Proposition 8 opponents concede defeat – gay marriage banned in California

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Live posting from San Francisco 00:24 PST

The opponents of Proposition 8, the voter initiative in California that effectively bans gay marriage have admitted defeat.

With 100% of votes made at polling stations counted, 5,424,916 (52.4%) voted in favour of a constitutional definition of marriage being between a man and woman. 4,832,086 (47.6%) voted against. Some postal and absentee votes have yet to be counted.

Gay Pride rainbow flags, here in San Francisco have been flown at half mast. On Wednesday and Thursday, rallies and vigils were held across the state. (To download a podcast recorded at the vigils click here)

The organisers of “No on Prop 8” campaign have issued the following statement: “We had hoped never to have to write this note.

“Sadly, fuelled by misinformation, distortions and lies, millions of voters went to the polls yesterday and said YES to bigotry, YES to discrimination, YES to second-class status for same-sex couples.

“And while the election was close, and millions of votes still remain uncounted, is has become apparent that we lost.

“There is no question this defeat is hard.

“Thousands of people have poured their talents, their time, their resources and their hearts into this struggle for freedom and this fight to have their relationships treated equally. Much has been sacrificed in this struggle.

“While we knew the odds for success were not with us, we believed Californians could be the first in the nation to defeat the injustice of discriminatory measures like Proposition 8.

“And while victory is not ours this day, we know that because of the work done here; freedom, fairness and equality will be ours someday. Just look at far we have come in a few decades.

“Up until 1974 same-sex intimacy was a crime in California. There wasn’t single law recognising the relationships of same-sex couples until 1984 — passed by the Berkeley School District. San Francisco did not pass domestic-partner protections until 1990, the state of California following in 2005. And in 2000, Proposition 22 passed with a 23% majority.

“Today, we fought to retain our right to marry and millions of Californians stood with us. Over the course of this campaign everyday Californians and their friends, neighbours and families built a civil rights campaign unequalled in California history.

“You raised more money than anyone believed possible for an LGBT civil rights campaign.

“You reached out to family and friends in record numbers—helping hundreds of thousands of Californians understand what the LGBT civil rights struggle is really about.

“You built the largest grassroots and volunteer network that has ever been built – a coalition that will continue to fight until all people are equal.

“And you made the case to the people of California and to the rest of the world that discrimination — in any form — is unfair and wrong.

“We are humbled by the courage, dignity and commitment displayed by all who fought this historic battle.

“Victory was not ours today. But the struggle for equality is not over.

“Because of the struggle fought here in California — fought so incredibly well by the people in this state who love freedom and justice — our fight for full civil rights will continue.

“Activist and writer Anne Lamott writes, ‘Hope begins in the dark, the stubborn hope that if you just show up and try to do the right thing, the dawn will come. You wait and watch and work: you don’t give up.’

“We stand together, knowing… our dawn will come.”

Some 16,000 gay couples married in California following a decision in May at the state’s Supreme Court that ruled that a ban on gay marriage was unconstitutional. Those already married have been told that the vote does not change the legal status of their relationship.

Benjamin Cohen is the Founder of and a Correspondent for Channel 4 News