Passions, Budgets Sky-High Over Prop. 8

Bob Sodervick, right, waves the gay pride flag outside of City Hall in San Francisco, Tuesday, June 17, 2008. County clerk offices opened their doors Tuesday to hundreds of gay and lesbian couples with appointments to secure marriage licenses and exchange vows on the first full day same-sex nuptials were legal throughout California.(AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
When California's Supreme Court declared same-sex marriage legal, most polls showed majority support around the state. That's not the case anymore, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone reports.

"I am really worried," said Willie Brown, a former mayor of San Francisco.

Brown, one of the wise men of California politics, says the battle over Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage, is raising passions and money across the country.

The passion reaches into normally quiet neighborhoods, such as the one where Tom and Kelly Byrne put out a "Yes on 8" sign - only to have it answered by graffiti.

"I've heard that a lot, that we're 'haters,'" said Kelly Byrne, who opposes gay marriage.

For the Byrnes, voting "yes" on 8 is returning marriage to the meaning it has always held.

"I can't just redefine a word. I can't take the word 'heterosexual' and say that it means someone who has a sexual preference for plants, right? So it is by the same token, no one else should be able to take the word 'marriage' and redefine it to mean something else that they feel it should mean," said Tom Byrne.

Jeanne Rizzo and Pali Cooper feel strongly that the meaning of marriage should include them.

"There is something really special about a wedding and marriage," said Cooper, who supports gay marriage.

They fought all the way to California's Supreme Court, and won last May. Proposition 8 would ban future gay marriages.

"Now it really is about taking something away from us," said Rizzo. "That's not OK with me."

It's an issue that has been raising strong emotions and an impressive amount of money. More than $31 million has poured into the anti-same-sex marriage campaign.

But what could be priceless is the boost the campaign gets every Sunday in church.

"It's decision time in our lives today," said Pastor Edward Smith, who leaves no doubt how he expects his congregation to vote. "Our posture is we want to preserve marriage as being defined between a man and a woman from the beginning of time."

But on the other side, the campaign to keep same-sex marriage has raised more than $44 million, fueling the TV ad war.

With both sides viewing this vote as crucial, this is a campaign where both budgets and passions are sky high.

  • John Blackstone

    From his base in San Francisco, CBS News correspondent John Blackstone covers breaking stories throughout the West. That often means he is on the scene of wildfires, earthquakes, floods, hurricanes and rumbling volcanoes. He also reports on the high-tech industry in Silicon Valley and on social and economic trends that frequently begin in the West.