Proposition 8, on the ballot in Californianext week, would ban gay marriage in the state, reversing a ruling by the state Supreme Court earlier this year that gave gay couples permission to marry. According to the Times, the most recent poll showed the measure losing 52%-44%.
Religion reporter Laurie Goodstein's surveyed the state of play for her Monday story, "California, a Line in the Sand For Same-Sex Marriage Foes ," which gave off a vibe of conservative preachers whipping their followers into a frenzy.
While the battle over same-sex marriage has been all but invisible in the presidential race this year, it is raging like a wind-whipped wildfire in California.
Conservative religious leaders from across the country are pouring time, talent and millions of dollars into the state in support of Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage. They are hoping to reverse a California Supreme Court ruling in May that gave same-sex couples permission to marry, resulting in thousands of exultant same-sex weddings.
Similar marriage amendments are on the ballot next month in Arizona and Florida. But religious conservatives have cast the campaign in California as the decisive last stand, warning in stunningly apocalyptic terms of dire consequences to the entire nation if Proposition 8 does not pass.
California, they say, sets cultural trends for the rest of the country and even the world. If same-sex marriage is allowed to become entrenched there, they warn, there will be no going back.
"This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is Armageddon," said Charles W. Colson, the founder of Prison Fellowship Ministries and an eminent evangelical voice, speaking to pastors in a video promoting Proposition 8. "We lose this, we are going to lose in a lot of other ways, including freedom of religion."
Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, a conservative Christian lobby based in Washington, said in an interview, "It's more important than the presidential election."
The other side of the labeling divide, by contrast,contained just a single reference to the "many liberal religious leaders" against Prop. 8, who Goodstein cued up to dismiss the conservative charges as "scare tactics."