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Groups react to Missouri voter approval of constitutional amendment banning gay marriage

Groups react to Missouri voter approval of constitutional amendment banning gay marriage

National groups involved in the gay marriage battle pondered lessons learned in Missouri, where voters overwhelmingly endorsed a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. It was the first state to place the restriction in its constitution since Massachusetts's high court ruled last year that gay couples have the legal right to marry in that state. At least nine other states will consider a similar amendment this year, one as early as September. Another three states have initiatives pending. Four already have constitutional provisions banning gay marriage or giving their legislatures the right to do so. Ron Schlittler, executive director of the Washington D.C.-based Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, said Wednesday that the Missouri campaign was tough because the election was so early. "What's going on is, there's a real rush to judgment," he said. His organization has more time to organize get-out-the-vote efforts and communicate with people through rallies and debates about the issue before it's on ballots in other states, he said. Despite the failure in Missouri, Schlittler also said grassroots campaigning remains the way to go with this issue, to personally tell voters why it's important. "[Amendment backers have] got people's fears and prejudices and uncertainties on their side. That's a lot to overcome," he said. Amendment supporters said the Missouri result makes campaigns in other states and Congress aware of the issue's importance. Bill Maier, a psychologist with Focus on the Family, a Colorado Springs, Colo.-based Christian group, said the vote bodes well for initiatives elsewhere. He also said spreading the word through churches and community events, as was done in Missouri, works well and that flashy ad campaigns aren't needed.

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