Prop 8 repeal bid begins

(San Francisco, California) A group seeking to repeal Proposition 8, which bans same-sex marriage in California, is expected to begin collecting signatures this week to have the measure overturned.

The Secretary of State on Friday gave the group Yes on Equality until Aug. 17 to collect the nearly 700,000 signatures needed to qualify its initiative for the 2010 ballot.

It is one of two ballot measures to repeal Prop 8. Earlier this month, two college students were given the OK to start collecting signatures for a proposed ballot measure to strike the word “marriage” from all state laws.

The measure would repeal the ban, and define domestic partnerships as unions between all couples, regardless of sexual orientation.

Prop 8 grew out of last May’s state Supreme Court ruling that opened marriage to gay and lesbian couples. It was passed by voters in November by a slim 52 percent. By that time, some 18,000 same-sex couples had wed.

The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights immediately filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the vote.

Earlier this month, the California Supreme Court heard arguments in the case. The court has 90 days to issue a ruling.

A Field Poll released after the court hearing shows that prospective voters remain deeply divided over the issue of same-sex unions.

Forty-eight percent said they would vote to repeal the proposition. Forty-seven percent would vote to maintain the ban.  Five percent are undecided.

When the 3.5 percent margin of error is factored in it is a dead heat.

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