On Tuesday, voters in California approved state Proposition 22, which declares that only marriages between men and women are legally binding. Though California does not currently license same-sex unions, the measure bans recognition of such marriages performed in any other state.
Final results show Proposition 22 passed overwhelmingly at the polls, 61 percent to 39 percent.
Californians "like what has been going on for thousands of years," said State Senator Pete Knight, who pushed the initiative on the ballot. Knight's gay son, David, campaigned against the measure.
"California is not ready for marriage between a man and a man," added the senator.
Now that the 14-word proposition is law, its opponents plan to counter it with their own 14-word measure, which reads: "California's gay and lesbian families deserve the same legal protections as all married couples."
Mike Marshall, the "No On 22" campaign manager, said gay rights groups will push to enact their domestic partnership measure through legislation, executive order or another ballot measure.
In any case, gay activists say their battles are anything but over.
"For the first time we're talking about our lives not in terms of sex or disease, but in how we love and how we live our lives," said Mark Leno, a gay member of San Francisco's governing board of supervisors. "Now we move forward with a fight for full equality for all California families."
But Proposition 22's backers say, look at the results.
"As Californians we are proud of our diversity and tolerance but there are societal boundaries which should be preserved. Tonight we have preserved traditional marriage," said Robert Glazier, a spokesman for the pro-22 effort.
Supporters and opponents of the measure spent more than $13 million combined. Much of the money and most of the volunteers on the pro-22 side came from churches. Opponents included leaders of mainline Protestant churches and liberal denominations. The pro-22 campaign disavowed any anti-gay motives - and said its goal was to let Californians define marriage for themselves.
Exit polls found the measure was supported about equally by men and women and by all races and income groups. It was opposed by young voters and by about two-thirds of Democrats, but Republicans backed it by 6-1. Sixty percent of Catholics and 68 percent of Protestants supported the measure, while 79 percent of Jewish voters opposed it.
Proposition 22 was just one of 20 state ballot items before California voters on Tuesday, making for one of the most crowded ballots in recent memory. The measures tackled a vast array of social and economic issues, from gambling on tribal lands to juvenile crime.
Here's a look at a few of them and how they fared:
- Actor Rob Reiner successfully led the fight against a measure that would have repealed the 50-cent-a-pack ciarette tax he campaigned for in 1998. The original tax was designated to fund early childhood development programs.
- A software millionaire backed a failed measure that would ban corporate campaign contributions and provide partial public funding of campaigns.
- One winning measure sponsored by former Republican Governor Pete Wilson will increase punishment for juvenile crimes.
- And by a wide margin, Californians opted not to give themselves the choice of "none of the above" in state and federal elections.