Gay marriage fight isn't over in California, activists vow
Legal challenges ensue in federal court, and plans are afoot for a 2010 ballot measure to undo Proposition 8.
San Francisco and Los Angeles
A day after California's Supreme Court upheld a ballot initiative banning same-sex marriages, gay and lesbian rights groups were plotting the next stage in an uphill battle to sway public opinion on a deeply divisive issue.Skip to next paragraph
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Activists are already crafting a new ballot initiative for 2010 to overturn Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that amended the state's constitution last year to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. And the first legal challenge came Wednesday morning, when Theodore Olson and David Boies – opposing lawyers in the legal battle over the 2000 election between George W. Bush and Al Gore – together filed an injunction in federal court calling for the restoration of all same-sex marriages in California.
The injunction follows an earlier suit filed Friday, arguing that a ban on same-sex marriages violates the federal guarantee of equal protection under the US Constitution.
But as Prop. 8 opponents gear up for a fight, supporters of the ban are ready to defend the measure. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, they are planning a multimillion-dollar campaign to ensure marriage remains limited to a man and a woman in California.
"The will of the voters is under attack once again," said Andrew Pugno of the pro-Prop. 8 ProtectMarriage.com, in a statement about the the new federal lawsuit. The injunction has little chance of succeeding, but they would "provide a vigorous defense of Prop 8, just as we did in the California courts."
On Tuesday, the court rejected the argument that Prop. 8 was an unconstitutional violation of the state's equal protection clause. At the same time, it preserved 18,000 gay marriages that took place before Prop. 8 passed last November with 52 percent of the vote.
In the year ahead, the battle over same-sex marriage is likely to play out on the airwaves, in the streets, in courtrooms, and churches.
While public acceptance of gay marriage is growing, advocates admit the chances of undoing Prop. 8 in the near future are slim.
"There is no one who is sanguine about how daunting that task will be," says Kate Kendell, executive director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights in San Francisco. "It will require a level of engagement and tenacity that is unprecedented" to overturn Prop. 8, she says.
Reaching out to conservative voters
It also means taking their message beyond California's liberal enclaves, such as San Francisco where the gay community is deeply rooted, to the conservative Central Valley and going door to door in communities where residents put "Yes on 8" signs in their front yards.