California bans same-sex marriage

While celebrations over Barack Obama's victory in the presidential elections dominated US streets, gay rights supporters rallied against the banning of same-sex marriage in California.

Up to 4000 gay, lesbian and transgender people and their supporters took to the streets across the state on November 5 to protest the narrow victory of "Proposition Eight" — a referendum on whether to introduce a ban placed on the ballot in California to coincide with the presidential election.

Same-sex marriage was legalised in California in June. Up to 18,000 same sex couples got married, including well-known celebrities such as Ellen Degeneres and Portia Rossi.

"Prop Eight", as it became known, proposed to amend the state constitution to define marriage as only between a man and a woman. It passed with 52% in favour.

It is unclear what will happen to the official status of the same-sex marriages carried out since June — many by couples from other states.

One report stated that same-sex marriages that occurred between June and November will remain legal. California will still allow same-sex civil unions.

Gay rights activists held street protests in Los Angeles and San Francisco after the Prop 8 vote. Four people were detained. Television cameras captured one protester struggling with officers and being struck on the legs by batons.

Several lawsuits have been filed in a bid to overturn the decision.

"Prop 2" was also successful, a referendum on the outlawing of small chicken cages. This resulted in one placard at the same-sex rights protest declaring "Chicken 1 — Gays 0"

In a November 6 Los Angeles Times article, Ron Prentice from the Protect Marriage Coalition that fought for the ban claimed that "the people of California stood up for traditional marriage and reclaimed this great institution. We are gratified that voters chose to protect traditional marriage and to enshrine its importance in the state Constitution."

Obama supports allowing states to decide the issue of same-sex marriages. He does not, however, support granting federal same-sex marriage rights, although he has indicated support for federal civil unions.

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