The advertising battle over Proposition 8, the proposed same-sex marriage ban, has hinged in recent days around proponents' assertions that unless their initiative passes schools will be forced to teach children about same-sex marriages.
To rebut that, the No side called in the state's top elected education official, state Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O'Connell, the former Ventura County legislator.
O'Connell appears in a TV ad, saying: "Prop. 8 has nothing to do with schools ... Our schools aren't required to teach anything about marriage."
The Yes side counters by saying the vast majority of schools, although not required to do so by the state, do teach about marriage as part of their comprehensive sex education curriculum.
For San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, there must be a certain irony about the television advertising campaigns over Prop. 8. Newsom, by allowing same-sex marriages to take place in his city, became the symbolic champion of the movement. But now that the debate is being waged on the airways, it is Newsom who has become the star of the Yes side's commercials, which feature his taunting declaration that legalized same-sex marriage is "going to happen whether you like it or not."
Newsom clearly hoped his prominence on the issue would give him a leg up among Democratic voters should he decide to seek his party's nomination for governor in 2010. Now it is O'Connell, one of his potential opponents in the Democratic primary, who has been thrust into a leading role in the campaign.