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Obama rejects proposed California gay marriage ban

By Aurelio Rojas - arojas@sacbee.com

Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Story appeared in MAIN NEWS section, Page A3

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Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who previously said the issue of gay marriage should be left up to each state, has announced his opposition to a California ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriages.

In a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club read Sunday at the group's annual Pride Breakfast in San Francisco, the Illinois senator said he supports extending "fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law."

"And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states," Obama wrote.

Obama had previously said he opposes same-sex marriage but that each state should make its own decision.

A spokesman for Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who last week endorsed Proposition 8 on the Nov. 4 California ballot, accused Obama of continuing a pattern of changing his position on issues.

"It just depends on where you catch him and what time of day … whether it's public financing, town hall debates and now gay marriage," said Rick Gorka, a spokesman for the Arizona senator.

Ben LaBolt, an Obama campaign spokesman, declined to comment on the McCain campaign's allegations. But LaBolt noted that the Illinois senator opposed a proposed federal ban on gay marriage. Campaigning in Pennsylvania in April, Obama said he would oppose a similar constitutional ban under consideration by the Legislature there.

"Senator Obama opposes all divisive and discriminatory constitutional amendments such as the one in California," LaBolt said.

McCain endorsed a 2006 Arizona initiative defining marriage as only between a man and a woman, which was defeated. But he voted against a federal constitutional amendment against gay marriage.

Randy Thomasson of the Campaign for Children and Families – which backs the California ballot measure – called Obama a hypocrite.

"He says he believes marriage is for a man and woman, yet he's promising he would undo federal marriage protection and oppose California marriage," Thomasson said.

Thomasson predicted Obama "will lose votes in California due to his pandering to San Francisco extremists."

About the writer:

  • Call Aurelio Rojas, Bee Capitol Bureau, (916) 326-5545.
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BARACK OBAMA The Democrat said in a letter he supports extending "fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law."

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