Support for Calif. Marriage Amendment Heats Up

( [email protected] ) Oct 22, 2008 06:55 AM EDT

Supporters of California's Proposition 8 have stepped up their campaign to pass a marriage amendment with two weeks left before Election Day.

On Monday, the "Yes on 8" campaign unleashed a double-hitter in the fight to protect marriage when it launched a new TV ad and a statewide bus tour promoting the measure.

Robb and Robin Wirthlin, the parents from Massachusetts who filed suit over a gay-themed children storybook taught to their second-grade son, participated in a press conference announcing the bus tour, which kicked off in Sacramento and will make its way down California.

The Wirthlins also appear in the third and latest TV installment by the "Yes on 8" campaign, telling viewers that soon after Massachusetts legalized gay marriage a book about two gay princes who marry each other found its way into their son's elementary school classroom. The ad warns Californians that gay marriage will also be taught in elementary schools unless Prop. 8 is approved.

If approved, Prop. 8 would amend the California Constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman and reverse the California Supreme Court decision in May allowing same-sex marriages.

Recent polls show support for Prop. 8 in the lead.

A SurveyUSA poll released Friday indicated that if a vote were taken that day, the ballot initiative to define marriage as between one man and one woman would win 48 to 45.

A different poll conducted for the Knights of Columbus also found 52 percent of voters in favor of the measure compared to 43 percent opposed.

But supporters of traditional marriage aren't taking any chances, especially with the stakes so high.

"To redefine marriage has an impact at every level of society, especially at the youngest level of society - our children," said Robb in an online interview.

"Same sex marriage will be taught in public schools if Prop. 8 does not pass," Yes on 8 campaign manager Frank Schubert commented.

Skeptics of the real impact of legalized gay marriage on children education only need to look to a recent incident, say traditional marriage supporters. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, a group of first-graders, aged five and six, were taken on a field trip to City Hall last week for the wedding of their teacher and her lesbian partner.

At the frontlines of the campaign to preserve traditional marriage, conservative Christians have tapped into church networks to push the measure's passage.

On Sunday, more than 200 church congregations in California joined a Protect Marriage rally through simulcast.

In Cupertino, Calif., a sea of 4,000 Chinese Christians from about 100 churches across the San Francisco Bay Area rallied in support of Prop. 8 on Sunday. Three other Asian-American Christian gatherings were held in Los Angeles and San Diego that same day. Participants at the rallies wore red T-shirts, many reading "Marriage 1 Man 1 Woman" or "Protect Marriage."

Hundreds of churches across the nation are also participating in a 40-day fast as they pray for the California marriage amendment and the Elections. The fast will culminate in a massive prayer rally called TheCall California on Nov. 1, when a crowd of 100,000 Christian youth is expected to petition God for a spiritual awakening from the Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego.

Asian-American Christians are not the only minority group voicing their support for the measure. On Tuesday, dozens of African-American ministers gathered at Crenshaw Christian Center in Los Angeles to back the ballot initiative.

Dr. Frederick K.C. Price, who leads the 22,000-member Crenshaw Christian Center, urged his audience to "stand with God in saying the definition of marriage must not change," the Los Angeles Times reported.

Both sides of the debate have shored up large sums in their campaigns. The "Yes on 8" campaign has raised $25.4 million as of last week, while opponents have collected $15.8 million, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

The campaign opposing Prop. 8 has also reported large-sum donations from Hollywood actor Brad Pitt and lesbian talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, who has funded her own ads against the measure.

During an appearance Monday on the "Ellen" show, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden said he would vote against Prop. 8 if he were in California.

The "Yes on 8" campaign says it has relied a lot on grassroots support although it has received large-sum donations from groups like Focus on the Family, an organization run by evangelical leader Dr. James Dobson.