Californians Head into 'Family Voter Weekend' with Pro-Marriage Momentum

One week after voting season officially kicked off in California with the mailing of absentee ballots, families throughout the state will come together to discuss their values and ideals about families during "Family Voter Weekend" and make their vote starting Saturday.

Also this weekend, the last broadcast presentation in a three-part simulcast will go out to hundreds of churches and thousands of believers across the state of California with the intention of mobilizing voters through educating them on how Proposition 8 will impact rights, children, churches, education, public health, faith, and society as a whole.

"Prop. 8 is much more than about marriage," exclaim supporters of the ballot initiative that would outlaw same-sex marriage in California.

"The way you vote on Nov. 4, 2008, will change your world!"

With less than three weeks before voters head for the polls, support for Proposition 8 – which would overturn the California Supreme Court's ruling allowing gay marriage – has been continuing to pull ahead, last week making a 10-point reversal in only 11 days after a CBS 5/SurveyUSA survey showed Proposition 8 support leading 47 percent to 42 percent. A Field Poll just last month showed the amendment was losing.

A concurrent poll released from Lake Research Partners, a leading Democratic public opinion research firm, confirmed a change in the numbers with 47 percent of California voters for the amendment and 43 percent of voters against it.

Pastors and church leaders involved in the movement to protect marriage credit several campaign strategies for this turn-around, not least of which is the 40-day prayer and fasting commitment of thousands across the state, which began about the same time the numbers started to shift.

"No natural occurrence could explain such a dramatic shift in these numbers," said Jim Garlow, lead pastor at Skyline Church in La Mesa and one of the team of pastors overseeing the church outreach campaign, in a released statement.

And unlike opponents of Proposition 8, which have received large donations from celebrities in often not-so-family-friendly Hollywood, funding for the "Yes on Proposition 8" campaign has largely come from grassroots supporters.

More than 60 percent of the donations have been less than $100, contributing to a total of well over 20 million raised to date, "Yes on 8" reports. Furthermore, gifts under $1,000 to campaign outnumber contributions to "No on 8" at a ratio of 12:1.

"We are encouraged by these numbers, and are heartened to see the response to all of our hard work paying off," said Garlow. "However, we are not celebrating yet. We take this as reason to continue our effort even more vigorously as we race toward the finish line."

On the other side, Steve Smith, manager of Equality for All, a coalition of groups working to defeat the gay marriage ban, predicted the bank accounts for the two sides would even up by Election Day on Nov. 4.

"What's happening is a little seesaw battle," Smith told The Associated Press after Proposition 8 backer ProtectMarriage.com reported taking in $25.4 million through Sept. 30 of this year. The main committee opposing the measure reportedly raised $15.8 million in donations around that time.

This weekend dozens of California pastors will continue to preach sermons on the topic of marriage and family, and families will be gathered to cast their vote-by-mail ballots in advance of the election, so that they are free to work to get other voters to the polls on Election Day.

A simulcast event, "The ABCs of Protecting Marriage" will originate from Skyline Church in La Mesa at 5 p.m. PT on Oct. 19, carried via satellite to nearly 200 other churches across the state. It follows two earlier simulcast events that were geared toward pastors and Christian leaders as well as youth.

The 40-day prayer and fasting initiative continues as well, with Christians all over the country joining those in California to pray about the marriage issue.

And in two weeks, tens of thousands will travel to Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego for TheCall California, a day-long fasting and prayer event on Nov. 1 for the State of California and the passage of Proposition 8.

"[I]f we work together and stand up for our rights, the majority rule can win out over activist judges in California," Garlow said.

Oct. 20 is the last day to register to vote while requests to receive vote-by-mail ballots in most California counties must be made by Oct. 28. Californians can, however, walk in and request a mail-in ballot up until Election Day. But ballots must be returned by Nov. 4.

On the Web:
www.protectmarriagesimulcast.com