Prop 8, gay marriage supporters battle over logo parody

The opposing forces in California's war over gay marriage have found something else to squabble about: the gay-marriage camp's mockery of the traditional-marriage camp's logo.

The squabble is playing out in Sacramento in the courtroom of U.S. District Judge Lawrence K. Karlton.

A stylized silhouette of a man and a woman and a boy and a girl, all with raised arms beneath a banner reading, "Yes On 8 Protect Marriage," is the logo of Proposition 8, the 2008 ballot initiative amending the state constitution to declare that marriage is only between a man and a woman.

Since the campaign on behalf of Proposition 8 began using the logo on Jan. 31, 2008, it has employed it in a number of ways, most recently on its Web site.

The Courage Campaign Institute began using an almost-identical logo — the adult figures both are wearing dresses and the banner reads "Prop 8 Trial Tracker" — last week on a Web site it launched for updates and commentary on the San Francisco trial of a federal constitutional challenge to the amendment.

The Proposition 8 coalition is defending the amendment in court because the state would not.

Soon after the Trial Tracker logo showed up, the Proposition 8 promoters cried foul.

The Courage Campaign argues the slightly altered logo is funny, a parody that is cloaked in free-speech protection.

"You conceded over the phone that bloggers and online commentators noted the changes from man to woman and are making fun of your client, demonstrating that the public notices the difference and gets the joke," attorney Nathan B. Sabri wrote to Proposition 8 attorney John M. Skeriotis.

Sabri further said such "creative works are designed to poke fun … (and) are the very essence of parody."

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