A vigorous — and expensive — grass-roots campaign in support of a ballot measure to ban gay marriage in California has paid off. With almost all electorate results in, Proposition 8 had 52 per cent of the vote. This measure would amend the state constitution to specify that only marriages between one man and one woman would be recognized as valid in the state. It would trump a May 2008 ruling by the California Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage. The court, however, reached its decision in the face of a previous ban on same-sex marriage passed overwhelmingly by voters in 2000.

The latest poll confirms that public opinion in California has not changed as much as gay activists claimed, and is a major set-back to their campaign in a state they hoped would be a leader in legalising same-sex marriage. About 18,000 same-sex marriages conducted since May are now in doubt, but activists intend to contest the voters’ decision in court.

“People believe in the institution of marriage,” said Frank Schubert, leader of the “Yes on 8” campaign. “It’s one institution that crosses ethnic divides, that crosses partisan divides. … People have stood up because they care about marriage and they care a great deal.” Exit polls showed that Proposition 8 received critical support from black voters who flocked to the polls to support Barack Obama for president. About seven in 10 blacks voted in favour of the ban, while Latinos supported it and whites were split.

Same-sex marriage bans were also approved in Arizona (by 56 per cent) and Florida (62 per cent) while Arkansas voters approved a measure banning unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents. Some 27 states had already passed bans on same-sex marriage before Tuesday’s election. Spending by both sides of California’s Prop 8 campaign reached an estimated $74 million — the most expensive social issues campaign in US history and the most expensive this year outside the race for the White House. ~ AP/Google, Nov 5

 

Carolyn Moynihan

Carolyn Moynihan is the former deputy editor of MercatorNet