Because of the spectacular, train-wreck-in-the-making aspect of this event, we are giving you, gentle reader, an extra day's notice about Wednesday's gay-marriage debate between Gloria Allred and Andy Pugno. Were any two combatants so different and yet so thoroughly matched in their steely determination to wring wisdom, emotion and publicity from an election?

Allred, left; Pugno, somewhere on the right.

Allred, of course, is the Los Angeles attorney who's become a jack-in-the-box figure popping up at tragedies and victim press conferences alike, whether she is representing Britney Spears' bodyguard or Rob Lowe's nanny. More pertinently, she filed the first lawsuit against Prop 8 after its November victory, representing Robin Tyler and Diane Olson, the first same-sex couple to marry in L.A. County last year.

For his part Pugno (his real name), is a Folsom attorney and works for the rightwing SLAPP-suit factory known as the Pacific Justice Institute. He became Prop 8's legal counsel and human face (no photographs available) in its tireless 2008 PR campaign. In one shrewd move, he invited the anti-8 side to debate the issue and, to its everlasting shame, the latter refused. Pugno started out as a fresh-faced campus conservative in the early 1990s and graduated to become a staff spokesman for Assemblyman Pete Knight (R-Palmdale) and Proposition 22, Knight's anti-gay marriage initiative that passed handily in 1996.

The Town Hall L.A. show starts 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, January 14. National Center for the Preservation of Democracy,

111 N. Central Ave., Little Tokyo; $20. (213) 628-8141.

LA Weekly