Proposition 8, which puts a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage into California’s state constitution, was passed by voters, according to late returns that came in this morning.
It’s a crushing defeat for many who had seen it as a breakthrough in the struggle for equality of same-sex partners.
It also puts into doubt some of the 18,000 marriages performed since the state Supreme Court cleared the way for such nuptials in May — although some legal scholars believe that those unions will be grandfathered in.
In a conference call with reporters, Geoff Kors and Kate Kendall of the No on 8 campaign said they were still waiting for outstanding absentee and provisional ballots to come in. They estimate that three to four million are still outstanding.
“It’s going to be a bumpy ride,” Kendall said.
The Los Angeles Times puts the vote at 52% Yes and 48% No.
The San Francisco city attorney plans to challenge the validity of the ballot measure in court, and other cities and counties are expected to join in as well.
The first lesbian couple married in Los Angeles County in June also plans to announce a lawsuit, arguing that the measure is unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press.
What went wrong?
There will be consternation and fingerpointing, and an assessment of what could have been done better. The campaign was energized in October, but it was too late. Some are calling for a shakeup in the leadership of gay rights orgs.
Willie Brown was on MSNBC this morning and he said that the failure of the No side speaks to the need to mount a more aggressive ground game in the state. Yes on 8 supporters were blanketing neighborhoods where the No on 8 campaign was not, he said.
But I suspect that there also will be a look at the extent to which out of state money flowed into the Yes on 8 coffers, particularly from the members of the Mormon church. No on 8 had its share of well-heeled donors from across the country, but it was nothing like the organization that had been mounted from Utah.
I have a combination of anger, frustration and optimism. The margin of defeat was far different than the lopsided nature of the measure in 2000. The future, i.e. younger voters, voted overwhelming against the proposition. Some 18,000 couples got married, the traditions and nature of matrimony didn’t collapse and the gay community may have established bonds with other organizations that will last far longer than the certification of this year’s results. The path is still clear.
Update: Chad Griffin, a consultant to the No on 8 campaign, offers this statement: “The passage of Prop 8 will be seen has a dark spot on the history of this great state. This country passed a major milestone with the election our first black president but the results in California, Arkansas and Florida are grim reminders that discrimination and bigotry remain a reality in this country. The struggle for equality is a marathon that we’ll eventually win. The fight goes on…now back to the courts.”
Update: Equality California has filed a suit on behalf of six same-sex couples who planned to marry.