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by Jennifer Vanasco - SGN Contributing Writer

My little sister is getting married, and so last weekend we were driving through the beautiful small towns north of Manhattan, looking for a pastoral spot for the ceremony overlooking the Hudson.

It was a perfect day. Warm, golden light filtered through fiery leaves; the water sparkled like the diamond on my sister's hand.

"I might like to get married here," I said, turning around in a circle in one potential spot. "If you didn't."

"Well, you'll probably get married before me, seeing how fast things are going with you two," she said. "Can you even get married in New York?"

"Not yet," I said. "But if Democrats gain control of the state senate next week, then New York will likely have marriage. The governor already said he'd sign the bill. And you know, we could get married in Connecticut or Massachusetts. New York recognizes those marriages."

"Or California," she said. "I could see you getting married by the ocean there."

"Maybe California," I replied. "It depends on Proposition 8."

Proposition 8. So much depends on Proposition 8. Next to the presidential election - and perhaps surpassing it - Proposition 8 will decide the future of Gay marriage.

As the anti-Gay marriage Frank Schubert said in a recent Associated Press story, "This is the ball game. There is no other battle than this one. & If you are concerned about marriage and how it gets to be defined, this is where it will be decided."

This is where it will be decided.

And it will be decided next week.

If California keeps marriage and New York gets it, as seems likely, then (adding in the populations of Massachusetts and Connecticut), about 20 percent of the U.S. population will have state-sanctioned equal marriage.

That is a lot of people. And those people will fan across the country with their legitimate marriages, bringing lawsuits and eventually forcing every state in the Union to recognize this fundamental right.

But if Proposition 8 passes? Then marriage will be wiped out in California. The anti-Gay right will be re-energized. And that will make winning it in other states that much harder.

The battle is very, very close now, because both sides are pouring money into the Proposition 8 fight - about $60 million so far, an almost unbelievable number. Money is coming from all 50 states and some foreign countries.

The battle for Gay marriage is on, my friends, and it is being fought right now, today, in California.

This is where it will be decided.

You can send money. You should send money. Right now.

But at this point, less than a week before the election, almost better than money would be a phone call. We all know people who live in California. An uncle. A high school friend. Your sister's college roommate. Your old boss.

Make a list of those people. Google their phone numbers. And call them as if your rights depend on it - because they do.

Explain why this fight is personal to you. Tell a little bit of your story. If you're in love, say that. If you'd like to commit yourself to someone, say that, too. Ask them to think of you when they step into that voting booth, and ask them to vote for your personal right to marry. They are voting not just for Gay people in general, but also you, specifically.

Tell them that they have a chance to make a significant difference in one person's life. That person is you. Ask them to vote for you.

People have been sending around lovely e-mails talking about their commitment to their partners and spouses, and asking for support. But far more effective than e-mail is a personal phone call, as the Obama campaign, with all its volunteer phone banks, knows so well.

My sister and I stood on that hill, the Hudson sparkling before us.

I told her about a recent conversation I had with a young social conservative. I said that every time he said, "they" shouldn't have marriage, I told him to remember that "they" meant "me."

I told him that I was desperately in love; that I wanted to make a sacred commitment to my beloved, and that I wanted that commitment to be recognized by the state. There is nothing, I said, more conservative than that.

"You know," she said, "the engagement has really made a difference. I didn't expect it to, but it takes away the uncertainty. Instead of always asking if you should leave, you ask how you can work it out. And people are more supportive."

"Yes," I said. "Marriage is important. It helps sustain relationships. That's why I'm fighting so hard for it. That's why, to me, the Proposition 8 fight is almost more important than the presidential election."

That's what I believe. And that is the story I will tell the people in California this week when I call. Won't you tell your story, too?

Jennifer Vanasco is an award-winning, syndicated columnist. E-mail her at jennifer.vanasco@gmail.com.

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