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As of Friday, the initiative's supporters had raised nearly $2.3 million, its foes about $1.3 million. Consultants predict that by the time voters go to the polls 4 1/2 months from now, each side will have raised $15 million or more.
"In many people's minds, it is the civil rights issue of the day, if not the decade," said Steve Smith, the leading political consultant working to keep same-sex marriage legal in California. "People are very focused on it across the country."
The California initiative would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as being between a man and a woman. Voters approved similar wording in a 2000 ballot initiative, but the measure did not amend the state's Constitution. In May, the California Supreme Court ruled that denying gays the right to marry violated the Constitution