FRESNO, Calif. - Hundreds of same-sex couples marched yesterday through dusty California farm towns, gathering in the state's conservative center to push in less-receptive areas for acceptance of gay marriage.

Just days after the state's high court upheld a voter initiative that banned same-sex marriage, advocates vowed to win the hearts and minds of those who reject their unions. They are pledging to put a new initiative before voters to overturn the ban, perhaps as soon as next year.

The weekend-long event has attracted the movement's best-known activists and celebrities, including Charlize Theron.

Paying homage to the 1965 marches in Selma, Ala., that marked the peak of the civil rights movement, the "Meet in the Middle 4 Equality" protest began in Selma, Calif., the self-proclaimed raisin capital of the world. It then moved to Fresno.

Activists believe their campaign against Proposition 8 focused too much on liberal urban enclaves.