sábado, 8 de noviembre de 2008

Gays see rights growing despite election losses

Gays see rights growing despite election losses

California revoked same-sex marriage this week and more states joined the strong majority that define marriage as between a man and a woman -- yet gay rights activists see a bright future for their cause.

While a conservative-backed ballot measure banning same-sex marriage passed in America's most populous state on Tuesday, it is a measure of the gay movement's success that it is now fighting for civil rights instead of mere acceptance of a sexual orientation that was seen as deviant and criminalized just a few decades ago.

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said he was "tremendously optimistic" about the future of same-sex marriage in California despite the election loss. Gay couples wed for nearly half a year in California after winning a state Supreme Court battle in May.

A San Francisco candlelight vigil on Wednesday night that turned into a cheering session on the steps of City Hall, and Los Angeles area clashes with police in riot gear were two post-election signs that the gay community does not expect to fade quietly away.

"How can you just decide 'OK we can't have rights, I guess we'll just have to be cool with that'? It's my country, too, goddamnit," said Becki Holub at the San Francisco rally.

Signs of newfound respect from gay marriage opponents were clear in the California campaign, in which the two sides raised at least $70 million, because it did not hinge on the morality of homosexuality.

"I think we won because we stuck to our guns of being pro-marriage and not anti-gay," said Jeff Flint, one of the managers for the campaign that passed the California ban.

Gay marriage ban supporters avoided criticizing homosexuals explicitly, even when they said they did not want schools to "teach" gay marriage.

"The broad consensus in California and the nation is -- protect marriage but create sort of civil union or domestic partnership laws to recognize those relationships," Flint said.

Many U.S. states have made clear they don't want same-sex marriage -- more than half have laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman, including additions by California, Arizona and Florida on Tuesday, when Arkansas also stopped gay couples from adopting children.

But younger people were much more supportive of gay marriage than older ones, polls showed.

And in a sign of growing support for gay marriage, the thin margin of victory for the California measure -- a few percentage points -- was many times less than when California voted against gay marriage eight years earlier.


In 2004 similar initiatives in key states were credited with helping President George W. Bush win re-election, drawing evangelical voters, a key Republican base, to the polls.

This year, Democratic President-elect Barack Obama still won California and Florida, where gay marriage was banned

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