California's Proposition 22 "Limit on Marriage" initiative to deny legal recognition to same-gender marriages another state may someday perform, passed by a landslide. With 100% of precincts reporting, in unofficial returns the "yeas" led the "nays" by 61% - 39%, or 4,148,330 to 2,603,898 (together representing about 30% of California's more than 22-million registered voters). That was an even bigger margin than shown by polls completed the week before, which had indicated a win by only 13%.

Exit Polls
As the totals suggest, support for Proposition 22 was widespread. Of California's 58 counties, only five had majorities opposing the initiative: the San Francisco Bay area counties of Alameda, Marin, San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Sonoma. Some rural counties favored the measure by 4 - 1.

Both men and women supported the measure strongly and approximately equally. The majority support extended through all income groups and races, with 70% of Latino voters favoring the initiative. Catholics and Christians of every stripe voted strongly in favor, while a majority of Jews opposed it. A 58% majority of voters under 30 opposed Proposition 22, while voters over 60 supported the measure by nearly 70%.

The "Los Angeles Times" asked voters the interesting question, "How much do you personally identify with the gay or lesbian community?" Those who identified "a lot" opposed Proposition 22 by 91% - 9%; those who identified "some" opposed the measure by 62% to 38%; and those who identified "not at all" supported the initiative by 70% - 30%.

Politically, Republicans favored Proposition 22 by nearly 6 - 1, while Democrats opposed it by nearly 2 - 1 and independents split 50 - 50. Backers of Presidential hopeful Republican Texas Governor George W. Bush supported Proposition 22 by about 6 - 1 while those who favored Republican Arizona Senator John McCain supported the initiative by almost 2 - 1. Voters supporting Presidential hopeful Democratic Vice President Al Gore opposed Proposition 22 by 57%, while 71% of those who chose Democratic former New Jersey Senator Bill Bradley opposed the initiative. Starting from voters' positions on Proposition 22, those who voted yes were most likely to support Bush for the Presidency, followed by McCain; those who voted no on Proposition 22 were most likely to support Gore for the Presidency, followed by McCain and then Bradley.

Democratic leaders were nearly unanimous in opposing Proposition 22, including President Bill Clinton, both rivals for his job Gore and Bradley, California Governor Gray Davis, and both U.S. Senators from California Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein.

Some moderate Republicans also opposed Proposition 22, including Feinstein's November challenger Congressmember Tom Campbell and Los Angeles' popular Mayor Richard Riordan.

Bush preferred not to take a position on what he considered a state matter, while McCain (after some initial confusion) supported Proposition 22 just as he had voted for the related federal Defense of Marriage Act in 1996. The California Republican Party took a position supporting the initiative at its 1999 annual convention.

The Yes on 22 campaign spent about $8-million compared to $5.5-million for the No on 22/No on Knight campaign in recent reporting; some estimates of total fund-raising on the initiative ranged as high as $16-million. The Yes campaign was underway about a year before the balloting and benefited from support from California's Roman Catholic bishops, individual members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) who were strongly encouraged by church leadership, and from a number of conservative evangelical churches. More liberal clergy came out in opposition but without the same kind of institutional backing. Commentators remarked that they had never seen so much religious involvement in a California initiative campaign before.

The initiative's sponsor state Senator Pete Knight (R-Palmdale), who was notable by his absence from the campaign, had failed in three attempts to enact similar measures through the Democrat-dominated California legislature. Some 30 other states have done so, however, and South Dakota joined them just last week. While in 1998 both Hawai'i and Alaska passed ballot initiatives to prohibit same-gender marriages within their states by even bigger margins (responding to judicial rulings), California is the first state to close the door solely on out-of-state gay and lesbian marriages by means of a referendum. However, petition drives are already underway for similar measures in Colorado and Nevada.

State law already restricts marriages performed within California to heterosexual couples.