Abortion bans lose, gay marriage bans win

Wed Nov 5, 2008 10:04am EST
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By Peter Henderson

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Two U.S. states rejected proposals to limit abortion rights while others said no to gay marriage, in a mixed message over contentious social issues as Americans elected their first black president.

Results of votes on more than 150 proposed state measures across the country showed a more complex cultural map than Tuesday's historic election of Democrat Barack Obama might indicate.

In California, same-sex couples were poised to lose the right to marry, while Florida and Arizona voted to ban gay marriage outright, joining dozens of other states that define marriage as only between a man and a woman.

Attempts to restrict abortion in South Dakota and Colorado met strong voter resistance.

Halting abortion and same-sex marriage are key issues for many conservative Christian voters, an important base for the Republican Party.

With 93.6 percent of precincts reporting, the California proposition to stop same-sex marriage -- which came about half a year after the state court opened the way to gay marriage -- was ahead by 4.2 percentage points.

"We have Obama," Noelle Skool, 29, said of her hopes for change as she checked identification at a popular lesbian bar in San Francisco's Mission district. "It's small steps. Eventually they'll warm up to the fact that, hey, we're all equal."

Mathew Staver, founder of the conservative Liberty Counsel, had success as a proponent of the Florida gay marriage ban but saw the state vote for Obama the Democrat.   Continued...