In Calif., Gay Marriage Fight Moves To Next Round The California Supreme Court's ruling upholding the voter-approved ban on marriage is not the final word. A lawsuit filed Wednesday seeks to challenge Proposition 8 in federal court. Still others are trying to take another crack at the ballot box.
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In Calif., Gay Marriage Fight Moves To Next Round

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In Calif., Gay Marriage Fight Moves To Next Round

In Calif., Gay Marriage Fight Moves To Next Round

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It's clear that yesterday's California Supreme Court decision will not be the final word on gay marriage in that state. The court upheld Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage. Prop 8 opponents are already pushing to get the question on the California ballot again. And this morning, two prominent lawyers elevated the issue from state to federal court. They filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles challenging the proposition. From member station KQED in San Francisco, Scott Shafer reports.

SCOTT SHAFER: Evidence that politics makes strange bedfellows was evident in Los Angeles today. Exhibit A: the two lawyers on opposite sides in the 2000 Bush versus Gore election challenge announced they were teaming up to fight for gay marriage. The attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court saying California's Proposition 8 violates the U.S. Constitution's guarantee to equal protection in due process. Some gay rights groups disagree, and they issued a statement saying they would rather have state legislatures and voters decide the issue.

(Soundbite of crowd)

SHAFER: In front of the State Supreme Court building in San Francisco yesterday, Berkeley resident Lillia Tam(ph) said she wants another crack at the ballot.

Ms. LILLIA TAM (Resident, Berkeley): It's the only legal recourse that we have at this point. So we have to go back to the ballot. It's just a question of when.

SHAFER: But the question of when was answered a few hours later. Equality California, a leading gay rights group, announced its intention to go back on the ballot next year, in hopes of restoring the right to gay marriage. Many in the gay community were unhappy with Equality California's leadership of last year's $43 million campaign to defeat Prop 8. Critics, like community activist Andrea Shorter, say the campaign lacked grassroots support and failed to include any gay or lesbian people in its advertising. Now Shorter has joined Equality California, directing its grassroots operation.

Ms. ANDREA SHORTER (Community Activist): This time out we want to be sure that people are able to see and they're be able to hear the voices of families of married couples, of couples that are looking to be married, that are committed that are loving, that are caring for each other.

SHAFER: Earlier this month, Equality California released TV ads featuring the kinds of voices critics said were absent from last year's No on 8 campaign.

(Soundbite of TV ad)

Unidentified Man #1: When Proposition 8 passed, it was a very sad day for us.

Unidentified Man #2: It just made me feel really awful, empty.

Unidentified Man #1: We are a family like everyone else and we deserve to be married like everyone else.

(Soundbite of music)

SHAFER: Proponents of gay marriage are hiring field organizers, building bridges in places like the Central Valley and the Inland Empire where gay marriage has little support. But opponents of gay marriage are ready to defend yesterday's court victory. At a press conference in Sacramento yesterday, Ron Prentice, chairman of Protect Marriage — the official proponents of Prop 8 -expressed doubt that gay marriage rights can be won at the ballot box.

Mr. RON PRENTICE (Chairman, Protect Marriage): In 30 states where this issue has been taken before the people, it's been unanimous. The people continue to believe that traditional marriage should stand in definition in law.

SHAFER: His side isn't resting on its laurels. Like the gay marriage advocates, they're also hiring field organizers, conducting focus groups and raising money. Not all opponents of same-sex marriage are eager for the next battle. Reverend Rick Cole is senior pastor of the Capital Christian Center in Sacramento and a supporter of Prop 8. But Reverend Cole worries that another campaign will only lead to more anger on both sides.

Reverend RICK COLE (Capitol Christian Center, Sacramento): We've got to find a different pathway to the way that we debate these things and the kind of propaganda that's put out there. We've just got to find a better way.

SHAFER: Support for gay marriage has been consistently rising in California over the past three decades. Younger voters in particular favor expanding marriage rights and as more of them reach voting age, it's likely to tip the scale toward marriage equality. Still, the latest polls show Californians are split right down the middle on this issue. So next year's gay marriage campaign is likely to be another nail-biter.

For NPR News, I'm Scott Shafer in San Francisco.

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