"People have their reasons to think what they do. [We taught how to] draw people out and make sure they are heard," he said. "All of us like to be listened to."
The Human Rights Campaign's Groves said she was impressed by the lengths these campaigns went to reach deep into faith communities. As a veteran of the same-sex marriage fight, Graves was there when the movement struggled with this sort of outreach.
"It makes sense that we would have made some mistakes around that," Groves said. "LGBT people have been harmed by the church."
Perhaps the biggest mistake was around the gay marriage ban in California, known as Proposition 8.
Prop 8 mistakes
Debra Peevey was faith-based field organizer in Southern California during the fight against the Proposition 8 ballot initiative in 2008.
One reason she and her fellow gay rights activists lost that campaign was the way the religious conversation played out. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Mormons, along with the Roman Catholic Church actively campaigned for Prop 8. That framed the fight as one between secularists and believers.
"There was a resistance in engaging faith community," Groves said. "We kind of let the religious right define the space for us and that was a real learning that we got from that."
While religious organizations were pouring in money and manpower, said GLAAD's Murray, anti-Prop. 8 opponents were apprehensive in reaching out to religious allies and ineffective at building enthusiasm from sympathetic religious communities and leaders.
Both Murray and Groves describe the post-Prop 8 reflection period as a "turning point" for the gay-rights community that gave rise to this year's intense faith-based organizing.
Now, Peevey said, there's no going back: "I can't imagine that we will ever have a LGBT campaign where faith was not a part of the team."
At pro-same-sex marriage organizations like GLAAD, Murray said conversations are turning to where the next gay marriage fights will happen.
"It is really hard to tell where this is going to come up again," said Murray, adding that the next attempts to block or legalize gay marriage may happen legislatively in some states, as opposed to via ballot initiative.
He said gay rights groups want to tap into the Lutheran networks in Colorado, Illinois and Oregon early, to ensure that their LGBT outreach is well established by the time any ballot initiative or legislative efforts formally get under way.
By the time that happens, the gay rights community has learned, it may already be too late to frame the faith conversation around gay marriage.