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Protests irk supporters of Prop. 8

Backers in O.C., where the measure was heavily favored, say the people's will should be upheld.

November 11, 2008|Joe Mozingo | Mozingo is a Times staff writer

From his living room in Leisure World in Seal Beach, Larry Black has watched the anti-Proposition 8 protests on his TV. He's read about the legal challenges to overturn the measure. And he has a thought.

"It's ridiculous," said Black, 66. "It's the people's vote. . . . That's the way it should be. That's it."

Voters in Orange County passed the measure banning gay marriage last week by a margin of 14 percentage points, a larger victory than statewide.

On Main Street in Seal Beach on Monday, a sampling of supporters vented their frustration over the contentious issue dragging on after a clear win at the polls.

They related arguments made before the election -- gay marriage would lead to laws permitting polygamy or bestiality, and that it goes against the "natural order."

And they grumbled that the people's will, as expressed in the voting booth, has been thwarted by California courts before.

Black and two of his friends had ridden their bikes from the Leisure World retirement community to Main Street to get some exercise and breathe in the ocean air by the pier.

Black says he believes homosexuals are born gay, have no choice in the matter and should be able to live how they want.

But the three friends said marriage is inherently between a man and a woman, and that widening the definition would put society on a path toward a murky kind of relativism, where traditional standards of morality disappear in a live-and-let-live atmosphere.

"You have to draw the line in the sand somewhere," said Mike Mooney, 60.

Mooney fears the measure will be killed in the courts like Proposition 187, the controversial 1994 measure that barred illegal immigrants from receiving social services.

Richard "Mac" McConnell agrees.

"It makes me angry when the will of the people is not upheld," said McConnell, 82.

"Under the Constitution it's supposed to be, but it's not anymore," he said. "And that's wrong."

McConnell is one of the regulars who gather on the benches on Main Street and take in the sea breeze where the magnolias and vintage storefronts meet the plank pier.

He is not a die-hard conservative, nor a bigot, he says.

He usually votes Republican but this time he voted for Obama.

In some ways, he said, he marvels at how far gays have made their way toward mainstream acceptance.

For the first half-century of his life, he said, gays were hidden in the margins and no one he knew ever talked about gays' rights. Gays and lesbians seeking marriage was unimaginable.

"I think they should be able to do what they want to do," he said. "But the law of this land is that marriage is between a man and a woman."

Nowhere is monolithic, of course. Nearly 43% of voters in Orange County voted "no" on Proposition 8. And plenty of people approached Monday in Seal Beach were against the measure or somewhere in the middle.

Laury Creyaufmiller, 40, played with her 4-year-old son on the beach's giant sand berm. She said she was happy to see the protesters on television.

"That's why this country is so great," she said. "To be honest, I don't really understand the issue. If you're a man and don't believe in gay marriage, you shouldn't marry a man."

Creyaufmiller said the margin of victory by 4.6 percentage points statewide did not send a clear message that Californians were against gay marriage.

"The people basically said some of us think this is OK, and some of us don't," she said.

Some supporters of the ban said they were trying to be as tolerant as they could, and took umbrage with the allegation, made repeatedly at protests, that they were homophobes.

Yvonne Lee, 64, playing with her grandchildren at the beach playground, said she has family members who are gay whom she would never want to hurt.

But as an evangelical Christian, she said she knows the "correct forces of nature." She noted that this is the second time Californians have voted to ban gay marriage, referring to Proposition 22 in 2000, which was overturned in May by the state Supreme Court.

"They lost," she said. "Accept it."

She too feared the ever-invoked slippery slope.

"What are people going to be asking for next?" she asked.

Bob Murphy, a Huntington Beach bike shop owner, does not see a valid comparison between gay-marriage proponents and civil rights protesters of the past and present.

"It is a moral issue," said Murphy, 64. "It isn't a civil rights issue. You can't just do anything you want."

He said gay marriage defies a basic instinct people have about the natural order of human relations.

And as a pastor, he said he fears the government would begin to put limits on what he could preach if gay marriage becomes legal.

But he and a friend who met for lunch shrugged about the court challenges, as if the measure's overturning were inevitable.

"What am I going to do?" asked his friend, who did not want to give his name. "Move to Canada," which actually allows same-sex marriage.

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joe.mozingo@latimes.com

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(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

Proposition 8 on the web

More coverage on Proposition 8 is available at latimes.com.

L.A. NOW

latimes.com/now

An exit poll shows how different groups in L.A. voted on Prop. 8.

Are African Americans being criticized unfairly for Prop. 8's passage?

Where are activists planning their next demonstration?

Share your opinions about the election and the street protests.

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INTERACTIVE MAPS

latimes.com/prop8maps

County-by-county comparisons of Prop. 4 and Prop. 8 voting.

County-by-county comparisons of Prop. 8 and 2000's Prop. 22.

Database of Prop. 8 contributors.

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