As the night wears on, it appears Prop 8, the "marriage is between a man and a woman" proposition, is going to pass. For the purposes of this post I'm going to assume it does, because I'm headed to bed.
I'd like to throw a shout out to the single man I think responsible for having such a thing added to the California Constitution: Gavin Newsom, San Francisco Mayor who blundered his way into setting back gay rights more than ever imaginable.
A proposition much like this one passed in 2000, called Prop 22. However Prop 22 established a California law to this effect. To challenge this law, in 2003 or 4, Newsom started issuing marriage licenses for gay couples. The validity of these was challenged and eventually, the case was taken to a court wherein the justices threw out Prop 22 as unconstitutional. Prop 8 now will add this same verbiage to the Constitution. Therefore it cannot be ruled unconstitutional (at least not within California courts... Federal Courts maybe).
As you probably know, local laws are usurped by State laws, and state laws by Federal Laws. So when Newsom began issuing these licenses, he was in violation of state law. Even at the time, though I agreed with the premise, I thought he had overstepped his bounds and was going to suffer a backlash. People do not like executives who break the law, especially a law approved state-wide. But it got worse. His challenge to this ended up in the hands of Courts. People do not like it when judges decide against a law they put in place. But the real kicker... when this decision came down, Newsom made his now infamous "whether you like it or not!" declaration. People in a Democracy will never stand for executives telling them that, oftentimes no matter how they think of the issue academically. The "Yes on Prop 8" campaign certainly used that one to their advantage.
Newsom's political acumen and foresight was incredibly off in every way possible. Maybe not in San Francisco, where he's been re-elected, but certainly almost everywhere else in this state and country.
It's very easy to amend the California Constitution, and that's where we are today. Instead of the progress towards rights for gay couples that has been steadily gaining steam for many years, the people of CA amended the constitution to forbid it. There goes that idea.
Furthermore--this is water under the bridge tonight of course--Newsom should be held at least partially responsible for the 2004 victory of George W Bush. His lack of foresight ended up making gay marriage a voting issue that year, and brought out a nationwide conservative push in a year where GWB should have certainly lost (in my opinion) due to the political and strategic blunders he had made in the two prior years in Iraq.
FWIW, I voted against Newsom in the last SF election... and probably could have just based on his lack of judgment on this issue alone. I'm somewhat surprised more people haven't woken up to the responsibility he should accept for this debacle. And that Heather Fong should be fired. We're again on track for more homicides in SF than the prior year.
In pretty much every way I can imagine, Newsom is one of the worst Mayors in any city I've ever lived in.