FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - Hundreds of people waived signs and rallied at Fresno City Hall on Sunday to show support for the voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in California, a day after thousands marched in the area against the ban.
People attending the rally wore T-shirts and held signs that read "Still standing in the middle for marriage," as area religious leaders and politicians spoke in support of Proposition 8, the voter-approved measure that restricts nuptials to a union between a man and a woman.
Fresno Pastor Jim Franklin of Cornerstone Church, an organizer of the event, told the crowd that he believed Prop. 8 would likely survive any upcoming efforts to overturn it through initiatives on the 2010 or 2012 ballots.
"They are losing ground. We are gaining ground," Franklin said. "When people say it's inevitable, they just don't understand. 'The Times They Are A-Changing,' and they are changing to our side."
More than two dozen counter protesters shouted at speakers during the rally.
As former Fresno Mayor Alan Autry took the stage, the counter demonstrators chanted "Shame on you!"
"You have that right," Autry said. "We fully expect you to come back in 2010. We will make a stand, and in 2012 we will make a stand again."
On Saturday, gay marriage advocates marched in the area, vowing to continue fighting for same-sex rights despite the state Supreme Court's decision to uphold Prop. 8, which upheld the ban on gay marriage in the state's Constitution.
On Sunday about 250 gay and civil rights advocates met in Fresno to brainstorm and plan their strategy to repeal the same sex marriage ban. While no consensus was achieved, the participants discussed the merits of taking the fight to the ballot box in 2010 as opposed to waiting for 2012.
"The one thing we are certain about is that we are all in this together and that we are committed to winning marriage equality," said Vincent Jones, a facilitator at the Sunday meeting. "We want to make sure we have the resources to take advantage of opportunities in 2010 or 2012."
The sight of counter-protesters at Sunday evening's event did not sit well with some opponents of gay marriage attending the rally.
Alex Silva, 37, of Fresno, shouted at the gay rights advocates who were interrupting the speakers on stage.
"Go home and read the Bible and save yourself," he said.
Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.