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Religious Tolerance logo

Same-sex marriage (SSM) & domestic partnerships in California

Events culminating in the
Prop. 8 vote on 2008-NOV-04

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Thomas Jefferson said: "The rights of minorities do not depend upon the goodwill of the majority and cannot be eliminated by majority vote. The rights of minorities are protected because democratic laws and institutions protect the rights of all citizens."

It turns out that he was wrong, at least for California.

Public utility takes pro-equality side:

Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), a public utility that supplies gas and electrical power to most of central and northern California, has announced that they will support marriage equality by donating $250,000 to the "No on 8" campaign and join with Equality California to create a business advisory council to encourage businesses in California to help defeat the ballot measure.

Randy Thomasson, president of Campaign for Children and Families -- a group that opposes marriage equality --  said that the PG&E provides:

"... power -- gas and electricity. They should not be taking positions against ballot measures. That's like a quasi-government agency taking positions against ballot measures, which is illegal. ... It's time for businesses to take a stand. It's either yes or no for natural marriage. The voters need to take a stand -- yes or no for Proposition 8. And businesses, he adds, need to take a stand -- with their dollars -- for the amendment."

One News Now -- a conservative information source -- included in its report:

"He adds that the money contribution would also seem to make PG&E, which services a large part of central and northern California, 'the homosexual marriage utility'." 1

Curiously, they did not place quotation marks around the word "marriage" as has been their custom in the past when referring to same-sex marriage. They have traditionally used quotation marks to indicate that they did not consider same-sex marriage to be a real form of marriage. 1

Episcopal Church bishops oppose Proposition 8:

The bishops from all six Anglican dioceses are recommending that voters defeat the referendum. Nine bishops issued a joint statement on 2008-SEP-10 stating:

"We do not believe that marriage of heterosexuals is threatened by same-sex marriage. Rather, the Christian values of monogamy, commitment, love, mutual respect ... are enhanced for all by providing this right to gay and straight alike."

Bishop J. Jon Bruno of Los Angeles, said the California bishops: "... believe that continued access to civil marriage for all, regardless of sexual orientation ... promotes Jesus' ethic of love, giving and hope."

Other religious leaders, including those from Catholic, evangelical, Hindu and Muslim faith groups are promoting the referendum. 2

Massive funding poured into Prop 8:

The LA Times reported that very substantial sums have been poured into both sides of the Proposition 8 battle, and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) is particularly active in the attempt to ban marriage equality:

"... [All] supporters have poured $19,778,208 to outlaw same-sex marriage, about $1.6 million more than opponents of the measure. Add the two sides together and that's about $38 million. Imagine the good it could be doing elsewhere. ... Mormons have been active participants in the campaign both as volunteers and financial contributors, giving an estimated 43 percent — some $8.4 million — to the Proposition 8 campaign, according to the Web site There are about 770,000 Mormon church members in California, but Mormons from outside the state have been encouraged to give money and time to help pass the measure." 6

Subsequently, the Family Research Council estimated that the Mormon Church donated $22 million in support of Prop. 8. They credit this money as ultimately tipping "... the scales in the amendment's favor." 9

MaxBlumenthal of The Daily Beast reported that other major contributors supporting Prop. 8 were:

bulletThe  Knights of Columbus, a conservative Roman Catholic men's group.
bulletElsa Broekhuizen, the widow of Christian backer Edgard Prince and the mother of Erik Prince, founder of the controversial mercenary firm, Blackwater.
bulletHoward F. Ahmanson, a reclusive heir to a banking fortune, and supporter of such conservative Christian programs teaching Intelligent Design in the public schools , and rolling back affirmative action in California. 10

According to Achievement_gap's Weblog, there were at least ten donors who gave $500,000 or more to fight Prop. 8:

bulletRon Burkle raised $3.9 million from a fund-raiser at his home.
bulletCalifornia Teacher's Association: $1,312,998.
bulletBruce Bastian, (WordPerfect software), $1,000,000
bulletRobert W. Wilson, $1,200,000
bulletDavid Bohnett, lawyer, $1,100,000
bulletDavid Maltz, $1,000,000
bulletJohn Stryker, $1,000,000
bulletFred Eychaner, $675,000
bulletWIlliamson Capital, LP, $570,000
bulletStephen Bing: $500,000 11

Vote No on Prop 8 website offered free cell phone ring message: created a website that allows anyone to convert their cell phone ring tone into a verbal message that promotes the defeat of Prop 8, and the retention of marriage equality for all loving, committed couples. They comment:

"This is a great idea - simple yet effective and keep in mind that it is incumbent upon each of us to do absolutely everything in our power to pull this off.   We each need to bring passion, inspiration, originality and boldness to the table in order to ensure victory. Please do your part by voting NO on Prop 8 and by downloading the message to your cellfone now.  Have all of your friends & family members come to the site and download this message and vote NO on Prop 8!"

