No, really. It is true that there are homophobic people who believe that it is a sin to do The Gay, and thus hate those ungodly sinners. But I don't believe that there are enough of those people to have passed proposition 8 alone. The majority who voted yes on 8 did so not out of hate, but out of fear.
To most people, marriage is not just a contract, not just a private declaration of love and commitment. Marriage is a symbol for a way of life. Even for unmarried, unreligious people it represents stability, security and happiness. It is the reward for life's hardships. It is the goal.
But for all of the deeply held faith that many have in this symbol, marriage is really not much to look at. Swept under the rug of "the sanctity of marriage" are high divorce rates, infidelity, bitter custody disputes. Even among marriages that manage to achieve 'till death do us part, many are reduced to joyless drudgery before the sweet end claims them.
It is news to no one that marriage is not in and of itself the doorway to marital bliss. The stamp of approval from your church or your government will not magically transform your rickety relationship into rock solid eternal bond. Everyone knows this, and yet people put their faith in marriage with near religious fervor, because they desperately need to believe that there is something that is stable and solid and forever. They need to believe there is a happy ending that will be there waiting for them.
This is why people are afraid. Our society at large has built their hopes and dreams on a foundation so tenuous that it will crumble under the weight of a gay feather.
It is a mistake to think that the person who voted for proposition 8 hates gays. That voter would be nearly as afraid of changing the spelling of the word marriage, let alone its potential makeup. To him, it is not about you and your relationship, rather about him and his whole world.
Is it a rational fear? Of course not. Nor is it okay to legislatively exclude an entire segment of the population from a public benefit on the basis of this fear. And it sure doesn't make a loving gay couple any more married knowing that those silly heteros are just afraid of
Still, it benefits no one to falsely accuse an insecure nation of hate. I really believe that it is a disservice to the gay rights movement to make this a self-fulfilling prophesy.