Homosexual Activists Disappointed by California Marriage Defeat

gay-marriage-6.jpgIn a heartbreaking defeat for the gay-rights movement, California voters put a stop to gay marriage,
creating uncertainty about the legal status of 18,000 same-sex couples
who tied the knot during a four-month window of opportunity opened by
the state’s highest court.

Passage of a constitutional amendment
against gay marriage — in a state so often at the forefront of liberal
social change — elated religious conservatives who had little else to
cheer about in Tuesday’s elections. Gay activists were disappointed and
began looking for battlegrounds elsewhere in the back-and-forth fight
to allow gays to wed.

“There’s something deeply wrong with putting the rights of a minority up to a majority vote,” said Evan Wolfson, a gay-rights lawyer who heads a group called Freedom to Marry. “If this were being done to almost any other minority, people would see how un-American this is.”

Legal
skirmishing began immediately, with gay-rights groups challenging the
newly passed ban in court Wednesday and vowing to resist any effort to
invalidate the same-sex marriages that took place following the state Supreme Court decision in May.

The
amendment, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, overrides that
court ruling by defining marriage as the union of one man and one
woman. Thirty states now have adopted such measures, but the California
vote marks the first time a state took away gay marriage after it had
been legalized.

Gay-marriage bans also
passed on Tuesday in Arizona and Florida, with 57 percent and 62
percent support, respectively, while Arkansas voters approved a measure
aimed at gays that bars unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or
foster parents.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are now the only states to allow same-sex marriage.

Even as the last votes were being counted in California, the American Civil Liberties Union
and other opponents of the ban filed a challenge with the state Supreme
Court. They contended that California’s ballot cannot be used to
undermine one group’s access to rights enjoyed by other citizens.

The city attorneys in Los Angeles and San Francisco also filed a request with the Supreme Court to invalidate the amendment’s approval, arguing that it deprives gays of constitutional rights.

The measure’s passage casts a shadow of uncertainty over the marriages performed in the past four months. California State Attorney General Jerry Brown has said existing gay marriages will remain valid, but other legal experts said challenges are likely.

Amid the uncertainty, some gay couples continued applying for marriage licenses Wednesday. They succeeded in some jurisdictions and not others.

Jake Rowe, 27, and James Eslick, 29, were in the midst of getting their marriage license at Sacramento City Hall when someone from the clerk’s office stopped the wedding Wednesday morning.

“I’m
thoroughly surprised,” Rowe said. “I thought Californians had come to
the point where they realized discrimination wasn’t right.”

Some newlyweds took a positive approach.

“I’m
really OK,” said Diana Correia of Berkeley, who married her partner of
18 years, Cynthia Correia, on Sunday in front of their two children and
80 relatives and friends. “I hope the marriage holds, but we are
already married in our hearts, so nobody can take that away.”

Proposition 8
became the focus of the most expensive social-issues campaign in U.S.
history, with the rival sides raising a combined $74 million. Religious
groups, including the Mormon church and the Roman Catholic Church,
played pivotal roles in pushing for the ban.

“People
believe in the institution of marriage,” said Frank Schubert,
co-manager of the Yes on 8 campaign. “It’s one institution that crosses
ethnic divides, that crosses partisan divides.”

Exit
polls revealed dramatic demographic gaps in the gay-marriage vote.
While about six in 10 voters under 30 opposed the ban, about the same
proportion of those 65 and older supported it. There were sharp racial
discrepancies as well. Even as black voters overwhelmingly backed Barack Obama — a gay-rights supporter — in the presidential race, about seven in 10 of them voted against gay marriage, compared with about half of white voters.

Denise Fernandez, a 57-year-old black woman from Sacramento, said she
voted for Obama and Proposition 8. “I believe a Christian is held
accountable,” she said.

Obama had a nuanced position on the issue, saying he opposes gay marriage while also speaking out against Proposition 8.

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force,
did not directly criticize Obama, but said: “We’d hope for a day when
candidates who are supportive of same-sex marriage are unafraid to
clearly state that to the voters.”

Gay-marriage proponents say New York, where the Democrats now
control both the Legislature and the governor’s office for the first
time in 35 years, may be a promising battleground. New Jersey also is
considered a gay-marriage prospect.

“We pick ourselves up and trudge on,” said Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights.
“There has been enormous movement in favor of full equality in eight
short years. That is the direction this is heading, and if it’s not
today or it’s not tomorrow, it will be soon.”

Source: AP

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