Nov 8, 2008

World - US;Hollywood joins the furor over gay marriage ban

Derrik J Lang

Thousands of protesters are angry about California's ban on gay marriage — and so are the stars.

Many celebrities grieved the passing of Proposition 8 in California this week. Some — such as Wanda Sykes, Rose McGowen and Lance Bass — attended a Wednesday protest criticizing the state's gay marriage ban. Others — like Ellen DeGeneres, Rosie O'Donnell, Samantha Ronson and Melissa Etheridge — vented their frustrations online, on TV, and onstage.

Blocks away from the Thursday rally of more than 2,000 gay-rights advocates outside the gates of a Mormon temple, several stars — including James Cromwell, Patricia Clarkson, Anjelica Huston and Sean Penn — said they supported the protesters while walking the red carpet at the BAFTA L.A. Brittania Awards at Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.

"I think it might be an idea to go out and join them shortly," Penn said. "It was a shameful decision that was made."

Etheridge, who exchanged vows with her longtime partner in a 2003 ceremony, declared she wouldn't pay her taxes in a blog entry posted Thursday on The gay Oscar- and Grammy-winning singer-songwriter said without the right to marry in California, she didn't think she should have to pay taxes because "I am not a full citizen."

"I don't mean to get too personal here," Etheridge wrote. "But there is a lot I can do with the extra half a million dollars that I will be keeping instead of handing it over to the state of California. Oh, and I am sure Ellen will be a little excited to keep her bazillion bucks that she pays in taxes, too."
DeGeneres posted a brief message of support for President-elect Barack Obama and the gay-rights advocates protesting against Proposition 8 on her show's Web site Friday. The talk show host, who married actress Portia de Rossi in August, previously donated $100,000 against the ballot initiative and starred in a commercial lamenting the measure.

"So there was a demonstration here on Wednesday night," DeGeneres wrote, "and just before I walked out here, I was watching the news and there is a huge, huge, peaceful demonstration going on in the streets, and I say, good for you, and I support you, and if I weren't here, I'd be out there with you."

O'Donnell, who lives in New York, responded to comments and questions about her stance on the issue on her Web site. When one person said he understood why she didn't come out against the proposition, O'Donnell responded: "I AM AGAINST PROP 8. DUH." She also wrote she believes the estimated 18,000 gay marriages would be annulled "like mine was years ago."

The former talk show host, who lives in New York with partner Kelli Carpenter and their four children, publicly wed Carpenter in San Francisco in 2004, two weeks after Mayor Gavin Newsom authorized granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The licenses were later voided by the California Supreme Court.

Also ranting online was celebrity disc jockey Samantha Ronson. Lindsay Lohan's gal pal blogged Thursday that she was shocked California voters approved an animal-rights initiative but that ballot measures about gay marriage and adoption in California, Florida, Arizona and Arkansas were shot down.

"I guess people care more about farm animals than they do their fellow man, that's really sad to me," Ronson wrote on her MySpace blog. "Yes, I am glad that the chickens will have more room and better conditions as they wait to die, but I just think it's frightening that people show more compassion for tomorrow's dinner than for the chef."

Other celebs used time in the spotlight to decry the decision. Madonna took a moment during her concert at Dodger Stadium to declare to the audience that she was sad "because African-Americans are equal finally, but gay marriage is not." Former teen queen Christina Aguilera also spoke out against the ban.

"I think it's discrimination," Aguilera said in a Thursday interview with MTV News. "I don't understand how people can be so close-minded and so judgmental. We chose an African-American president who means so much in a time in history of great change and open-mindedness. Why is this any different? It just doesn't make sense to me."

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AP Television reporters Marcela Isaza and Natalie Rotman contributed to this report.

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