After weeks of prayer and intense campaigning on both sides, Californians passed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The measure overturns the state Supreme Court decision in May that legalized gay marriage.
Supporters of Proposition 8 had claimed victory Tuesday night as numbers played out in their favor. But opponents said it was too soon to make the call as many votes remained uncounted.
As of Wednesday morning, however, Prop 8 passed 52 percent to 47.9 percent. Although with nearly 96 percent of the votes tallied, there are absentee and provisional ballots still uncounted, reports indicate the 5 percent margin will be difficult to overcome, according to The Mercury News.
"Just over a month ago, we were behind in the polls, and things did not look good for traditional marriage," said Jim Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church in San Diego. "Then we began our 40 days of prayer and fasting, and began hosting rallies that were simulcast to churches all over the state, and we began to see the tide turn. Tonight, we are just grateful for this result, not just as evidence of the people’s decision on marriage, but as evidence of God’s will and plan for marriage and families."
Leading into the polls on Tuesday, a CBS News poll had shown the "Yes on 8" campaign leading only by a 48-45 percent margin and opponents had out-raised the amendment supporters in a last-minute fundraising blitz in Hollywood.
Christians and traditional marriage supporters, however, collected their spiritual strength and organized massive prayer rallies and 40-day campaigns in an effort to defend marriage as between one man and one woman. They also raised an impressive $40 million and the support of over 100,000 volunteers to the traditional marriage cause.
According to Ron Prentice, chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, the "Yes on 8" campaign was the "single largest, most powerful grassroots movement in the history of American ballot initiative campaigns."
"This is a great day for marriage," said Prentice. "The people of California stood up for traditional marriage and reclaimed this great institution. We are gratified that voters chose to protect traditional marriage and to enshrine its importance in the state constitution. We trust that this decision will be respected by all Californians."
Thousands of same-sex couples married since the May ruling. Whether their unions are still valid will be resolved in court, legal experts say.
One lesbian couple, who was the first to be married in Los Angeles County, plans to announce a lawsuit arguing that the proposition is unconstitutional, according to The Mercury News.
While similar marriage amendments were being voted on in Arizona and Florida, California drew wide attention as many believed it would set a precedent for other states.
With Tuesday's win, Christians are optimistic.
"We were able to draw a line in the sand on this issue, and we hope this helps to protect the definition of marriage across the nation," said Garlow. "Personal and religious freedoms were at stake, as well as our children’s education, and we are grateful for all the prayers, volunteers and financial support from those who stood with us from outside the state of California."