US gay campaigners hold Valentine’s marriage rallies

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Gay rights campaigners across the US held a series of Valentine’s Day rallies and demonstrations yesterday to call for marriage equality.

Gay couples in cities such as Houston, Los Angeles and Chicago requested marriage licences, while others staged civil disobedience actions.

In San Francisco, nine gay couples held a brief sit-down occupation of the city hall.

Six people were arrested in Chicago after refusing to leave a registry office but in Yolo County, California, a sympathetic clerk handed out IOUs because he could not grant marriage licences.

Some demonstrations saw protesters arrive in full wedding dress.

The protests were organised by Marriage Equality USA and the GetEqual campaign.

Molly McKay, the media director of Marriage Equality, said: “Since 2001, Marriage Equality USA chapters have engaged in annual marriage counter actions to render visible the discrimination that is enforced every day and to highlight the need to overturn discriminatory laws.

“It is an affront to our basic dignity as fellow human beings when same-sex couples are turned away from the marriage counter, but it gives us the opportunity to tell our stories and show that we live in every community and want to honour and protect our families like everyone else.”

Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont and Washington DC have marriage equality. California did briefly before opponents got the law struck down.

Maryland is tipped to be the next state to allow gay couples to marry, while a civil unions bill is expected to pass in Hawaii.

While a small number of states have civil unions – but not gay marriage – at least 30 states have constitutional bans on the practice.

The British government is expected to announce plans to change marriage and civil partnership laws this week.