Democracy, shemocracy :

The recent run of states legalizing gay marriage—punctuated Wednesday by Maine becoming the fifth state to do so—has increased the likelihood that California voters will face another ballot measure on the issue as early as next year, according to strategists on both sides.

The California Supreme Court is expected to uphold Proposition 8, November’s ballot measure banning same-sex marriage, with a decision coming in the next few weeks. Both sides are already gearing up for another political campaign likely to come in 2010.

As recently as a few months ago, some gay activists feared 2010 would be too soon. But the fact that same-sex marriage is now legal in five states, with New York, New Jersey and New Hampshire poised to follow, has changed the political climate, they say.

“There is no doubt we are witnessing an enormous and unprecedented sea change in both public opinion and momentum on the issue of marriage equality,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights. “I believe the electorate nationally and in California is in a different place when it comes to marriage equality than it was six months ago.”

Frank Schubert, who ran the Yes on 8 campaign in California, said the decisions in New England and Iowa gave same-sex marriage activists a boost.

But Schubert said the battle is far from over: Voters in Iowa and Maine might overturn those decisions. And helping to persuade them might be none other than Schubert himself, who is advising a national group on how to copy California’s defeat of same-sex marriage.

“There’s no doubt the other side is going to try to make great hay out of Iowa and Maine . . . but none of those places are California. And California voters have now twice voted on this,” he said. “What part of ‘No’ don’t they understand?”

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