No, okay, the basics:
A number of developments arose in the wake of Mayor Gavin Newsom's 2004 decision to perform same sex marriages in San Francisco. The marriages were soon annulled by the courts, but San Francisco began a legal challenge that was consolidated with other cases as In re Marriage Cases. On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court, by a vote of 4–3, ruled in that case to strike down Proposition 22 and all other prohibitions on same-sex marriage, as violating the state constitution, and ordered the state to begin processing same-sex marriages as of June 17, 2008. The court subsequently refused to issue a stay of its order. 
While the case was under way, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed two legislative bills approving same-sex marriage. Anticipating that either the courts or the legislature might overturn Proposition 22, opponents of same-sex marriages introduced a number of unsuccessful attempts to place a constitutional amendment before voters that would prohibit same-sex marriages—and in some cases, domestic partnerships as well. Prior to 2008, none had made it to the ballot.
In late 2007 and 2008, at least four different groups sponsored new ballot initiatives for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages. The one that did obtain enough signatures, is the "California Marriage Protection Act" (officially titled the "Limit on Marriage" Constitutional Amendment by the California Attorney General), sponsored by ProtectMarriage.com.
...If passed, the amendment would override the ruling in In re Marriage Cases that struck down both the 1977 law and Proposition 22. The Constitution, as amended, would add a new section (Section 7.5) to Article I, placing it between the state Equal Protection clause and nondiscrimination in business and the professions. This new section would read:
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
According to Joan Hollinger, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, "Constitutional scholars agree that the amendment cannot be effective retroactively, so anyone married before November would be protected.
You can see how there'd be no bureaucratic headaches associated with trying to explain to various agencies how no really, YOUR same-sex marriage is valid, check the dates and the jurisdiction, etc. here, can't you? I mean, already it's clear as mud, the whole thing. You realize that because of the "state's rights" business, we're going to be going through this, if we haven't already, in every. single. state. over. and over. and over...
anyway, meanwhile, so, this one: well, you'd think it'd be a forgone conclusion that this prop's not gonna fly. Lot of people who won't go to the mat for gay folk as such aren't too jazzed about actually amending the constitution, even at the state level. The Gubernator, for instance:
] Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that although he has opposed and has vetoed legislative bills that would legalize same sex marriage in California, he is opposed to the initiative and other attempts to amend the state's constitution. Schwarzenegger released the following statement on May 15, 2008 regarding the ruling:
I respect the Court's decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.
and some other surprises (well, depending on your POV I suppose it mightn't be):
Republican political activist Ward Connerly, the author of Proposition 209 (California's ballot initiative to ban affirmative action), stated, "For anyone to say that this is an issue for people who are gay and that this isn't about civil rights is sadly mistaken. If you really believe in freedom and limited government, to be intellectually consistent and honest you have to oppose efforts of the majority to impose their will on people."
Three of the four judges who ruled in favor of striking down Prop 22, etc. were Republican appointees.
And the ballot that's going in front of the voters in November, thanks to Attorney General Jerry Brown, reads as follows:
ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments.
Proposition 8 supporters immediately mounted a legal challenge to the changes, contending that Attorney General Brown had inserted "inflammatory" language that would "unduly prejudice voters against" Proposition 8.
That legal challenge was denied, and the proposition remains on the ballot as worded. Noting, of course, that challenges to the legitimacy of having the proposition on the ballot at all from the other side did not play either.
These are the poll numbers over the last few months, roughly:
Field Poll in both May and a later one in July has 51% "no," 42% "yes," and 7% "undecided."
There's also an L.A./KTLA poll with the majority in favor of the amendment, but that's from May.
Still, not exactly a done deal, here, particularly since apparently they only need a simple majority win to go ahead and amend the state Constitution.
Oh, btw, McCain's in favor.
"I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman, just as we did in my home state of Arizona. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions."
...and Obama's agin' it.
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, who previously said the issue of gay marriage should be left up to each state, has announced his opposition to a California ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriages.
In a letter to the Alice B. Toklas LGBT Democratic Club read Sunday at the group's annual Pride Breakfast in San Francisco, the Illinois senator said he supports extending "fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law."
"And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states," Obama wrote.
The explanation of -why- a bunch of people are fighting tooth and nail to make sure that longterm same sex relationships such as this one of 51 years are not recognized as -marriage-, if you want to know, goes something like--well, here's the official campaign headquarters for this round, "Protect Marriage:"
The Supreme Court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage did not just overturn the will of California voters; it also redefined marriage for the rest of society, without ever asking the people themselves to accept this decision. This decision has far-reaching consequences. For example, because public schools are already required to teach the role of marriage in society as part of the curriculum, schools will now be required to teach students that gay marriage is the same as traditional marriage, starting with kindergarteners. By saying that a marriage is between “any two persons” rather than between a man and a woman, the Court decision has opened the door to any kind of “marriage.” This undermines the value of marriage altogether at a time when we should be restoring marriage, not undermining it.
...Proposition 8 is NOT an attack on gay couples and does not take away the rights that same-sex couples already have under California’s domestic partner law. California law already grants domestic partners all the rights that a state can grant to a married couple. Gays have a right to their private lives, but not to change the definition of marriage for everyone else.
1) The "will of the voters" is required in order to decide whether to -include- more marriages as, well, marriages; it is a terrible affront to some people that other people think they can get married just like Some People, without even asking Some Peoples' permission or ANYTHING: this is what is known as "demanding special rights."
2) This is especially terrible because, even if Jill and Jane are now a respectable married couple instead of shady deviants lurking in the margins of society, kindergarteners deserve to be protected from the knowledge that this is so.
3) Anyway, you don't really -need- marriage, domestic partnership gives you all the same benefits. It's just the word we want. RLY SRSLY TRUFAX. At the same time, the word is REALLY REALLY IMPORTANT, enough so that we're going to spend zillions of dollars making sure you can't share it with us, because otherwise it'll mean the end of "traditional marriage" (which apparently has nothing to do with rights or legal recognition), and the state is going to crack off and fall into the sea, or something.
4) The Prop 8 authors are not haters so STOP SAYING THAT.
...and why o why does all this sound so strangely familiar...going to the mat over language while swearing it doesn't mean anything -really-...convoluted explanations of why certain borders must remain policed...we only want such a tiny small thing for ourselves, you militants are ruining everything... -think think- Eh, it'll come to me. -glances vaguely downward over the scope of the blog for the last while-
Oh, and by the way? Domestic partnership? Ain't the same, and not just because of the symbolism:
The law does not give same-sex couples any of the more than 1000 rights and benefits that the federal government gives to married couples, including:
the right to sponsor a partner for immigration purposes;
the right to family-related Social Security benefits;
the right to federal income and estate tax breaks; and
the right to purchase continued health coverage for a partner after the loss of a job.
Right now, the federal government wont let any state extend these federal benefits to same-sex couples, no matter what the relationship is called.
Even under California law, same-sex couples are not completely equal. Domestic Partners cannot file joint state income taxes and state employees are not entitled to the same benefits under the states long-term care benefits package. (This could be an advantage. See below.)
In addition, if you enter into a California domestic partnership, many of the protections will not exist if and when you are outside California. For instance, if you or your partner are injured in another state, you are [not, one assumes this is a typo] allowed hospital visitation or the right to make emergency medical decisions on behalf of your partner.
States' rights, see. Rarely a good thing.