Written by Phil Maggitti
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Topics: Marriage, Elections

Monday, 31 January 2005

image for Gay Marriage Referendum Big Winner in Iraqi Elections
Two soldiers celebrating passage of gay marriage referendum in Baghdad.

BAGHDAD - Iraqi voters, who risked their lives to go to the polls on Sunday, thumbed their noses at President Bush and his Christian coalition allies by voting overwhelmingly in favor of a referendum legalizing gay marriage in their country. "All over Iraq people are laughing at the American commander in briefs," said Ari Ur Anus-muhkti, leader of the Baghdad chapter of Act Up.

"Getting the referendum on the ballot was like giving candy to a baby," Ur-Anus-muhkti told a Western reporter who has been embedded with Act Up in Baghdad for weeks. "Everybody was so afraid of the insurgents that quorum regulations were suspended for ballot initiative meetings. We were able to sneak the referendum in through the back door by packing those meeting with our supporters."

Although the White House has maintained an official silence regarding the gay marriage referendum thus far, a source close to the president observed, "This could decimate troop strength. Openly gay people can't serve in the military, and what's more openly gay than two guys exchanging wedding vows to a recording of Cat Stevens singing "Morning Has Broken"?

News of the referendum was greeted with shouts and gunfire by American troops in Iraq, many of whom had entered into same-sex relationships after arriving there. "I never thought I'd live to see this day," said staff sergeant Leroy Neighbors, who is stationed in the Christopher Street compound near Baghdad. "My partner and I plan to hit the Baghdad Ministry of Weddings as soon as we get a weekend pass. We're the new coalition of the willing."

In this country reaction to the referendum was mixed. Former presidential candidate John Kerry called it "the right move, in the right country, at the right time. But I still think that marriage among civilians ought to be restricted to unions between a man and a woman."

Jerry Falwell told CNN's Wolff Blitzer that soldiers who get married in Iraq "should be dishonorably discharged and forced to live in Vermont when they return home."

The Bravo Channel, meanwhile, said it was rushing a new show called "Queer Eye for the Military Guy" into production.

In related news, the gay marriage referendum wasn't the only controversial referendum to slip through the cracks in the Iraqi elections. Voters also approved the legalization of marijuana and the awarding of a National Football League franchise to Fallujah.

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