The honeymoon's over for gay newlyweds as Mormons lead revolt

California to vote on amendment that would outlaw same-sex unions

When Erin Carder married her lesbian partner Kerri McCoy last week, a group of parents at the school where she teaches in San Francisco decided that their children should be allowed to share the big day.

As the newlywed couple walked down the steps of City Hall, 18 of Ms Carder's five and six-year-old pupils surprised them, throwing rose petals and blowing bubbles. To its organisers, the field trip represented what the headmistress Liz Jaroslow described as a "teachable moment" – an opportunity to educate the children about love, marriage, and the historic significance of same-sex weddings. Yet within hours, the school outing had been thrust to the centre of a delicately poised and increasingly bitter political battle over the future of gay marriage in California.

The state's supreme court overturned a ban on gay marriage in May, and since June couples of the same sex have been happily tying the knot. But on 4 November, as well as choosing a president, Californians are being asked to vote on an amendment to the state constitution – known as Proposition 8 – that would once more outlaw gay marriage.

Financed mostly by right-wing Christian groups, including the wealthy Mormon Church, supporters of Proposition 8 have made robust efforts to secure majority backing for a 15-word amendment which states: "Only a marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California." Their tactics so far have attempted to play to the fears of middle-class families who are thought most likely to turn out to vote on 4 November.

And that's how Erin and Kerri's wedding, co-starring the children from the Creative Arts Charter School, has ended up as a prime-time commercial. The attack ad – the latest headline-grabbing initiative by the Protect Marriage lobby group – claims that liberals are using gay marriage to indoctrinate vulnerable children in public schools.

"Mom, guess what I learned in school today?" asks one young actress in the commercial. "I learned how a prince married a prince, and how I can grow up to marry a princess!"

Chip White, a spokesman for Protect Marriage, said: "It's totally unreasonable that a first-grade field trip would be to a same-sex wedding.

"This is overt indoctrination of children who are too young to understand it."

Despite California's traditionally liberal leanings, the Protect Marriage campaign appears to be gaining ground. Recent polls, which had for months been tilted in favour of gay marriages, are now showing that 47 per cent of respondents are backing the amendment outlawing such unions, with 42 per cent opposed and the rest undecided.

The situation leaves 11,000 couples who have rushed to marry in California worried that their marriages might suddenly be declared null and void.

No On Eight, the group leading the battle against Proposition 8, admitted it had been caught off-guard by the size of the anti-gay-marriage advertising campaign, funded by $30m (£17m) of donations. In a belated effort to get the pro-gay-marriage campaign off the ground, No On Eight recently began recruiting Hollywood celebrities, securing $100,000 donations from Brad Pitt, and Steven Spielberg. This week, the film producer Steve Bing made a personal donation of $500,000.

On Tuesday, the business magnate Ron Burkle will host a major fundraiser at his home in Beverly Hills, at which Melissa Etheridge and Mary J Blige will perform. Guests include Barbra Streisand, and the chat-show host Ellen DeGeneres, who wed Portia de Rossi in August in one of the most high-profile same-sex unions.

The big question, of course, is whether this effort will turn out to be too little, too late. If it is, the state's large gay community faces an uncertain future.

"It will be uncharted territory," said Evan Wolfson of the organisation Freedom to Marry. "What we know from other examples of anti-gay attacks is that our opponents talk very soothingly before the process about how limited their individual measure is, and then once the legislation passes, they use it as a sweeping tool to discriminate and undermine all aspects of partnership protection."

On both sides, the campaign has so far been characterised by accusations of "dirty tricks". No On Eight has accused its opponents of attempting to stir up racial tension, while Protect Marriage's website carries allegations that its supporters have been threatened, and its campaign billboards vandalised.

"This was always going to be a close vote, and the anti-gay forces have poured in an unmentionable amount of money," said Mr Wolfson. "Their campaign has been far bigger than we ever planned for, and nobody anticipated the barrage of advertising. But I hope fairness will prevail."

Civil union The state milestones

*Vermont was the first state in the US to pass a civil union law back in 2000, offering a homosexual couple all the rights a heterosexual married couple would enjoy, without actually legalising same-sex marriages.

*It was not until November 2003 that a state gave legal approval to gay marriages. A court in Massachusetts ruled that banning homosexuals from civil marriage was against the constitution, propelling the issue into the national spotlight.

*Massachusetts issued its first licences in May 2004. Four years later, in July this year, the Governor signed a bill allowing gay couples from elsewhere in America to be married in the state.


*California became the second state in the US to allow gay marriage. The third was Connecticut – just last week, when a court ruled that civil unions were not an alternative, and that limiting gay couples to unions only was a violation of their rights. That part of theruling will be of particular interest to gay campaigners in New Hampshire and New Jersey – as well as Vermont – which currently allowcivil unions but not gaymarriage.

Sport
premier leagueLive: All the latest news and scores from today's matches
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
News
politics
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker