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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Same sex marriages in jeopardy

The agony and anxiety that these couples must be facing due to the inconsistency of the law, must be truly excrutiating.

Liberal California shuts door on same sex marriages

Shalaka Paradkar in Los Angeles
A proposed ban on same-sex marriage in
California -- widely seen as the most momentous of the 153 ballot
measures at stake across the United States on November 4 -- has been
passed, with 52 per cent of the voters saying 'yes' and 48 per cent
saying 'no'.
For the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community which fought
long and hard for the right to get married, the vote has come as a
heartbreaking defeat.

Rashmi Choksey, president of Satrang, the South Asian queer
organisation based in Southern California, says, "It's been a
bitter-sweet election. On one hand, a liberal Democrat was elected
with overwhelming support and on the other, California, which is known
for its liberal views and ideals, has let its queer people down.
Satrang members who got married and those who hope to get married in
the future are quite sad at this turn of events."

Sapana Doshi, 34, who got married just two weeks ago to her partner
Tracy Osborne, 38, is on her way to her honeymoon in the Caribbean. .

Speaking to, she said, "It doesn't mean that our effort
against Prop 8 (the initiative to ban same sex marriages) was a
complete failure. We spread so much awareness. It has forever changed
the way people think about same sex couples. For example, our family
has been transformed. And so many families in California agree that we
are denied our fundamental right. The verdict is a sad setback but not
a defeat."

Sapana, who got married in an Indian ceremony attended by 150 people
at the Sonoma County park in California, said, "We are each other's
soul-mates. For a long time we wanted to get married but were denied
our fundamental right. We were in fact planning to go to Canada
[Images] to get married. But when the state supreme court approved
same sex marriages, it gave us hope. It made a big difference in our
lives. So we moved fast to ensure we can get married soon."

However, Like Sapana, some 18,000 same sex couples who tied the knot
during a four-month window of opportunity opened by the court ruling
now face uncertainty about their legal status as a married couple.

Rashmi Choksey explains, "The fact that Prop 8 was passed with such a
small margin shows that we've made some strides into illuminating the
homophobia and discrimination we face. However, there's much more work
to be done, especially addressing the scare tactics and misinformation
that the religious right has used to its advantage. Basically, those
who got married will be in some sort of limbo, no one knows how it
will play out. I have a feeling there will be several lawsuits filed
for one thing or another, the biggest already being filed by the
American Civil Liberties Union."

The ACLU and other opponents of the ban have filed a challenge with
the state supreme court arguing that California's ballot cannot be
used to undermine one group's access to rights enjoyed by other

The amendment, which passed with 52 percent of the vote, overrides the
original court ruling by defining marriage as the union of one man and
one woman. Thirty states have now adopted such measures, but the
California vote marks the first time a state took away the right after
it had been legalised.

In a landmark judgment on May 16, the California supreme court had
struck down the state's ban on same sex marriage.

Rakesh Modi, chariman of Trikone, a support group for LGBT people of
South Asian descent, said he has not lost hope. "I am very
disappointed with the unfavourable verdict on Prop 8, but I am not
disheartened. This just means that there is more work to be done, even
in the seemingly liberal state of California, to educate people. I
still have faith that Californians are broad-minded enough to accept
same sex marriage. We lost Prop 8 because of the scary tactics of our
opposition in spreading lies."

According to the 2000 census, total number of same sex couples in
California is 92,138. According to analysis of data from the 2000 US
census, there are over 13,000 Asian and Pacific Islanders in same
couples in California, more than in any other state.

According to Satrang's comprehensive survey in 2005 in collaboration
with the largest SA community based partner organisation, the South
Asian Network, over 3,869 of them are South Asians. The California
Center for Population Research says there were four per cent Asian
Indian same sex couples and 0.2 per cent Pakistani same sex couples in

The number of South Asians has grown in the eight years since the
census. Moreover, the data doesn't include those who were counted
under 'unmarried partner household' category or single gays, lesbians,
bi and trans South Asians.

Gay marriage bans were also passed on Tuesday in Arizona and Florida
[Images], with 57 percent and 62 percent support, respectively, while
Arkansas voters approved a measure aimed at gays that bars unmarried
couples from serving as adoptive or foster parents.

Massachusetts and Connecticut are now the only American states to
allow same sex marriage.

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