Will Prop 8 Action Spread To Other States?

Opponents of same-sex marriage won a big court victory in California this week. Proposition 8 — the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage — was upheld by California's Supreme Court. The next question is: Are Prop 8 supporters setting their sights on other states where gay marriage is legal?


Opponents of same sex marriage won a big court victory in California this week. Prop 8, the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriage, was upheld by California's Supreme Court. And now there's talk that Prop 8 supporters could set their sights on other states where gay marriage is legal. NPR's Richard Gonzales looks at some of their options.

RICHARD GONZALES: Five states - Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont and Iowa - have legalized same sex marriage. And the issue is in play in three other states - New Hampshire, New York and New Jersey. Some see it as a sign that in spite of what happened in California gay marriage is gaining ground in America.

But Frank Schubert, who ran the successful Prop 8 campaign, says don't believe it.

Mr. FRANK SCHUBERT (ProtectMarriage.com): What has happened is a very clever public relations effort from the gay rights community, who have attempted to spin some victories in small states, largely in highly Democratic legislatures and in courts, mostly in states that don't allow the people the right to overturn those decisions, and somehow parlay that into this idea that gay marriage is rapidly gaining support. And it's simply false.

GONZALES: Shubert says upholding Prop 8 was an important victory, because it dispels the notion that gay marriage is inevitable. Prop 8 supporters say just look at the map. Carrie Gordon Earll, a spokeswoman for the religious group Focus on the Family, is encouraged by all the states where she says the battle is already won.

Ms. CARRIE GORDON EARLL (Focus on the Family): There are 30 states that, like California, have approved a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as a man and a woman. There are 44 states that have it defining by law. So the vast majority of states already have a definition on the books, one way or the other, defining marriage as a man and a woman.

GONZALES: Earll says she isn't sure whether her side will start targeting states where gay marriage is already legal, but she says there might be a chance to reverse it. For example, in Maine, with a ballot referendum. It's a possibility, but not one that worries many leaders in the gay community.

Shannon Minter, a spokesman for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, says the circumstances aren't as easy elsewhere for another Prop 8.

Ms. SHANNON MINTER (Spokesman, National Center for Lesbian Rights): California is very unusual in that it is perhaps the easiest state in the whole country to amend our state constitution, to put something on the ballot and then all it takes is 50 percent plus one vote. So I don't think the votes in Prop 8 really doesn't translate to any problem for same sex couples in other states.

GONZALES: Both sides in the debate find hope in a recent national Gallup poll. It shows that 57 percent of those surveyed oppose same sex marriage, about the same as last year. But the poll also shows that 59 percent, between the ages of 18 and 29, support gay marriage. And that's what keeps Nadine Roberts Laurent optimistic.

After the California Supreme Court issued its ruling, Nadine and her spouse, Jane, stood in front of the courthouse in San Francisco. They were married during the period last year when gay marriage was legal, so their union was left intact by the court. Still, they say they're disappointed.

Ms. NADINE ROBERTS LAURENT (Same sex marriage supporter): I think it's a very, very sad state of affairs for California, and for the rest of the nation. We'll see it another day, though. I feel confident that it'll happen. Matter of time. I think society is changing. You know, I think that younger generations aren't going to tolerate the hatred and the bigotry. And I feel very hopeful about that.

GONZALES: And gay marriage supporters are counting on the support of younger voters as they prepare to put the issue back on the ballot perhaps by next year.

Richard Gonzales, NPR News, San Francisco.

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