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Prop 8 fight may head to U.S. Capitol

May 27, 2009 11:57:59 PM PDT
The next big battle over same-sex marriage in California may not be fought in the Bay Area or even the Golden State. Legal teams on both sides of the issue were preparing Wednesday morning to take the case to federal court, possibly even the U.S. Supreme Court.

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On the day after a devastating defeat, gays and lesbians are already launching a new campaign called "win marriage back" to try to change the hearts and minds of Californians.

"Enlisting 100,000 equality ambassadors that will talk with friends, neighbors, families about the importance of marriage equality," said Andrea Shorter from Equality California.

Those one-on-one conversations can take place anywhere, but Shorter says the core strategy is aimed beyond San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"Let's get to the inland empire, let's go to the Central Valley, make sure we're in San Diego County, Sacramento," said Shorter.

But traditional marriage supporters think the new strategy won't work any better than the old.

"It's not going to make any difference to get to know gay and lesbian families. It doesn't change the realities of what traditional marriage is," said Bill May from Protect Marriage.

Last time around, gay activists were criticized for being slow to respond to attacks including a commercial showing a first grade class celebrating their lesbian teachers wedding.

Now activists are out front with their own ads already airing.

"This campaign is really about getting people to vote affirmatively for same sex couples so we want to put our stories out there," said Geoff Kors from Equality California.

San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom says humanizing gay couples helped change his own father's mind.

"I just convinced him six months ago," said Newsom.

Equality California's analysis shows a key segment that voted against same-sex marriage last November was composed of white Republicans over the age of 65. This new campaign will reach out to those voters.

On the other hand, opponents led by the protect marriage group will target younger Californians who are more open to homosexuality.

"We need to talk to young people about why marriage is good, worthwhile, worth committing to and why it is unique between a man and a woman," said Andrew Pugno from Protect Marriage.

Both sides say the dialogue will continue in the weeks and months ahead.

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More reactions from both sides of the issue

"As Catholic bishops we are strongly committed to protecting the dignity and worth of every human person. We endorse the intent of law to provide equal protection for all. However, such purpose does not have to trump the natural and traditional definition of marriage between a man and a woman. The law has found other ways to regulate civil unions without destroying the traditional understanding of marriage." -- The Most Rev. Stephen E. Blaire, California Catholic Conference of Bishops.

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"Today's ruling by the Supreme Court in support of Proposition 8 is deeply disappointing because this ballot initiative takes away individual rights. I have long fought for equality for all of California's families and will strongly support efforts to restore marriage equality in California, so it can join the ranks of states such as Iowa and Vermont." -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco.

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"We're very encouraged by the Supreme Court choosing to yield power to the will of the people. We expect celebrations across the state." -- Ron Prentice, chairman of Yes on 8 campaign.

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"This is a dark day, a dark day in California. We are going to keep on working. We're going to have a conversation in this state" about restoring gay marriage. -- Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat.

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"While I expected the narrow, technical reasoning behind the California Supreme Court's decision, still I grieve for the state's gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people whose rights and dignity have been under assault since the passage of Proposition 8." -- Rev. William G. Sinkford, president, Unitarian Universalist Association.

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"In America, we respect the results of fair elections. The California Supreme Court arrived at the only correct conclusion available: The people of California have a fundamental right to amend their own constitution." -- Austin R. Nimocks, senior legal counsel, Alliance Defense Fund.

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"It's about so much more than just marriage. This decision sets a dangerous precedent. It lets voters -- frankly, in their mob mentality -- make decisions for minority groups." -- Sheva Diagne, 22, gay marriage activist from San Francisco.

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"There was much more at stake today than even the issue of gay marriage, as important and emotional as it is for so many people on both sides of the issue. If the Court had overturned Proposition 8, it would have had set a terrible legal precedent, divided Californians even further (and) undermined support for the judiciary and state government." -- Steve Poizner, California insurance commissioner, GOP candidate for governor.

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