Gay marriage bans gain ground

SAN FRANCISCO -- At 1:42 p.m., Jay Dabbs, 59, and Robert Makowka, 54, were pronounced spouses for life, almost six months after the California Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage was legal — and just hours before they would learn if marriages like theirs would be outlawed.

"What should be a very solemn event is being squeezed between lunch and dinner," Makowka said.

Voters in California, Florida and Arizona appeared to be favoring constitutional amendments banning gay marriage, although the races were close. All three amendments were leading just an hour after the last poll closed in California.

In Florida, the constitutional amendment needed 60% approval to pass. With 86.3% of precincts reporting, the amendment was winning 62.1% to 37.9%.

In Arizona with 73.7% of precincts reporting, it was leading 56.2% to 43.8%. In California, where both sides raised about $73 million in a markedly divisive campaign, the constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage was leading 54.4% to 45.6% with 8.3% of precincts reporting.

On May 15, the California Supreme Court ruled gay marriage legal, calling the ban discriminatory and unconstitutional. Same-sex couples were legally allowed to wed June 16. Some 18,000 gay and lesbian couples did by Tuesday, according to the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, Los Angeles.

The "Yes on (Proposition) 8" campaign — calling to recognize only heterosexual marriage — had raised $35 million and sent out some 100,000 volunteers to fan the state, said Chip White, co-campaign manager. "Momentum continues to be on our side as California recognizes the serious consequences if gay marriage remains legal," White said.

The "No on 8" side had raised some $38 million and had about 10,000 volunteers, Smith said.

Dueling rallies often involved shouting and arrests. Election night was no different in Alameda, across from San Francisco.

Tim Tarasov, 25, stood on the corner of Otis Drive and Park Street hoisting a sign approving the ban in the moments before the polls closed. Across the street stood those approving same-sex marriage. "I have two kids and a beautiful wife at home, and I believe in a marriage that's going to create happiness for the family," said Tarasov, of Sacramento. "Only one man and one woman can make that happen, because the Bible said so."

Naama Firestone, 46, a homemaker from Berkeley, said she came out to protest the ban because she married her female partner of 16 years some two weeks ago, "and I want to make sure that kids everywhere in the United States will be able to get married just like I did."

Campaign donations came in from across the USA, with evangelical Christians and Mormons donating for the constitutional amendment and gay-rights activists and such Hollywood heavies as Ellen DeGeneres and Brad Pitt donating to oppose it.