Opponents of gay marriage in California saw passage of Proposition 8, the constitutional amendment that makes gay marriage in the state verboten, as the finish line in deciding the fate of gay nups in the state, when, in fact, it appears to have been a mere pit stop. With the state Supreme Court taking up the validity of the anti-gay amendment, both sides are gearing up for a prolonged fight.

Opponents of Proposition 8 have already indicated that if their state Supreme Court bid to overturn the gay ban fails, they would seek to place a pro-gay marriage constitutional amendment on the 2010 ballot.

Proponents say if they loose, they too might reemerge with a new amendment in two years.

The gay marriage posturing began on the day after Election Day as gay activist opened new fronts on the debate: Pro-gay rights groups joined several California municipalities in challenging the validity of the newly-passed gay marriage ban, while crowds of gays, lesbians and their allies poured onto the streets of California to protest Proposition 8 – or, as gay activist have dubbed it, Proposition H8.

That left gay marriage ban supporters to cry stinking fish.

“Amidst all this lawlessness, harassment, trampling of civil rights and now domestic terrorism, one thing stands out: the deafening silence of our elected officials,” said Protect Marriage Campaign Co-Manager Frank Schubert said at a press conference ten days after passage of Proposition 8. “Not a single elected leader has spoken out against what is happening. Where is Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger while churches are being attacked? And where is Senator Dianne Feinstein while people are losing their jobs and grandmothers are being bullied by an angry mob?”

Schubert's “domestic terrorism” incident was an anthrax-like hoax of white powder mailings sent to several Mormon temples. The FBI, which is investigating the incidents, has confirmed the white powder to be non-toxic and has not publicly cited any evidence to link the incident to gay groups.

“Well, I think it's absolutely galling that the proponents of Proposition 8, who just spent $40 million in a deceitful campaign to strip a group of people of their fundamental rights claim victim status,” Molly McKay, a spokeswoman for Marriage Equality, told KPIX, a San Francisco CBS affiliate.

Governor Schwarzenegger was also attacked for his gay marriage support by Christian conservative Tony Perkins of the Family Research Council, who wrote to supporters: “Since Election Day, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has made statements supporting demonstrations against Proposition 8, and urging California's Supreme Court to block the amendment's enforcement ... Condoning street protests and supporting judicial activism scams to overturn a popularly approved state constitutional amendment approaches advocacy of anarchy. Gov. Schwarzenegger is playing a dangerous game, and it needs to stop. Now.”

Supporters of the gay marriage ban have also threatened to work to oust any state Supreme Court justice that votes to invalidate Proposition 8.

Neither side has disbanded their campaign. The pro-Proposition 8 side has retained their political consultants, Frank Schubert and Jeff Flint, who say they have already begun laying plans for the next campaign. And gay marriage supporters have accelerated their Internet-based community building efforts on websites such as Facebook and MySpace, in preparation for the gay marriage battle that lays ahead.

Meanwhile, bloggers and some gay activists are asking tough questions of their traditional suit-and-tie leaders. Prominent Atlantic columnist Andrew Sullivan recently posited on his blog: Is the Human Rights Campaign relevant? Openly gay Sullivan argues that the nation's largest gay and lesbian rights organization failed the gay rights movement in California.

“How many struggles do we have to wage with these people always, always failing to lead – before we demand accountability and reform?” Sullivan wrote earlier this week. “Losing a battle this important should mean, at least, the rolling of some heads. Or we have no accountability at all. What are we: the Bush administration?”

Wayne Besen, president of Truth Wins Out, a group dedicated to exposing the ex-gay myth, sounded a similar tone when he applauded the efforts of two bloggers who managed to pull off national protests in 300 cities against Proposition 8 with simple text messages and Internet-based social invitations.

“[At the rallies] there was an injection of raw energy and an infusion of new inspiration that has eluded our movement for more than a decade,” Besen wrote on his group's blog.

The future of gay marriage in California, and for that matter the country, remains clear as mud, but what is clear is that Proposition 8 failed in spades to put the matter to rest. Instead it has simultaneously managed to embolden gay marriage ban proponents and energize gays and lesbians. The gay marriage discussion will continue, whether you like it or not.