|USA||CHURCH INSTRUMENTAL IN CALIFORNIAN REJECTION OF GAY MARRIAGE|
Following intensive campaigning by churches, Californian voters have backed a pre-emptive move to ban official recognition of gay marriages.
Proposition 22 - which calls for a ban on recognising such marriages - was passed by 61%-39%. Sponsored by Republican state senator Pete Knight, it was the most controversial of 20 propositions on the Super Tuesday presidential primary ballot.
Supporters of Proposition 22 said it would protect Californians from the consequences of legal moves in states like Vermont, where legislation for same-sex marriage is forging ahead.
The Catholic Church, with eight million members in California, was the biggest single donor to Yes-on-22. The Mormons and evangelical Christians also backed the proposal.
Yes-on-22 argued that homosexual couples should be allowed the freedom to sort out their private domestic arrangements but should not be allowed to "redefine marriage" for the rest of Californians.