In California, gay marriage fight heats up
Supporters of Proposition 8, which would outlaw the practice, nose ahead in polls.
In a key vote being watched around the US and beyond, California will revisit on Nov. 4 the question of same-sex marriage. Proposition 8 would outlaw gay marriage by amending the state Constitution to say: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."Skip to next paragraph
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The battle over Proposition 8 has been building in recent weeks, with millions of dollars being poured into ads on both sides, and some polls showing rising support for the measure.
Because of the state's size, population, and history of being on the cutting edge in social and cultural movements, the vote may help speed up or slow down similar moves in other states and countries.
"The world is watching this," says Dr. Leo Godzich, president of the National Association for Marriage Enhancement, a marriage education organization based in Arizona. "We have gained a worldwide reputation for exporting social issues to other nations. So, many are watching to see whether we will stand up for what has been a traditional foundation for society."
Gay-rights advocates say the notion of "traditional foundation" is expanding. And they expect that any defeat in California will discourage similar moves to outlaw same-sex unions elsewhere.
"People everywhere are less and less uncomfortable with the idea [of same-sex marriage]," says Steve Smith, a key strategist for the campaign against Prop. 8. "People know more and more same-sex couples who are valid members of society – the ones who operate a small shop downtown or the fireman next door. They've seen so many couples who have been together 20, 30, 40 years get married and the world hasn't come to an end. So now the issue is, 'Don't end this opportunity for these people.' "
A close vote?
Californians first outlawed same-sex marriage in a voter initiative in 2000. But that vote was struck down in May by the state Supreme Court, which said the state can't deny marriage to a couple on the basis of gender.
An estimated 11,000 same-sex couples have married in California since then.
A recent Survey USA poll showed 47 percent of Californians supported the new ballot initiative and 42 percent opposed it.