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US: De Rossi's nuptials in doubt after vote to ban same-sex marri

06 Nov 2008 4:06 PM
By Peter Mitchell

LOS ANGELES, Nov 5 AAP - Australian actress Portia de Rossi's marriage to Ellen DeGeneres and the nuptials of 18,000 other gay couples in California were in limbo today after a slim majority of the state's residents voted to ban same-sex marriage.

DeGeneres opened up her chequebook to buyUS100,000 (about $A150,000) worth of TV commercial air time to plead to Californians to not override May's landmark Supreme Court ruling allowing gay marriage, but was left devastated by the news her effort was fruitless and her marriage of two months couldsoon be scrubbed.

Gay weddings were halted across the state soon after it was confirmed 52.5 per cent of voters, just over 5.38 million, supported the gay marriage ban.

This was compared to the 47.5 per cent, or 4.87 million, calling for the gay marriage laws to remain.

"This city is no longer marrying people of the same sex," mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, said at a news conference.

Californians were asked to vote on the issue, known as Proposition 8, when they went to the polls yesterday to choose the next president of the US.

The result was so close a winner was not called until today.

DeGeneres and Geelong-born de Rossi married in August at their Hollywood Hills home.

DeGeneres used her TV talk show to drum up support to oppose the ban, but today on her website posted an emotional message pondering how the US "had taken a giant step towards equality" with the election of Obama as the firstAfrican-American president, but a step back with Proposition 8.

"Watching the returns on election night was an amazing experience," DeGeneres wrote.

"Barack Obama is our new president.

"Change is here.

"I, like millions of Americans, felt like we had taken a giant step towardsequality.

"We were watching history.

"This morning, when it was clear that Proposition 8 had passed in California, I can't explain the feeling I had.

"I was saddened beyond belief.

"Here we just had a giant step toward equality and then on the very next day, we took a giant step away.

"I believe one day a 'ban on gay marriage' will sound totally ridiculous.

"In the meantime, I will continue to speak out for equality for all of us."

Proposition 8 will not immediately veto the 18,000 gay marriages, but parties on both sides agreed the vote was the first shot in a battle that would be decided in the courts.

Supporters of the ban were expected to use the courts to overturn the nuptials.

The American Civil Liberties Union and other gay rights supporters filed three lawsuits today with the California Supreme Court asking for Proposition8 to be overturned.

The battle for Proposition 8 was ferocious with a combinedUS72 million ($A105 million) spent on campaigns and both sides using inflammatory TV ads in the lead-up to the vote.

Religious groups, including The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saintsand the Catholic Church, called for the ban and ads supporting their view warned Californians children would be taught about gay marriage in school if same-sex couples were allowed to marry in the state.

Gay marriage supporters aired an ad in the final days of the campaign depicting two Mormon men forcing their way into a lesbian couple's home, siftingthrough their underwear drawer looking for their wedding certificate. Whenit was discovered they ripped it up.

Same-sex marriage bans were also passed in Arizona and Florida yesterday, with 57 per cent and 62 per cent support, respectively.

Voters in Arkansas also approved a measure aimed at gays that bars unmarried couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are the only US states allowing same-sex marriage.

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