Gay marriage friends and foes have begun their showdown on the airwaves in California. Both sides have ads running in most markets in an attempt to influence voters on a November 4th constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage in the state.

Opponents of gay marriage hit the ground running with an initial $10 million ad buy that started on Monday.

The first Yes-on-8 (Proposition 8) commercial to air begins with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom at a May 15th rally at City Hall, where he is seen celebrating the state Supreme Court's decision legalizing gay marriage.

“This door's wide open now. It's going to happen – whether you like it or not,” Newsom declares to a cheering crowd.

The reason for Newsom's inclusion in the video is obvious: He appears self-satisfied and smug as he declares, “Whether you like it or not.”

Producers of the 30-second spot immediately pounced on the cocky image of gay marriage's most ardent ally, using it freely throughout. When a female announcer says, “We don't have to accept this [gay marriage],” Newsom reappears and boisterously declares, “Whether you like it or not.”

The ad warns that without Proposition 8, people would be sued over personal beliefs, churches could loose their tax exemption, and gay marriage would be taught in public schools.

Gavin Newsom is often credited with opening gay marriage in California. In 2004, he ordered San Francisco clerks to issue marriage licenses to gay couples against state law. Those marriages were eventually invalidated by the state Supreme Court. But a May decision by the court found a 2000 voter-approved gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Since then thousands of gay couples have wed in the Golden State.

Newsom continues to be actively involved in the gay marriage fight, even as he prepares to run for governor in 2010.

“These people make their careers attacking people like me,” Newsom told the Los Angeles Times. “This effort is so much bigger than me. It is about real people. It is about denying people their civil right.”

He called the ad “classic distraction.”

Supporters of gay marriage have also taken to the airwaves with their own ad featuring pro-gay group Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) board member Sam Thoron and his wife Julia speaking out in support of gay marriage and against Proposition 8.

The Thorons make a sincere and heartfelt pitch for gay marriage, “All we have ever wanted for our [lesbian] daughter is that she be treated with the same dignity and respect as her brothers – with the same freedoms and responsibilities as every other Californian.”

PFLAG's Steve Ralls wrote at the Huffington Post about the idea to use parent advocates in the commercial, “It may be parents who are able to best make the case for marriage equality. Who, after all, knows what's best for their kids more than they do?”

While the ad's straightforward appeal by the No-on-8 campaign attempts to charm over undecided voters, a Californians Against Hate advertisement is decidedly bloodier.

In that ad, an innocent looking little girl counts the pedals she is plucking off a daisy. It is eerily reminiscent of the 1964 President Johnson commercial that ends with the detonation of a nuclear bomb, which was so frightening it ran only once.

The bomb in this ad is San Diego businessman Terry Caster, who became the group's second target when he donated $293,000 to gay marriage foes at the Protect Marriage campaign. The group organized a call-in campaign that encourages people to call Caster and ask him why he donated so much money against gay marriage.

In the 43-second ad, to ominous music, our innocent-looking girl does the asking, “Why did you give so much money away grandpa?”

Campaign Manager Fred Karger called the ad “ground breaking,” and encouraged television stations to download a copy for broadcast at their website (