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Same-sex marriage advocates strike gold and are spending it

October 23, 2008 |  5:14 pm

Boosted by $4 million from a Beverly Hills fundraising gala at billionaire Ron Burkle's estate, foes of an initiative to ban same-sex marriage have significantly increased their ad buy -- prompting the measure's backers to scramble for more money.

Spending on the high-profile initiative is fast approaching $60 million, making it by far the most costly ballot measure anywhere in the country this year.

Backers of Proposition 8, which would create a California constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman, said they are being outspent this week by more than $2.7 million on television and radio.

In an interview today, Frank Schubert, chief strategist for the supporters of Proposition 8, detailed the spending disparity, showing that opponents of the measure are outspending the yes side by $1.9 million on television and $830,000 on radio.

"If we can't respond, we're not going to win," Schubert said. Unless he can increase his ad buy, he said, foes of Proposition 8 could outspend supporters by $5 million by election day.

Schubert said he has been calling his big donors all day pleading for more money. He also has sent small donors an unusually urgent e-mail pitch, which opened by saying: "The institution of marriage is in cardiac arrest in California, and I am pleading with you to help save it."

"This is the moment in the campaign where traditional marriage will live or it will die depending on what happens in the next 72 hours," Schubert said.

The Burkle gala earlier this week amounted to a major show of support for same-sex marriage by Hollywood, which had been slow to jump into the fray.

Political consultant Chad Griffin, raising money in Hollywood to defeat the initiative, said hundreds of people attended the gala. Mary J. Blige and Melissa Etheridge performed, and Hollywood figures in attendance included Rob Reiner, James Brolin and Barbra Streisand, Bruce Cohen and Greg Berlanti.

Politicians who showed up included three potential Democratic gubernatorial candidates: Lt. Gov. John Garamendi, Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Noting that the Yes-on-8 side had been outraising the no side for most of the campaign, Griffin said today: "There was a lot of catching up to do. . . . Perhaps this will get us closer and allow us to counter their scare tactics."

Now, here's a cool tool: Track where the pro and con money is coming from. and try it out. Go here to this special interactive LATimes.com map

-- Dan Morain

Speaking of cool: Go here and register to have alerts sent to your cellphone for each new Ticket item.

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