Comedian Wanda Sykes has spoken publicly of her pride at being a black lesbian.

The Emmy Award-winning star was speaking in Las Vegas, at one of hundreds of rallies across the US and in Canada protesting Proposition 8, a ballot measure denying Californian gay and lesbian couples the right to marry.

It was approved by voters in the state on November 4th.

“You know, I don’t really talk about my sexual orientation,” Ms Sykes said on Saturday night.

“I didn’t feel like I had to. I was just living my life, not necessarily in the closet, but I was living my life.

“Everybody that knows me personally they know I’m gay. But that’s the way people should be able to live their lives.

“Now, I gotta get in their face. I’m proud to be a woman. I’m proud to be a black woman, and I’m proud to be gay.”

Ms Sykes starred as herself in the acclaimed comedy show Curb Your Enthusiasm and as Barb in the series The New Adventures of Old Christine, opposite Julia Louis-Dreyfus.

She won an Emmy in 1999 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety or Music Programme for The Chris Rock Show.

She married her partner last month in California.

There were major protests on Saturday in Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington DC, Salt Lake City, San Francisco and hundreds of smaller cities and towns.

Some targeted Mormon churches – the Mormons contributed large sums of money to the campaign to ban gay marriage.

The Church issued a statement on Friday after numerous recent demonstrations and some cases of vandalism at Mormon temples and other properties.

“Attacks on churches and intimidation of people of faith have no place in civil discourse over controversial issues,” the statement said.

“People of faith have a democratic right to express their views in the public square without fear of reprisal.

“We call upon those who have honest disagreements on this issue to urge restraint upon the extreme actions of a few that are further polarising our communities.”

In May the California Supreme Court ruled that a previous ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional, and between June and November an estimated 18,000 same-sex couples exchanged vows.

There are challenges to Prop 8, which was supported by 52% of voters, in the Supreme Court.