Discord among gay-marriage opponents leads to dueling voter initiatives in California

Despite their state's history of promoting gay rights, Californians have been split on the subject of same-sex marriage _ a contrast that's expected to become even more pronounced soon because of two overlapping voter initiatives.

Fearing that courts eventually will support the rights of gay couples to marry, opponents want voters to amend the state Constitution to allow only heterosexual unions.

However, a rift among conservatives has led competing groups to promote two different gay-marriage bans and snipe at each other over which is best. Both petitions would do away with rights associated with domestic partnerships as well as same-sex unions.

Conservatives worry the infighting could doom the initiatives, while gay-rights advocates say voters are not likely to discard established domestic partnership rights.

Voters agreed five years ago in a ballot initiative, Proposition 22, that marriage should be only between a man and a woman, but courts said the law violated gay couples' civil rights.

In the latest campaign, a group called Vote Yes Marriage favors a detailed, multi-paragraph amendment rescinding the marriage-like rights lawmakers granted domestic partners over the last five years while defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The other group, Protect Marriage, does it in one sentence: "A marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state."

The sponsors have until January to gather 598,105 signatures to put the amendments on next June's ballot, AP reported.

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