The next skirmish in California's battle over same-sex marriage will be in Fresno, where supporters plan a large rally to kick off a campaign they hope will change minds and votes. Their goal: to undo Proposition 8.
In choosing Fresno, supporters of same-sex marriage are moving far from the supportive urban environs of San Francisco and West Hollywood, and coming to hostile territory.
In November, the central San Joaquin Valley overwhelmingly approved Prop. 8, the statewide ballot initiative that eliminated the right of same-sex couples to marry.
Supporters of same-sex marriage plan to rally on the Saturday after the state Supreme Court rules on Prop. 8's legality. The high court has until June 3 to rule.
That ruling is widely expected to affirm the will of the voters. But supporters of same-sex marriage -- buoyed by decisions in Iowa, Maine and three other states to allow such marriages -- said they plan to put an initiative on the November 2010 ballot to legalize it in California
And if they want to have any chance for a statewide ballot-box victory, supporters say, they must win hearts and minds in Fresno and other parts of inland California that approved Prop. 8 by wide margins.
The rally is being called "Meet In The Middle For Equality." Actress Charlize Theron is expected to attend, and organizers predict the rally could attract up to 3,000 people from throughout California.
"It has a literal meaning in that Fresno is at California's midpoint, and it also has a figurative meaning in the sense that if advocates are going to change the way people think about same-sex marriage, we have to go to Fresno," Rick Jacobs, chairman of the Courage Campaign, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group that supports same-sex marriage, said of the rally's title.
It's unknown whether same-sex marriage supporters will run into any opposition here.
Read more at FresnoBee.com