The message could be heard and/or downloaded for free at

Joe Biden comments on the "Ellen" show:

On 2008-OCT-20, Ellen Degeneres asked Senator Joe Biden (D-DE), Democratic candidate for vice-president, about his position on Prop. 8. First, he congratulated her on her recent marriage to Portia de Rossi. After the audience applause settled down, he said:

"If I lived in California, I'd clearly vote against Prop 8. Barack [Obama} and I both opposed a similar attempt nationally. There was an attempt to talk about a [federal] constitutional amendment which I think is regressive; I think it is unfair." 3

Prop 8 campaign distributes misleading flier:

The vote yes campaign admitted that it had lied about Senator Barak Obama's and Joe Biden's position on same-sex marriage in a pamphlet that it had distributed to African-American voters. The flyer incorrectly stated that Senator Obama urged voters to vote yes on Prop 8 and thus defeat marriage equality.

In response, the NO on 8 Campaign launched a TV ad blitz in the state on 2008-NOV-01. It states that:

bulletSen. Obama has called Prop 8 "divisive and discriminatory,"
bullet Gov. Schwarzenegger has said "it should never happen," and
bulletSen. Feinstein closes by telling voters: "No matter how you feel about marriage, vote against discrimination, and Vote NO on 8."

Meanwhile, on OCT-30. Obama campaign released a statement on OCT-31 that stated, in part:

"The Obama-Biden ticket opposes Proposition 8 and similar discriminatory constitutional amendments that could roll back the civil rights he and Sen. Biden strongly believe should be afforded to all Americans." 4
Patrick Guerriero, NO On Prop 8 Campaign Manager, said:
"This incredible cross-section of support comes at the same time that Prop 8 continues to spin a campaign of lies and distortions. Proposition 8 is wrong, and targeting certain communities with lies is wrong. Voters get it, and that’s why Prop 8 will fail on Tuesday." 4

The No on 8 campaign produced a TV commercial that is wildly misleading if interpreted literally. It shows some Mormon missionaries invading the home of a lesbian couple, stealing their wedding rings, and tearing up their marriage certificate. 9

Barak Obama comments on MTV:

Senator Obama was asked about Prop 8 during an MTV interview aired on 2008-NOV-3. He responded:

"I think it's unnecessary."

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. I am not in favor of gay marriage. But when you start playing around with constitutions, just to prohibit somebody who cares about another person, it just seems to me that's not what America's about." 5

On other occasions, Senator Obama has indicated his support for civil unions for same-sex couples with rights and obligations equal to those of marriage.... without the word "marriage."

Prop 8 narrowly passes:

The final results were:

  • 6,068,393 voters (52.25%) approved Prop 8.
  • 5,544,962 voters (47.75%) were opposed.
  • 11,613,355 voters were cast.
  • The margin of victory was 4.5% 12

If a little over 2% of those supporting Prop 8 had opposed it, the measure would have failed.

Meanwhile, state constitutional SSM bans won in Arizona and Florida. 7 An Arkansas measure that prevents unmarried couples from adopting children or being foster parents also passed. Promoters of the initiative admit that their measure mainly targets same-sex couples. 8

References used:

 The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Ed Thomas, "California's 'homosexual marriage' public utility," One News Now, 2008-AUG-01, at:
  2. "Calif. Episcopal bishops oppose gay marriage ban," Religion News Service, 2008-SEP-11, at:
  3. Biden on 'Ellen' to talk about gay marriage, not wanting to be VP," Women on the Web, 2008-OCT-21, at: (Includes video)
  4. Ali Bay, "NO on 8 reveals new ad...," EQCA, 2008-NOV-01, at: (Includes video of the ad.)
  5. Jennifer Mesko, "With Obama, the Writing is on the Wall,", 2008-NOV-03, at:
  6.  "Mormon Church steps into the Prop. 8 battle," Los Angeles Times, 2008-OCT-09, at:
  7. "Election Night Results," CA Secretary of State, at:
  8. David Crary, "Massachusetts voters reject income tax repeal," Associated Press, 2008-NOV-04.
  9. Tony Perkins, "Washington Update, 2008-NOV-07, at:
  10. Max Blumenthal, "The man behind Proposition 8," The Daily Beast, 2008-NOV-03, at:
  11. "Honor Roll - No on Prop 8 Donors & Contributors," Achievement_gap's Weblog, 2008-NOV-17, at:
  12. James Welch, "California Proposition 8 Vote Analysis By County," Jim 2.5's Blog, 2008-NOV-13, at:

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Home page > "Hot" topics > Homosexuality > Couples > California > here

Copyright © 2008 to 2010 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update and review: 2010-AUG-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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