A ballot measure that would amend the constitution of California to define marriage as between a man and a woman appears to have passed.
Many news outlets in the state are reporting that the four month honeymoon is over and Californians have voted to deny gays the right to marry.
However, opponents of Proposition 8 claim there are millions of votes still to be counted.
Since June, gay and lesbian couples have been marrying in America’s most populous state.
But in a close race, California’s voters appear to have taken action that will ensure that the state’s judges will not be able to rule that same-sex marriage is a right.
With 96.4% of precincts reporting, Proposition 8 was approved by 5,220,694 voters (52.2%) and opposed by 4,792,873 (47.8%), according to the California Secretary of State’s website.
The San Francisco City Attorney has already said he plans to challenge the validity of Prop 8 in the California Supreme Court.
Opponents of Prop 8 are refusing to concede.
“Roughly 400,000 votes separate yes from no on Prop 8 – out of 10 million votes tallied,” said Geoff Kors of the NO on Prop 8 campaign.
“Based on turnout estimates reported yesterday, we expect that there are more than 3 million and possibly as many as 4 million absentee and provisional ballots yet to be counted.
“Given that fundamental rights are at stake, we must wait to hear from the Secretary of State tomorrow how many votes are yet to be counted as well as where they are from.
“It is clearly a very close election and we monitored the results all evening and this morning.
“As of this point, the election is too close to call.
“Because Prop 8 involves the sensitive matter of individual rights, we believe it is important to wait until we receive further information about the outcome.”
On May 15th the state Supreme Court ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 in 2000 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution.
The Court voted 4 to 3 to strike the ban on gay marriage in California, making the state only the second in the US after Massachusetts to allow same-sex couples to marry legally under state law.
Proposition 8 had qualified for the election day ballot with 1.12 million signatures, hundreds of thousands more than the minimum required to trigger the statewide referendum.
It will add a new clause to the constitution: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California.
Ballot measures to ban gay marriage also passed in Florida and Arizona.
It is unclear how the California result will affect the more than 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who remain legally married.
It is the first time a ban on same-sex marriage has been approved by voters in a state where such marriages are already legal.
In Florida and Arizona, similar measures designed to stop “activist judges” from granting equality to all citizens were adopted in statewide ballots.
30 states now have a definition of marriage written into their constitution.