israel on October 7, 2023. Israel subsequently launched its heaviest-ever airstrikes on Gaza in response.

“Because of what’s happening around the world and the possibility that the United States can be drawn into war, we think it would be counterproductive to Western civilization and the cause of democracy if we were also fighting within our own country,” Marinelli said.