LOS ANGELES – Up to 175,000 people took part in Los Angeles' annual gay pride parade in West Hollywood Sunday, capping three days of flamboyant celebration.
Among those honored at this year's event were Robin Tyler and Troy Perry, two plaintiffs in the lawsuit that led to last month's hotly contested Supreme Court ruling which made California the second state in the nation to legalize same-sex "marriage."
As expected, only a few protestors were present throughout the parade, which has been held in Los Angeles every year since 1970, except for 1973, when infighting over crude displays the previous two years left the organizers in disarray. Pro-family advocates have been mindful of the liberal bias of most secular news agencies and their tendency to demonize those with conservative or biblical views.
"The major media would love to see us engage in fierce protests and hostile demonstrations of outrage against the licensing of same-sex 'marriages,'" Ronald Prentice, chairman of the ProtectMarriage.com coalition, told The Associated Press in an interview last month.
He pointed out, however, that the "battle is not against the same-sex couples who are pursuing the opportunity to `marry' granted them by the activist judges on the California Supreme Court."
Instead of platforms such as the L.A. Gay Pride Parade, pro-family advocates are taking their message to where it matters most – conservative California voters.
Throughout California, efforts are being made to help amplify the concerns of more than half of Californians who reject the state Supreme Court's decision to allow same-sex "marriages" and back the proposed constitutional amendment to protect marriage.
According to a recent Los Angeles Times/KTLA poll, 29 percent of Californians surveyed strongly approved the Supreme Court's decision while 12 percent somewhat approved. On the other side, 42 percent of Californians surveyed strongly disapproved of the decision while 10 percent somewhat disapproved.
And pastors and their churches are playing a very significant role in rallying Californians to make a difference in November.
"[T]he Church cannot approve of redefining marriage, which has a unique place in God's creation, joining a man and a woman in a committed relationship in order to nurture and support the new life for which marriage is intended," bishops of the Catholic Archdiocese of Los Angeles had expressed in a statement last month.
"The meaning of marriage is deeply rooted in history and culture, and has been shaped considerably by Christian tradition," they said. "Its meaning is given, not constructed.
"'When marriage is redefined so as to make other relationships equivalent to it, the institution of marriage is devalued and further weakened,'" the bishops stated, citing a 2003 document on marriage and same-sex unions issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
While some religious leaders, particularly Catholics, were involved in passing Proposition 22, the 2000 initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, strategists predicted a much greater involvement by evangelical churches in this election.
"We are working with all the churches who are willing to work with us," Frank Schubert, the campaign manager for the initiative, told the L.A. Times last month. "It's woven together to form what we hope will be the largest grassroots campaign in California history."
According to the Times, political analyst Tony Quinn said the involvement of the pastors could be significant, especially because many conservatives are relatively disengaged by the election this year.
"This ... could bring people to the polls that would not otherwise vote. The churches can do that," he said.
Conservative leaders are hoping for a massive Christian outpouring of support for the proposed amendment – one that will dwarf the crowds that took to the streets of West Hollywood over the weekend.