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California votes to ban gay marriage

Text by AFP

Latest update : 2008-12-09

Californians narrowly approved a ban on gay marriages in a referendum Wednesday, only months after the practice was legalised. The ban leaves thousands of gay couples who tied the knot in a legal limbo.

 

FRANCE 24 Observers: could a French report have led to a ban on gay marriage in California?

 

A ban on gay marriages in California has been approved in a referendum only months after the practice was legalized prompting thousands of same-sex couples to tie the knot, officials said Wednesday.

The secretary of state said that with 95 percent of precincts reporting, the proposal to limit marriage to members of the opposite sex had been approved by 52.1 percent of voters, compared with 47.9 percent who voted against.

The referendum called for the California constitution to be amended by adding the phrase that: "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."

Known as "Proposition 8," the proposal was trumpeted by conservative groups as the people's way of overturning the state Supreme Court's ruling in May that legalized gay marriage.

The court's ruling had overturned an earlier plebiscite in 2000 when 61 percent of voters agreed marriage should be defined as only being between a man and a woman.

The result leaves thousands of gay couples in a legal limbo after they had rushed to get married in California since June.

They include some celebrity marriages such as comedienne Ellen DeGeneres who wed her long-time girlfriend Portia de Rossi in August.

Local media reported that a lesbian couple, who previously won the right to marry with the Supreme Court ruling, were to file a new suit to stop the referendum from coming into effect.

Their attorney Gloria Allred, who helped Robin Tyler and Diane Olson win the ruling that a ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, announced she would file a new suit later Wednesday.

"The new lawsuit will contain a new and controversial legal argument as to why Prop 8 is unconstitutional," Allred said.

And Japanese-American actor George Takei, who played Mr Sulu in the long-running series "Star Trek", and who married his longtime partner Brad Altman in September, said his marriage would stay remain valid no matter what.

"There's nothing in the language of Proposition 8 that says it's retroactive, so our marriage is going to be valid," he told a local TV channel.

"But what we're concerned about is the young people of the future. Proposition 8 will eliminate in the constitution of the state their options of really being who they want to be."

Takei and Altman were the first couple to receive a marriage license in West Hollywood when California began issuing them to gay couples on June 17.

Hollywood stars including Brad Pitt and Steven Spielberg as well as multinational companies such as Apple had flocked to the "No" camp against the ban, with donations of up to 100,000 dollars.

But supporters unleashed a flood of hard-hitting ads especially targeting the Hispanic community and its traditional Christian and family values.

The Los Angeles Times reported some 18,000 same-sex couples had gotten married in the past four and a half months.

Arizona and Florida also passed similar referendums by large margins Tuesday, stating that marriage was the legal union between a man and a woman.

The largest was in Florida where 62 percent of voters approved the measure compared to 38 percent against.

In Arkansas, voters approved a ban on couples who live together without being married, whether gay or straight, from adopting or fostering children.

Date created : 2008-11-05

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