• Photo for Call to Arms: California Gay Marriage in Jeopardy
    Photo Credit: iStockPhoto

Call to Arms: California Gay Marriage in Jeopardy

By L.K. Regan

Coming down toward election day, the polling numbers surrounding California's Proposition 8 are close, and difficult to analyze. A new poll released this week suggests that, while opponents of the ban currently hold a lead, the gap is small, and closing. We'd like to break down the numbers for you, and let you know how to get in the fight.

Proposition 8 would amend the California state constitution to ban same sex marriages, which had been rendered legal this summer by a ruling of the state's Supreme Court. A "yes" vote on Proposition 8 would end gay marriage; a "no" vote would kill the proposition—though a similar kind of ballot measure could be proposed again. In the last few weeks, polls suggested that the "yes" forces had a slight edge. As RealJock reported, a SurveyUSA poll last week had the measure passing narrowly, 48 to 44 percent.

This week, however, a more reliable polling service, the Public Policy Institute of California, has released numbers based on telephone polling of 2,004 Californians contacted between October 12th and 19th. Their results show Proposition 8 failing by a margin of 52 to 44 percent. This should be good news—but it reflects a troubling closing of the gap. Last month, the same institute released a poll showing the "no on 8" forces leading by a margin of 55 to 41 percent. That the numbers are growing closer now puts within the realm of possibility the results found by less reputable polling companies, which have Prop 8 narrowly passing. In other words, it's going to be a squeaker.

The tightening of this race is no surprise given the resources being poured into the campaign. So far, the LA Times reports, the "yes on 8" forces have raised almost $27 million; the "no on 8" campaign lags slightly with just over $24 million (to see a map of the sources of contributions to each side within the state, click here). Substantial financial players have gathered on each side, with the Mormon Church organizing donations on the "yes" side (potentially as much as 40% of the total, according to The Wall Street Journal), and the California Teacher's Association making a $1 million donation to the "no" campaign. Advertising is flooding the state, including inflammatory "Yes on 8" commercials showing, for example, a little girl reporting to her horrified mother that she'd learned at school that "I can marry a princess." These commercials began to air in the last month, and have undoubtedly affected the polling numbers on Prop 8, and the measure's apparent recent gains.

In further disturbing Prop 8 news, the "Yes on 8" campaign has reportedly contacted businesses that have donated money to Equality California, threatening that, unless those donors give equal money to "Yes on 8", they will be exposed to the media. Equality California reports that the threats were signed by members of the "Yes on 8" executive committee, and sent on their campaign letterhead. Whether these efforts to extort money through threats of "outing" businesses and business leaders are even legal is unclear.

There are two weeks left until the election—still time to join the fight. Every dollar given to fight Prop 8, or every hour of time donated to make phone calls, helps bring us closer to equal rights for gays and lesbians. The "No on 8" campaign welcomes donations of money and time. We welcome the opportunity to put our collective action behind the calling of our time.