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Supporters of Calif. marriage initiative take battle to Internet

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (BP)–The campaign rhetoric is heating up in California as supporters and opponents of a pro-family marriage initiative take their public debate to cyberspace.

Supporters of Proposition 22, a bill that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, have started a web site to assist networking among conservative Christians in California. The web site is http://www.protectmarriage.net.

The California Southern Baptist Convention has joined several other religious denominations in support of the “Limit on Marriages Initiative.” The state’s Roman Catholic bishops, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Assemblies of God, and several other independent evangelical and Pentecostal churches all voiced their support of the proposition.

However, several other protestant groups, including United Methodist Bishop Roy I. Sano, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America Bishop Paul Egertson, and Episcopal Suffragan Bishop Chester L. Talton, publicly opposed the measure.

Proposition 22 declares, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Supporters have also taken their message to the airwaves of California’s Spanish language television stations. The 30-second commercial was designed to identify with the strong tradition of family within California’s Latino community.

According to a poll released by the Public Policy Institute of California, 67 percent of Latino voters favor Proposition 22.

Larry Dotson, president of the California SBC, said he was initially surprised by the lack of publicity surrounding Proposition 22. “The opponents of the measure originally told us they were going to air commercials and really publicize this thing. I guess they were waiting until it got closer to the election,” Dotson said.

While the California SBC traditionally does not involve itself in state political matters, Dotson said this particular initiative is important to families throughout the state. “I think it’s one of the scariest things to come along in quite a while for the family,” Dotson told Baptist Press.

He said many Southern Baptist congregations throughout the state have expressed interest in the legislation.

The 14-word proposition has created an uproar in California’s gay community so much so that Gov. Gray Davis publicly announced his opposition to the measure.

Davis accused supporters of Proposition 22 of using it as a wedge issue to divide Californians.

Opponents of Proposition 22 have reportedly raised nearly $10 million, compared to $5 million raised by supporters. More than 750,000 Golden State voters signed petitions to have the issue placed on the March 7 ballot, according to Art Croney, a lobbyist for the California-based Committee on Moral Concerns.

Supporters said the March vote is critical after Vermont’s Supreme Court declared that same-sex couples must be granted the full legal benefits of marriage.

“California’s right to define marriage for itself is now in grave danger,” said Robert Glazier, communications director for the Protection of Marriage campaign. “Only the passage of Proposition 22 will quickly and permanently ensure California’s right to define marriage for itself and protect Californians from being forced to recognize same-sex marriages from out of state.”

The California proposition is not unique. Key pro-marriage measures won voter approval in Alaska and Hawaii in 1998, and signatures are being gathered in Colorado and Nevada for similar measures.

    About the Author

  • Todd Starnes