SAN MATEO — Hope remains for those wanting to defeat the state measure that would eliminate same-sex marriage.

The No on Prop. 8 forces have yet to concede because more than 3 million absentee and provisional ballots still need to be counted.

Polls showed the measure passed by 52 percent, which prompted the Office of the Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder in San Mateo County to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and conducting marriages Wednesday.

Still optimistic, Laurie Carter of San Carlos remained focused on the two bright sides of Prop. 8: It galvanized people who weren't supportive of the gay community to realize it's a civil rights issue, and prompted people to come out of the closet.

Carter is president of the San Jose/Peninsula chapter of PFLAG — Parents, Families & Friends of Lesbians & Gays.

"A lot of families of gay people came out and said 'We have a gay cousin, a gay child, or a gay aunt,'" she said. "The only argument against it was religious."

Millions of dollars were thrown into protectmarriage.com, a large coalition of Roman Catholics, evangelicals, Mormons and non-Christians, which endorsed the passage of Prop. 8.

In May, the state Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage despite Prop. 22 banning gay marriages eight years ago.

The California Catholic Conference saluted voters who supported the measure.


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In a statement released Wednesday, Bishop Stephen Blaire, president of the conference, said the constitutional amendment restores the definition of marriage as the union between a man and woman.

Under state law, same sex couples who register as domestic partners will continue to have "the same rights, protections, and benefits" as married persons.

"It is our hope that more people will come to see how important traditional marriage between a man and a woman is to the fabric of human society and the strength of the family," Blaire said.

The Rev. Larry Ellis of the Pilgrim Baptist Church in San Mateo said he was not surprised that it passed.

"A traditional marriage between a man and a woman is rooted so deeply in the fabric of the country," he said. "I don't think the country wants to go that way (accepting same-sex marriage) as a majority."

For months, supporters of same-sex marriage have compared their struggle with the Loving v. Loving case, a civil rights case in Virginia that eventually ended all race-based legal restrictions on marriage in the country.

Ellis disagreed with the similarities.

"It was not a case of man marrying a man," he said.

San Mateo County Supervisor Rich Gordon has been legally married to Dennis McShane since August. The proposition has not taken that away from them.

Gordon said he was concerned that California voters "weren't fully there yet," to accept gay marriage.

Aside from being hurt and saddened, he said he is relieved to know that there is a greater understanding and acceptance of equality.

"I believe we will have a day when marriage between same-sex couples will again be a part of the law in California," Gordon said. "I think it's obviously unfortunate that this proposition wrote permanent discrimination into our state constitution, and also it is unfortunate religious groups provided so much funding to create so much hate."

Meanwhile, Chief Elections Officer & Assessor-County Clerk-Recorder Warren Slocum said it has been a "privilege and an honor" to marry same-sex couples in the county, but predicted there will be lawsuits and legal challenges in the future.

Already, there's rumblings of repealing Prop. 8 in the next election, Carter said.

However, she said it's too soon to tell.

The Rev. Terri Echelbarger at Peninsula Metropolitan Community Church in San Mateo said whatever happens to the proposition, the weddings she has performed in the past will remain legal.

"These marriages performed now and before are valid in the sight of friends, family and the community that loves them," she said.

Reach Christine Morente at 650-348-4333.