Live from San Francisco
While the celebrations for the election of a new, pro-gay President, Barack Obama were starting the
fizzle out. California, home to one of the largest LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgndered) communities have lost the right to marry. Proposition 8, the voter initiative ballot that seeks to make a constitutional change to effectively ban gay marriage in California, defining marriage as an act of union between a man and woman was approved by voters. A glimmer of hope for the community is that absentee and postal votes have yet to be counted.
After $50m (£31.2m) of advertising and campaigning on both sides, 5,163,908 (52%) voters agreed with the proposition, 4,760,336 (48%) disagreed. 95.4% of votes have been counted.
There are between 3 and 4 million absentee and postal votes that have yet to be counted. The opposition campaign looks unlikely to concede until a statement on these is made by the Californian Secretary of State.
Rural areas have overwhelmingly voted for the ban. Urban areas including San Francisco have overwhelmingly voted against the ban. Los Angles had its vote split 50.6% in favour, 49.4% against.
Ron Prentice, Chairman of the Yes Campaign said: “This is a great day for marriage. 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. We trust that this decision will be respected by all Californians.”
The count went on for so long that the “No to Prop 8” party held in San Francisco had to be abandoned. Earlier in the evening, San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom said: “You decided to live your life out loud. You fell in love and you said, ‘I do.’ Tonight, we await a verdict.”
The ban comes despite vocal opposition from celebrities, politicians from all sides, including the state’s Governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger and all of the state’s major newspapers.
The ballot amendment that changed the California Constitution came about after a landmark decision by the state’s Supreme Court.
On May 15th the court ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 in 2000 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.
By June 2nd Proposition 8 had qualified for the election day ballot with 1.12 million signatures, hundreds of thousands more than the minimum required to trigger the statewide referendum.
It will add a new clause to the constitution: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California.”
On June 17th, same-sex marriages began. It is estimated that more than 18,000 couples have married since then.
Prop 8 was the biggest battle for gay equality in the US so far, but it is unlikely to be the last.
Benjamin Cohen is live blogging from San Francisco. He is the founder of PinkNews.co.uk and a Correspondent for Channel 4 News