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Wednesday, 8 March, 2000, 16:11 GMT
California rejects gay marriage
two men embracing
Electorate split 60-40 over same-sex relationships
Californian voters have backed a pre-emptive move to ban official recognition of gay marriages.

Proposition 22 - which calls for a ban on recognising such marriages - was passed by 61%-39%.

Sponsored by Republican state senator Pete Knight, it was the most controversial of 20 propositions on the Super Tuesday presidential primary ballot.

Other measures which won support included a crackdown on juvenile crime and allowing gambling on Indian lands.

Supporters of Proposition 22 said it would protect Californians from the consequences of legal moves in states like Vermont, where legislation for same-sex marriage is forging ahead.

Taxes

"As Californians, we are proud of our diversity and tolerance but there are societal boundaries which should be preserved. Tonight we have preserved traditional marriage," Robert Glazier, communications director for the Yes-on-22 campaign, said.

However, the proposition did have its opponents, including the two Democrat candidates in the presidential race, Al Gore and Bill Bradley.

Mr Gore said: "I think it is time to leave people alone because of the way God made them and stop the discrimination."


We're early on in a struggle about the value of a homosexual person

Episcopelian Bishop William Swing
Nelson Smith, who has been in a gay relationship for 29 years, expressed his anger at the measure.

"They'll accept my taxes to raise somebody else's kids, but they won't let me protect my partner," he told AP news agency.

Republican John McCain gave his backing to the move, while George W Bush was said last week to be "not taking a position" on the initiative.

Church split

California churches were split on the issue and used sermons, references to scripture and money to try to influence the outcome.

The Roman Catholic Church, with eight million members in California, was the biggest single donor to Yes-on-22. The Mormons and evangelical Christians also backed the proposal.

Yes-on-22 argued that homosexual couples should be allowed the freedom to sort out their private domestic arrangements but should not be allowed to "redefine marriage" for the rest of Californians.

The No-on-22 campaign had the support of Episcopalian, Lutheran and Methodist church leaders.

Episcopalian Bishop William Swing summarised the difficulty as he saw it, saying: "We're early on in a struggle about the value of a homosexual person."

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21 Dec 99 |  Americas
Gay rights victory in Vermont
01 Feb 99 |  Europe
Protest at 'gay marriage' plans
21 Jan 99 |  Americas
Canada tackles gay legal rights
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