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CURRENT ISSUE:  October 20, 2008
VOL. 46, NO. 18   •   Oakland, CA
Other front page story
Economic crisis places more demand on non-profits
Yes on 8 campaign gains momentum
with TV ads, volunteer advocates

Now cash-rich and leading in the polls, the campaign for Proposition 8 pressed a TV ad offensive against the financially lagging effort by same-sex marriage advocates to defeat the measure Nov. 4

In the second of two TV ads running statewide, the ProtectMarriage.com/Yes on 8 campaign maintained that if the California Supreme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of same-sex marriage is allowed to stand, religious organizations will face threats to their tax-exempt status and parents will be unable to stop public schools from teaching same-sex marriage in the classroom.

The Equality California/No on 8 campaign launched on ad decrying the claims. “We refuse to be swiftboated,” the campaign said.

The Yes on 8 campaign countered with a memo by its general counsel stating that in Massachusetts, following that state’s legalization of gay marriage, a federal appeals court found that parents had no legal footing to object to such teaching in the public schools.

Yes on 8 spokesman Chip White added that if the California Supreme Court decision is not overturned, “the public schools will have no choice but to teach children as young as kindergarteners that there is no difference between same-sex marriage and traditional marriage.” In May the state high court in a 5-4 decision overturned Proposition 22 which California voters had approved by a 61 percent margin in 2000 and which had banned same-sex unions being defined as marriage.

White also cited a much-publicized field trip to San Francisco’s City Hall by first-graders celebrating the marriage of their lesbian teacher. San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom officiated. “Their argument is completely outdone by this public school field trip,” White said.

But journalist Peter Shrag, in a commentary posted on the California Progress Report website, said it is “wildly misleading” to insinuate that young children will be indoctrinated unless the ruling is overturned. The intent of the Massachusetts court decision was not indoctrination but toleration of different relationships, he wrote.

On the claim that non-passage of Pro-po-sition 8 could jeopardize religious organizations’ tax-exempt status, White said the threat concerns not what takes place in the sanctuary of a church but the impact on church-sponsored activities, such as bookstores and retreat centers that interact with secular life.

The pro-8 campaign’s second TV ad followed an initial one featuring San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom crowing to supporters that same-sex marriage in California is going to happen “whether you like it or not.” The campaign also released a legal memo in connection with the ad, stating that enforced recognition of same-sex marriage “will result in a wide range of legal problems for private individuals.”

Stockton Bishop Stephen Blaire, president of the California Conference of Bishops, in a commentary in the Modesto Bee, warned that not voting for Proposition 8 “could have serious consequences.”
“With the emphasis placed on the contractual relationship between two individuals, the place of children in a marriage is relegated to a secondary position,” he wrote. “Current studies show that the optimum reality for children is their natural mother and father in a low-conflict relationship.

“Churches and other institutions which do not conform to the civil definition of marriage, now defined constitutionally as a right, could experience severe legal repercussions,” Bishop Blaire continued. “Clergy who refuse to perform same-sex marriages might lose their state authorization to witness marriages. Contractual agreements between religious social service agencies and the state for services in the community, especially for the poor, could be put in jeopardy.

“Parents might find that what they teach their children about the purpose, importance and benefit of marriage is contradicted by state law.

“The door is opened,” Bishop Blaire concluded, “for an ever-changing definition of the reality of marriage in order to adjust to the demands of those who seek to have their relationships recognized as marriage by the constitution.”

The Yes on 8 campaign is funding its TV ad effort with the more than $25 million in donations it reported receiving from 60,000 supporters between Jan. 1 and Sept. 30. Late reports show that funds poured into the campaign at the rate of $50,000 a day between Oct. 5 and Oct. 12.

“We’re about $10 million up on the other side,” White said. “That’s a testimony to regular Californians who feel very strongly marriage should be between a man and woman.”

The campaign has received $1 million from the Knights of Columbus national organization, $1.44 million from the National Organization for Marriage, $900,000 from Fieldstead and Co. of Irvine, $500,000 from the American Family Association of Tupelo, Miss., $450,000 from Dr. John Templeton Jr. of Bryn Mawr, Pa. and $404,000 from Concerned Women for America of Washington, D.C.

However, White said the bulk of the support has been in small donations, a fact the No-on-8 characterized as “a huge wake-up call’ in a campaign e-mail lamenting that only 30,000 donors had contributed to its side.

White said the Yes on 8 campaign is working door-to-door with the help of 100,000 volunteers. “Some people are taking time off work,” he said. “People are educating their neighbors about the serious consequences to California, especially the school kids.”

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