Fresno Has a Long Way to Go on Gay Marriage

11/07/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

2008-10-07-ucfresno_map1.jpg In Fresno, a Roman Catholic priest came out against Proposition 8 last Sunday during mass. In a televised account, KFSN-TV reports:

Father Geoffrey Farrow of the Saint Paul Newman Center in northeast Fresno shocked parishioners Sunday morning when he came out against Proposition 8, an initiative that would eliminate the right for same sex couples to marry in California. After 23 years as an ordained Catholic Priest, Father Geoffrey Farrow has likely given his final mass. . . .

Sunday mass ended with about half the congregation giving a standing ovation. Outside, parishioners had mixed reaction about the priest's remarks. Esmeralda Gonzalez, Parishioner, says "My reaction was extremely shocking. I believe that as the body of Christ and as being Catholics we are made to follow by commandments. And God made it to be Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

Of course, Father Farrow (who, by the way courageously and movingly came out as gay to the TV reporter just before the mass), now loses his job, since the California Bishops have come out in favor of Proposition 8.

Much as states like Ohio and Michigan are the bellwether for the presidential election, Fresno -- not Los Angeles or San Francisco -- is the bellwether for Proposition 8. It's a large California city (metro population: 1 million) in the geographic center of the state. It's racially diverse, and split down the middle between Democrats and Republicans. But with no visible gay presence, it's pretty much a place where you can safely get on TV and say "God made it to be Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve."

Watch the TV clip. Half of the parishioners are standing and clapping, half are sitting there with arms folded and in utter shock over what they've just heard. That's the audience we're facing on November 4, when gay marriage -- and Adam and Steve -- face the voters. And with the most recent poll by KPIX-TV in San Francisco showing that Prop 8 is leading in the polls, 47 percent to 42 percent, it's still an uphill battle.