After a long fight that cost a combined $74 million, voters in California have rejected the notion that two people of the same sex should be allowed to be married.
A night of ballot counting led to the announcement that Proposition 8, an effort to amend the state constitution to say "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," has been passed.
"We caused Californians to rethink this issue," Proposition 8 strategist Jeff Flint told the Los Angeles Times. "I think the voters were thinking, well, if it makes them happy ... And I think we made them realize that there are broader implications to society and particularly the children when you make that fundamental change that's at the core of how society is organized."
West Hollywood's Mayor Jeff Prang captured the sentiment of many gay Californians in reflecting on the news.
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"They’ve taken from us something we had," Prang told WeHoNews.com. "I feel like a Christian in the coliseum seeing the Emperor’s thumb go down."
Hopes that the 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place since June are likely to lead to further disappointment, says Mathew D. Staver, an attorney who has argued against gay marriage before California's Supreme Court.
"Constitutional amendments are retroactive," Staver told People magazine.
A bitter irony for the gay community is that while gays voted for Barack Obama in record numbers in yesterday's presidential election, it may have been the president-elect's black supporters in California that put Prop. 8 over the top.
"According to exit polls, whites opposed the amendment 53-47," reported National Review. "But blacks supported it 70-30, and Latinos supported it 51-49."
Proponents of the bill anticipated just such an outcome a month ago.
"We thank Barack Obama, even though he's not supporting it, for helping us," Sonja Eddings Brown, of the anti-gay-marriage group called Protect Marriage, told CBS. "We think it's going to push us over the top."
Ever the politician, Obama tried to stake a position on both sides of the issue, denouncing the amendment, but also expressing the belief that marriage is between a man and a woman.
"I've stated my opposition to this. I think it's unnecessary," Obama told MTV. "I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that's not what America's about."
Not surprisingly, City Attorney Dennis Herrera of San Francisco is already poised to mount a legal challenge.
Additionally, Attorney Gloria Allred, plans to represent Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin, the first same-sex couple to wed after the state Supreme Court threw out a previous gay marriage ban. In June, Lyon, 83, and Martin, 87, wed after 50 years together.
"When first got together, we were not really thinking about getting married, we were thinking about getting together," Lyon said at the time. "I think it's a wonderful day."
"Yes, it is heart-breaking: it is always hard to be in a tiny minority whose rights and dignity are removed by a majority," wrote Andrew Sullivan of the Atlantic. "But I realize I am not shattered. My own marriage exists and is real without the approval of others. One day soon, it will be accepted by a majority."