Australian gay rights groups have expressed commiserations to Californian same-sex couples who have lost the right to marry after Proposition 8 passed in last week’s US election.

Over 16,000 couples took advantage of their legal right to marry in California after the Supreme Court ruled in favour of same-sex marriage in June this year. The ballot measure overturning same-sex marriage gained 52 percent support from Californian voters.

Thousands rallied in the streets of Los Angeles after hearing the result, marching near a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints temple to protest the Mormons’ strong support for the proposition. Seven people were arrested.

Exit polls showed young voters overwhelmingly opposed the ban while older voters, churchgoers and African Americans tended to be strongly in favour.

According to the LA Times, $US74 million was spent by both sides combined during the race.
US National Centre for Lesbian Rights executive director Kate Kendall told The New York Times the community would pick ourselves up and trudge on. Legal challenges in California have already been filed against the ban.

Australian Marriage Equality spokesman Peter Furness said he was disappointed to hear the ban got through, but was looking on the bright side.

For a very socially conservative society like the USA, I think that’s not so bad at all. Of course it’s disappointing it wasn’t 52 our side, but America is a tough nut to crack.

I don’t think it has much effect in Australia because in Australia a significant majority of people support equal marriage and we don’t have as much influence by evangelical Christian churches.

I’m very confident that Australians wouldn’t vote that way. I think there’s much more support in Australia for legal equality.

Furness said he wasn’t concerned the Californian example may be used by those opposing equal marriage in Australia.

I think the only lesson perhaps is that we need to be more organised and effective and we need to put some resources into a campaign for equal rights, including marriage rights.

Furness, who has been monitoring the campaign said he believes scare tactics were used by those for the ban claiming schools would be forced into teaching about gay marriage.

This is America after all and there were millions of dollars put in … they [those supporting the ban] basically launched an intensive and dishonest campaign -” one I don’t think you could ever get away with here in Australia where you have to have at least some element of truth in advertising.

Only two states, Massachusetts and Connecticut allow gay marriage in the United States -“ Arizona and Florida also voted to keep marriage between a man and a woman last week.

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