With the arrival of legal gay and lesbian marriages in California, same-sex marriage opponents are working feverishly to render those same marriages illegal.

A voter’s initiative to again outlaw marriage for gay and lesbian couples has already qualified for the November ballot and some recent polls show California voters are almost evenly split over whether same-sex marriage should be legal.

In 2000, a voter’s initiative passed by a strong majority of 51 percent of the vote in the state of California to restrict legal marriage as “between a man and a woman” only.

That voter’s initiative was overturned when the California Supreme Court ruled last month that preventing gay and lesbian couples from enjoying equal marriage rights was a violation of the state’s constitution.

However, gay marriage opponents believe the Supreme Court’s decision to allow equal marriage rights to same-sex couples was in error.

To overturn the Court’s ruling, they have introduced a new voter’s initiative known as the Marriage Protection Act.

If passed in November, it would amend the California state constitution to “provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California.”

Ron Prentice, executive director of ProtectMarriage.com and CEO of the California Family Council, says the support behind the petition drive to get the initiative on the November ballot, as well as recent polls, show voters are willing to get out in force to reinstate the ban on same-sex marriage.

“The response from the people of this state has been unprecedented in support of marriage’s legacy, by responding with an all-out volunteer signature campaign,” Prentice stated in a press release on ProtectMarriage.com.

“Passing this amendment is the only way for the people to override the four Supreme Court judges who want to re-define marriage for our entire society.”

According to a phone poll by the Capitol Resource Institute, 56 percent of Californians surveyed are opposed to allowing marriage for same-sex couples in the state.

However, a Field Poll survey found 51 percent of respondents opposed a voter’s initiative to ban same-sex marriage, with only 43 percent in favour of amending the state constitution to restrict marriage to heterosexual couples.

Even in the midst of celebrating a great victory for marriage equality in the United States, gay rights activists are gearing up for the long battle ahead to keep that victory alive through November and beyond.

“Tuesday, June 17th is a day about love—not politics,” Human Rights Campaign president Joe Solmonese wrote in the HRC.com weekly message posted last Friday.

“It’s about fairness and justice for couples who’ve been hitherto told by the government that their relationships are ‘less than.’ It’s a day for celebration.

“It’s about gay and lesbian couples who can’t wait even one more day to declare their unending love and commitment.

“And in California, people are beginning to understand that.

“A Field poll revealed that, for the first time since the poll began in 1977, a majority of Californians now support marriage for gay and lesbian couples.

“This is certainly an occasion to celebrate. But we must not let the intense battle ahead of us get too far from our minds. We must continue to fight to protect this hard-won victory,” Solmonese said.

“All civil rights groups understand that fundamental rights, like the freedom to marry the person you love, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, those shouldn’t be on the ballot,” said Geofff Kors, executive director of Equality California, according to NPR.org.

“And I think ultimately Californians don’t think government should be telling anyone who to marry.”

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