California voters have adopted a constitutional amendment outlawing same-sex marriage, overturning the state Supreme Court decision that gave gay couples the right to wed just months ago.
It is widely seen as the most momentous of the 153 ballot measures at stake nationwide.
Sponsors of the ban have declared victory, but the measure's opponents say too many votes remained uncounted for the result to be final.
Returns showed Proposition 8 passing with 52 percent of the vote statewide, with 95% precincts reporting. The measure needs a simple majority to pass. In San Diego County, the vote was 54% for Prop 8, 46% against. There are still 200,000 ballots to be counted including mail in or absentee.
At a coffee shop in Clairemont, reaction to the results is mixed. One woman who voted yes said she's happy, but is surprised at the results. She said she didn't think it would be so close. Another man disagreed. He voted no, but knew it would be close. He said if the measure passes, lawsuits will likely follow.
Both perspectives were found in Hillcrest Wednesday. "I'm actually a little disappointed," said Joe Piluso. "I was hoping it wouldn't pass. I thought considering California had gone for Obama. I got the impression California was really changing in a way. I don't know why people would be opposed to that sort of thing. You know, people getting married. If they're in love and they want to make a family with their lives why shouldn't they be permitted to do it?"
Brad Sund, a Prop 8 supporter said, "I voted yes on it yesterday. I am a traditional conservative. I believe in marriage between a man and a woman. I am probably a minority in this area. But I hold to my Christian values too."
The passage of Proposition 8 represents a crushing political defeat for gay rights activists, who had hoped public opinion on the contentious issue had shifted enough to help them defeat the measure.
It also represents a personal loss for the thousands of couples from California and others states who got married in the brief window when they could. Legal experts have said it will have to be resolved in court whether their unions still are valid.
Spending for and against the amendment has reached $74 million, making it the most expensive social-issues campaign in U.S. history and the most expensive campaign this year outside the race for the White House. Since a state Supreme Court decision tossed out an earlier voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage in May, about 18,000 couples have been married.
This past weekend, about 33,000 supporters of Prop 8, took part in a rally at Qualcomm stadium for about 12 hours, hoping that voters approve the measure. Those against the measure locally include San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders and District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis.