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Gavin Newsom is about to become even more famous

September 29, 2008 |  7:47 am

Gavin Newsom, Democratic candidate for California governor, is about to get a lot of airtime — only there’s a twist.

The San Francisco mayor hopes to become governor in 2010. He famously began his tenure in 2004 by trying to legalize gay marriage when he officiated over same-sex marriages in San Francisco City Hall.

That move led to the California Supreme Court ruling earlier this year that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage — and spurred conservatives to place Proposition 8 on the Nov. 4 ballot that seeks to create a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

Now, backers of the initiative have bought nearly $10 million worth of airtime for a commercial to be broadcast statewide. The spot prominently features Newsom declaring to a cheering audience: “It is going to happen now, whether you like it or not.”

The 30-second commercial bashes the four judges in the 4-3 California Supreme Court decision who opened the way for same-sex marriage. It warns that the high court ruling could lead to people being sued over personal beliefs, churches losing tax-exempt status and “gay marriage taught in public schools.”

Foes of Proposition 8 began airing their opening ad last week. It’s a much softer spot that features a gray-haired couple, Sam and Julia Theron. The heterosexual couple talks about how they raised their three children with equal amounts of love but that one, daughter Liz Theron, who is lesbian, would not have the right to marry if Proposition 8 were to be approved.

Backers, funded primarily by religious conservatives, have raised more than $18 million. They're seeking at least another $3.6 million to remain on the air through the Nov. 4 election.

Foes have raised upward of $13 million. Whether that gap continues remains to be seen. With Hollywood celebrities such as Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg involved, foes of the initiative are sure to raise millions more in the coming weeks.

— Dan Morain