Big money and bigotry won the day. The Church of Latter-Day Saints, whose entire religion is based upon a badly-written racist confabulation called the "Book of Mormon," coughed up about 80% of the money to get Proposition 8 passed, which it narrowly did. And, while the figures may not be all that they seem, it appears evident that most African American voters in California helped to push this regressive measure through. I can well understand the sense of betrayal felt by many GLBT people, who have traditionally stood up for civil rights and against racism.
But let's be clear: plenty of whites and Latinos voted for the proposition as well. It's racist to single out Blacks, many of whom voted against the measure. Once again, the latter find themselves homogenized and viciously scapegoated. That's not right, and cooler and wiser heads in the GLBT community have called for restraint.
But the Mormons don't get off that easily. They belong to a homophobic church with a racist past, based upon a "holy" book that reinforces a racist message, even with an "amendment" inserted in 1981 in an attempt to obfuscate it. Unlike gays, Mormons have a choice. Religion is not genetic. And the Church, whose adherents were instructed to provide wholehearted support of Proposition 8, is a tax-deductible institution, so that, in effect, taxpayers are being forced to subsidize bigotry.
I don't happen to believe that marriage is a "right." Historically, "wedlock" has been oppressive from a woman's point of view. But if that charmingly antiquated institution is available for straights, there is no good reason to deny it to gays, any more than there was for denying it to interracial couples in most of the US until the 1960s.
It's the issue of discrimination that is really before us, not marriage per se. That entails rights: equality before the law is fundamental, or it should be.
Putting rights to a vote is simply not on. And pouring millions of dollars into winning a vote against rights is reprehensible. This wasn't a triumph of democracy. It was an exercise in the backlash politics of hatred.