US voters are not only voting for a new president today but also in four state referendums on gay and lesbian rights.

Polls suggest that Democratic Party candidate Barack Obama, who is significantly more pro-gay in his policies than Republican John McCain, is the front-runner in the presidential election.

If Obama wins he would be the first African American to be elected as president.

In addition to the nation choosing a leader, four states have also included referendums on same-sex rights on their ballots today.

The most publicised is Proposition 8 in California. If Californians vote for the proposition, that state’s constitution would be amended to limit marriage to only being between a man and a woman.

This would effectively reverse the legalisation of same-sex marriage by the California Supreme Court earlier this year.

The multi-million dollar battle over Proposition 8 has become a media spectacle thanks to the high-profile figures and celebrities that have come out against it.

Those in support of keeping same-sex marriage legal in California have included Brad Pitt, Mary J Blige, Steven Spielberg, Barbara Streisand, America Ferrera, Melissa Etheridge, Magic Johnson, Ellen DeGeneres and even former president Bill Clinton.

While Obama has said that he does not support same-sex marriage (he does approve of same-sex civil unions similar to marriage) he has also come out against Proposition 8.

“…when you start playing around with constitutions just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person…it just seems to me that that’s not what America is about. Usually, our constitutions expand liberties, they don’t contract them,” he said in a television interview on Saturday.

Voters in Florida and Arizona have also been asked to decide on amendments to their state constitutions which would bar same-sex marriage.

In the case of Florida, the measure is even more extreme; proposing a ban not only on gay marriage but also on civil unions. It would also limit the state from recognising any relationships between people who are not legally married.

In Arkansas, voters will be voting on limiting adoption to heterosexual people who are legally married.

Polls indicate that the battle between those for and against these measures is too close to call.

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