On This Day: Proposition 8 is passed in California, banning same-sex marriage

With over 13 million votes cast, California voters approve Proposition 8 on November 4, 2008, amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage.

Only months earlier, in May 2008, the California Supreme Court had deemed the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, making California the second state in the country to legalize gay marriage. Thus, Proposition 8 reversed the state court’s ruling.

Proposition 8, which “provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California,” passed 52% to 48%, by a margin of about 600,000 votes. The proposition was opposed by a broad coalition including major corporations such as PG&E and Apple; a litany of civil rights, social justice and community-based organizations; a dozen unions; both sitting U.S. Senators, 16 congressional representatives and the sitting governor; and seven mayors. Californian voters received robocalls from former president Bill Clinton asking them to vote no on the measure, while actors from the television show “Ugly Betty” argued in Spanish-language TV spots that voting no “is not about being gay or straight,” but “about being American.”

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