Prop 8 opponents concerned about shift in momentum

Opponents of the ballot initiative to ban same-sex marriage ratcheted up their campaign yesterday. KPCC's Brian Watt tells us new polls and fundraising numbers have the "No on Prop 8" forces in a panic.

Brian Watt: At the grand opening of a "No on Prop 8" headquarters in East Los Angeles, the campaign's political director Yvette Martinez got straight to the point.

Yvette Martinez: Last week, we thought we were winning. Now we're losing. I don't want to scare you, but I want to inspire you.

Watt: Martinez was inspired to fight harder after a new poll by a San Francisco TV station showed likely California voters favor Prop 8 47 percent to 42 percent. The same poll 11 days before gave the same lead to Prop 8's opponents. The latest results were based on responses from only 670 voters, and the poll's margin of error is nearly 4 percentage points. But still, says Martinez...

Martinez: I think it took people by surprise that we were already this close. But we always expected to be this close, and, you know, the other side has TV ads, they have more money...

Watt: A lot more money at the moment. "Equality for All," which is running the "No on Prop 8" campaign, has raised about $16 million so far. The ballot measure's chief supporter, the Protect Marriage Coalition, has brought in $25 million. Coalition spokeswoman Sonja Eddings Brown says it came from more than 60,000 individual contributions.

Sonja Eddings Brown: It's almost as if a sleeping giant has been awoken, and parents all over California are standing up.

Watt: Brown says the "Yes on 8" TV ads have been effective at showing what it believes are the consequences of legalized same-sex marriage.

Brown: Voters are realizing that the Supreme Court overturned a landslide election supporting traditional marriage to legalize gay marriage, and they're upset about that.

Watt: That election took place eight years ago. More than 60 percent of California voters approved Proposition 22, the measure that defined marriage as a union of a man and a woman. Bob Stern runs the Center for Governmental Studies in Los Angeles. He told KPCC's "Patt Morrison" why the Prop 22 vote makes this November's election all the more significant.

Bob Stern: This will be the first time in California history where Californians reverse themselves if they happen to vote against Prop 8 this time. So this can be history-making in a whole bunch of ways, but money plays a role in tight races. I think in this case, people really know how they feel about it, so it'll be the, sort of the swing voters, the 15 percent, that'll make the difference.

Watt: The "No on Prop 8" campaign's new headquarters in East Los Angeles targets a key segment of swing voters: Latinos. The office is on Cesar Chavez Avenue. Christine Chavez, the granddaughter of the legendary cofounder of the United Farmworkers, told volunteers at the opening they were following in his footsteps.

Christine Chavez: Cesar was one of the first civil rights leaders to speak out for the LGBT community. Because he understood that you can't demand equality for your own people while tolerating discrimination against anyone else.

Watt: The "Yes on Prop 8" campaign also has plans to target Latinos. They'll buy ads on Spanish-language TV, and they've organized a coalition of Latino pastors to speak out in favor of Prop 8.