Opponents of a campaign to ban same-sex marriage in California said Tuesday that a new poll shows them in danger of losing -- unless people step forward with more contributions to pay for No on 8 television commercials.
The opposition has enjoyed a healthy lead in several surveys taken by polling organizations that do not have a stake in the campaign. But officials with the No on 8 campaign held a conference call with reporters Tuesday to announce that their own poll showed the measure would pass by four points. Opponents attributed the result to fewer television ads, which is, in turn, a result of the No on 8 campaign falling behind in fundraising.
Although the Yes on 8 campaign has not yet posted its latest fund-raising report, supporters said Tuesday that they have raised at least $25 million, compared with $15.75 million raised by the other side.
“As a result of not being able to match dollar for dollar, we have seen a change,” said Geoff Kors, the executive director of Equality California, which is fighting Proposition 8, the proposed amendment to the state Constitution that would define marriage as only between a man and a woman.
The announcement pleased supporters of Proposition 8. “I can understand their concern,” said Sonja Eddings Brown, spokeswoman for the Protect Marriage Coalition.
Although other polls throughout the summer have consistently shown Proposition 8 failing, she pointed to another recent poll, from CBS and SurveyUSA, which showed the measure leading slightly.
Typically, campaigns do not release their internal polling information. But opponents of Proposition 8 are clearly hoping to spur donations by dramatizing the threat to same-sex marriage.
Steve Smith, campaign manager for No on 8, said he wanted to be able to “match [opponents] dollar for dollar. If we don’t get there, voters won’t hear our messages.”
Smith also said his forces are being outspent in part because of a surge in contributions from Mormon Church members.
“I don’t think we have ever seen a single religion in the state . . . so significantly participate in one political campaign,” Smith said.
Officials with the Mormon Church did not respond to e-mails seeking comment.
Meanwhile, gay and lesbian Mormons are criticizing members of their faith who support Proposition 8, pointing out that Mormons were once persecuted for defining marriage outside the traditional view of one woman and one man.
“The Mormon Church teaches that we should be building families,” said David Melson, assistant executive director of Affirmation, a group of gay and lesbian Mormons. “Through measures like Proposition 8, they are working to tear families apart.”
It is unclear how far ahead backers of Proposition 8 are in terms of fund-raising. The campaign tried to file its latest finance report Monday, the deadline for making the disclosure. But Kate Folmar, spokeswoman for Secretary of State Debra Bowen, said the report was so voluminous that the state’s computer could not handle it. Technicians were working on the problem Tuesday, Folmar said.
Also this week, both campaigns ramped up their outreach to Latinos.
The Yes on 8 side began airing a commercial on dozens of Spanish television stations that warned that children would be taught about gay marriage if the proposition was not approved. The spot features a little girl whose class reads a fairy tale about a prince who can’t find a princess to marry -- so instead he marries a prince. Campaign officials said the ad would begin airing in English soon too.
The No on 8 campaign announced rallies in Latino neighborhoods. Los Angeles Unified School District board President Monica Garcia and others will gather at noon today for a rally and to open an office in East Los Angeles.
Times staff writers Dan Morain and Duke Helfand contributed to this report.