With nearly $70 million spent – much of it coming from out-of-state supporters – Californians will decide Tuesday on a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages.
Those opposing the measure are betting on a surge driven by liberal supporters of Barack Obama’s presidential bid. Democratic tracking polls show that 7 out of 10 Obama voters are ready to vote "no" on Proposition 8.
But those who back the proposition think that socially conservative blacks and Hispanics supporting Obama will break off in significant numbers to oppose gay marriages, according to The New York Times. They are also hoping for a last-minute "Sunday surge" of ministers campaigning from the pulpit.
That factor appeared to play a role in 2000 when voters passed Proposition 22, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman. That measure was defeated in the courts, though, which tossed out the definition last May in a ruling that made same-sex weddings legal.
What worries gay rights groups, though, are indications that some people don’t respond honestly to polls questioning their position on same-sex issues. Going into the final weekend of the 2000 race, 53 percent of the voters surveyed said they favored Prop. 22. Come election Tuesday, however, the measure scooped up a big 61 percent.
Exit polling showed that much of the late boost was the result of churchgoers.
"Ministers lobbied their congregations right at the last minute when people's attention was most focused," said Mark DiCamillo of the Field Poll organization told the San Francisco Chronicle.
"It was particularly evident in the Catholic vote," Field said.
Another obstacle to same-sex proponents is people being confused that voting 'no' means 'yes' to gay marriage instead of the truth: voting 'yes' on Proposition 8 means 'no' to gay marriage.
To confuse matters further, the Yes on 8 campaign put out a slick, last-minute mailer Saturday with a big picture of Obama declaring, "I'm not in favor of gay marriage." Never mind that he opposes Prop. 8.
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