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Calif. Approves Gay Marriage Ban

March 8, 2000 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ California, the land of change, has struck a blow for tradition, saying no to gay marriage.

After a campaign led and financed by religious conservatives, voters on Tuesday approved Proposition 22, which prohibits California from granting marital rights to same-sex couples who are legally married in any other state.

No state allows same-sex marriages. But since the Hawaii Supreme Court raised the possibility of legalizing gay marriage in 1993, 31 states have passed pre-emptive laws denying recognition to same-sex couples legally married anywhere else. California is the third to adopt the law at the ballot box.

With 80 percent of precincts reporting, the measure had the support of 3,334,172 voters, or 61 percent, and was opposed by 2,106,385 voters, or 39 percent.

Californians ``like what has been going on for thousands of years,″ said GOP state Sen. Pete Knight, who qualified the initiative for the ballot after the Legislature rejected it. ``California is not ready for marriage between a man and a man.″

Knight’s gay son, David, campaigned against the measure.

Exit polls conducted by Voter News Service for The Associated Press and TV networks found that the measure was supported about equally by men and women and by all races and income groups. It was opposed by young voters and by about two-thirds of Democrats, but Republicans backed it 6-1.

No-on-22 Campaign manager Mike Marshall noted that Proposition 22 supporters stressed the simplicity of their 14-word text: ``Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid and recognized in California.″

Gay-rights advocates have their own 14-word formula: ``California’s gay and lesbian families deserve the same legal protections as all married couples″ _ and will push to enact it through legislation, executive order or another ballot measure, Marshall said.

The mood was not as upbeat at Harvey’s, a restaurant in San Francisco’s heavily gay Castro district. It is named for the city’s first openly gay supervisor, Harvey Milk, who was assassinated in 1978.

``What it’s ensuring is that gay people will remain second-class citizens,″ said patron Gary Murphy, 39.

Supporters and opponents of the measure spent more than $13 million combined. Much of the money and most of the volunteers on the pro-22 side came from churches. Opponents included leaders of mainline Protestant churches and liberal denominations.

The pro-22 campaign disavowed any anti-gay motives, and said its goal was to let Californians define marriage for themselves.

In Vermont, the issue was on the table on town meetings around the state Tuesday. The decisions were meant to guide state lawmakers trying to craft legislation following a state Supreme Court ruling that gays are unconstitutionally being denied the benefits of marriage. One pending bill would grant all such benefits the state can offer without actually allowing gay marriages.

In all communities around the state that reported results, residents voted against allowing gay marriages, although it was close in a few. Several communities supported domestic partnerships, however.