Same-sex marriage ban stirs LA gay district protest

Sat Nov 8, 2008 11:12pm EST
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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Several thousand people gathered in Los Angeles on Saturday evening to protest a voter-approved ballot measure that bans same-sex marriage in California.

A diverse crowd, estimated at 5,000, stretched for blocks in the Silver Lake district, east of Hollywood, carrying signs and chanting against Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment that bars the state from recognizing same-sex marriages.

"Equal rights," the protesters chanted, "When do we want it? Now!"

The measure overturned a California Supreme Court ruling in May that refusing homosexuals the right to marry violated the state constitution. Voters in Florida and Arizona joined California on Tuesday in banning same-sex marriages.

Dozens of states have similar laws. Only two U.S. states, Massachusetts and Connecticut, allow same-sex marriage.

Many of the protesters' signs mocked the Mormon church, which spent millions promoting the measure, helping make it one of the most expensive ballot campaigns in U.S. history.

Others expressed despair the gay community had not benefited from U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's lopsided election victory.

"Yes we can (unless you're gay)," read one sign.

The march began at Sunset Junction, once a strip of bars where the U.S. gay community first made a stand against police harassment in the late 1960s.   Continued...

<p>Robert Oliver (L) holds a rainbow colored flag as a woman who identified herself as Mama Joi (R) talks to a crowd outside the Los Angeles California Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during a "No on Prop 8" march and rally on Santa Monica Blvd. in Los Angeles, November 6, 2008. The protesters were marching to the Mormon Church which supported Proposition 8, the ballot measure that banned gay marriage, local media reported. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok</p>