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Ward Connerly, the affirmative action foe, takes a stand in support of same-sex marriage

October 31, 2008 |  8:36 am

Liberals don’t much like Ward Connerly.

At least, they don’t know exactly what to make of him.

Connerly, an African American, is the former University of California regent who promoted Proposition 209, the 1996 initiative that abolished affirmative action in California state hiring and contracting and public college admissions.

But now, writing an opinion article in today’s Sacramento Bee, Connerly announced his opposition to Proposition 8, the initiative on Tuesday’s ballot that would ban same-sex marriage by defining marriage as being between one man and one woman.

“I consider it discriminatory and I abhor discrimination by our government against its taxpaying citizens,” Connerly writes. “That is why I am voting no on Proposition 8.”

In an interview today with The Times, Connerly said he made the decision without telling the No-on-8 campaign consultants, and against the wishes of some of his political advisors.

“There are times when you have consider who you are,” Connerly said.

Connerly, whose wife is white, noted that when he got married in 1962, “the government in many parts of our country did not legally allow us to do that. I have never forgotten that.”

“Many people invoked the Bible to say that blacks and whites should not marry and that our marriage was going to destroy Western society,” Connerly said. “All that stuff comes back.”

Connerly, appointed to the regents by former Gov. Pete Wilson in the 1990s, remains on the bad side of many liberals. He has taken his anti-affirmative-action campaign on the road, winning passage of similar measures in two other states.

Such measures are on ballots in Colorado and Nebraska on Tuesday. In Colorado, foes of the Amendment 46 targeted Connerly personally and aired an ad that was yanked by Clear Channel stations because, Connerly said, “it was over the top.”

Connerly gave $500 to Barack Obama early in the campaign but never endorsed him. Connerly since has given $5,000 to John McCain and McCain-related committees and said he intends to vote for the Republican.

Connerly and Obama, by the way, are joined in their opposition to Proposition 8. McCain supports its passage.

--Dan Morain

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