What’s happening with Proposition 8

As of the latest unofficial returns, it seems Proposition 8 — the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage — is passing with 5,235,486 votes (52.2 percent); opponents offered 4,800,656 votes (47.8 percent).

“Yes on 8” chairman Ron Prentice issued a statement early this morning declaring victory:

While it will take a few weeks to finish counting all the votes, Proposition 8 takes effect at midnight tonight. Just as it was before the Supreme Court’s ruling, only marriage between a man and a woman will be valid or recognized in California, regardless of when or where performed.

This has been a hard-fought campaign on both sides. Now that the people of California have decided this issue, we hope there can be a healing among all and a continued respect for the diverse views that have been expressed during this campaign.

The outcome of this race is being closely followed in every state in the nation, and in countries throughout the world. California’s vote in favor of traditional marriage should give the silent majority comfort that they do have a voice and can and should stand up for this precious institution in legislatures throughout the world. Marriage is between a man and a woman.

But the “No on 8” campaign issued a statement refusing to concede the race:

Roughly 400,000 votes separate yes from no on Prop 8 — out of 10 million votes tallied.

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 about 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.

Here’s how the Bay Area voted, according to this morning’s latest but not-yet-final returns:

————————— Yes ————- No
Alameda —————— 38.1 ———— 61.9
Contra Costa ————- 45.09 ———– 54.91
Napa ——————— 44.94 ———– 55.06
San Francisco ———— 23.48 ———– 76.52
San Joaquin ————– 65.44 ———– 34.56
San Mateo ————— 37.6 ———— 62.4
Santa Clara ————– 44.39 ———– 55.61
Santa Cruz ————— 28.61 ———– 71.39
Solano ——————- 56.03 ———– 43.97
Sonoma —————— 33.9 ———— 66.1

I think the most telling numbers from this race come from Los Angeles, where Proposition 8 seems to have narrowly prevailed, 50.4 percent to 49.6 percent. LA is generally very Democratic – Obama won 69.33 percent of the vote there – yet that political liberalism didn’t translate into “No on 8” votes. I think many African-American and Latino churches were very effective in getting their flocks out to the polls for Obama, and for Proposition 8.

If Proposition 8 has passed when the election returns are finalized, it’ll go straight to court. The American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights already have petitioned the California Supreme Court to invalidate the measure; they argue the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the state constitution’s commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians. They also say Prop. 8 seeks to keep the courts from exercising their essential role of protecting minorities’ equal-protection rights; the state Constitution says such changes to state government’s organizing principles can’t be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must at least pass through the state Legislature first.

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.