Same-Sex-Marriage Fight Hits The Road Advocacy groups on both sides of the same-sex-marriage issue are trying to influence the court of public opinion. One group has arranged a 17-state bus tour to protest the issue. Another group is organizing a huge Internet push to garner support.
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Same-Sex-Marriage Fight Hits The Road

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Same-Sex-Marriage Fight Hits The Road

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Same-Sex-Marriage Fight Hits The Road

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MELISSA BLOCK, host:

California's ban on same-sex marriage has been overturned by a federal judge, but the fight over Prop 8 isn't letting up. As the case makes its way through the federal court system, advocacy groups on both sides are trying to influence the court of public opinion.

NPR's Ina Jaffe reports.

(Soundbite of music)

Unidentified People: (Singing) Unity, unity.

INA JAFFE: It was an interesting choice of song for a rally on one of the nation's most divisive issues. In Atlanta, about 20 people gathered outside the state capitol building Saturday to protest same-sex marriage.

It was the most recent stop on a 17-state bus tour put together by the National Organization for Marriage. Brian Brown, the president of the group, blasted the ruling last week by U.S. District Judge Vaughn Walker overturning California's voter-approved same-sex marriage ban.

Mr. BROWN (President, National Organization for Marriage): There is something wrong when one judge, with the stroke of the pen can strike down your civil right to vote.

JAFFE: The handful of attendees was outnumbered tenfold by counter-protesters across the street, but Brown said this rally would be the start of something big.

Mr. BROWN: Each and every one of you here, what you have heard, take back into your community, ask people to sign up because we're building an army of two million activists throughout this country. We're already at 750,000.

(Soundbite of applause)

Ms. MAGGIE GALLAGHER (Chairman, National Organization for Marriage): We have pretty ambitious goals moving forward.

JAFFE: Maggie Gallagher, the chair of the National Organization for Marriage, says the group is working to elect candidates sympathetic to their cause in New Hampshire, Iowa, Minnesota and other states.

Ms. GALLAGHER: We will certainly raise and spend $10 million this year, which kind of blows my mind because I never expected to be in a position to raise and spend that much money, but I'm not going to promise that it won't be more, especially after this ruling.

JAFFE: On the other side of the issue, a group called the Courage Campaign is using technology to rally supporters. Rick Jacobs is the founder.

Mr. RICK JACOBS (Founder, Courage Campaign): The only way that we know in the modern age to replicate the town square is through the Internet.

JAFFE: Like the National Organization for Marriage, the Courage Campaign also claims about 750,000 members. So when the Supreme Court refused to allow the Proposition 8 trial to be televised, the Courage Campaign got some of their supporters to read trial transcripts and post them on the Internet. The effort started with some star power. This is Academy Award-winner Marisa Tomei reading the courtroom testimony of plaintiff Kris Perry.

Ms. MARISA TOMEI (Actor): I have been in love with a woman for 10 years, and I don't have a word to tell anybody about that. I don't have a word.

Unidentified Man: Would the word do it?

Ms. TOMEI: Well, why would everybody be getting married if it didn't do anything?

JAFFE: The next phase of the campaign, says Jacobs, is to get same-sex couples and their friends and family to flood the Internet with videotapes of their personal stories. In this video, New Jersey teenager Madison Gallucio sits beside her two younger siblings and their adoptive fathers.

(Soundbite of video)

Ms. MADISON GALLUCIO: Without them, I don't know where I would be. This is my family, and I don't understand why some people think it's wrong or that it's bad because we're a loving family, and we love each other. And I don't understand why - what could possibly be wrong with that.

JAFFE: Last week the Courage Campaign raised nearly $150,000 in a couple of days to back this new effort. Jacobs maintains that over time, the project will have a much greater impact than just friends sharing videos with friends.

Mr. JACOBS: Imagine hundreds of thousands of these stories for the next two years.

JAFFE: By which time the Prop 8 case might be before the Supreme Court.

Mr. JACOBS: As the court of law considers what Judge Walker has ruled, so the court of public opinion has to consider it.

JAFFE: And both sides of the marriage issue are working to win in that court, hoping it can sway the ones that actually decide the law.

Ina Jaffe, NPR News.

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