Here's what I don't get about California and the recent Proposition 8 vote: Why all the commotion over yet another passage of yet another marriage amendment?

This was the 30th time a state has placed either a constitutional amendment proposal or its equivalent on its ballot, and the 30th time the amendment has passed.

Thirty straight wins is formidable. It's downright Globetrotter-esque. The New England Patriots didn't even go 30-0.

In twenty-nine of those statewide votes, nobody threw a tantrum.

Granted, early polls predicted California would be the first state to buck the trend, and it did come fairly close with just a 52 percent passage, which tied South Dakota for the narrowest margin of victory among the 30 votes.

But in the end, half a million more Californians voted for the amendment that defines marriage as only between a man and a woman than voted against it. The final tally was 5,387,939 to 4,883,460.

Statistics intrigue the old sports writer in me, and I find the numbers that make up the 30-time winning streak very intriguing.

The great marriage election debate, and the streak, began with Alaska and Hawaii in 1998, continued with Nebraska in 2000, then Nevada in 2002, followed by 13 more states in 2004 (Montana, Oregon, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Michigan and Utah), another two in 2005 (Kansas and Texas), eight more in 2006 (Virginia, Colorado, Idaho, South Dakota, Wisconsin, Alabama, South Carolina and Tennessee), and finally Florida, Arizona and California in 2008.

In all, 58,911,741 Americans over the past decade have cast votes on the issue.

The overall score is 37,662,846 to 21,248.894.

If it were a football game, you'd change the channel in the third quarter and watch something else.

Some states have passed their amendments by huge margins, led by Mississippi at 86 percent and South Carolina and Tennessee at 81 percent each. Six states came in below 60 percent — California and South Dakota at 52 percent, Arizona and Colorado at 56 percent each and Oregon and Virginia at 57 percent apiece. Most margins of victory have been in the 60s — Utah was at 66 percent, which made us pretty close to normal.

Overall, 64 percent of Americans who have voted on the matter are in favor of defining marriage as a one man-one woman exclusive.

That's more than 11 percentage points higher than the 52.7 percent mandate for Barack Obama.

And no one's protesting in the streets over that one.

But California won't let it go. The whining is enough to make a soccer player envious. Lawyers are headed to court to block the proposition. Others are demanding that the vote go back on the ballot in 2010. Proponents of Prop. 8 are being singled out for abuse by opponents.

Sore losing is having a field day.

Evan Wolfson, a California-based gay-rights lawyer who heads a group called Freedom to Marry, said, "There's something deeply wrong with putting the rights of a minority up to a majority vote. If this were being done to almost any other minority, people would see how un-American this is."

Polygamists of the 19th century might have something to say about that. And a thousand other minorities you could name who have had to fall in step with the majority.

How are you supposed to decide stuff? Rock-paper-scissors? Duel at dawn?

Wolfson sees the amendment(s) in terms of discrimination against gays who want to be married while not seeing that the absence of such marriage amendments would be discrimination against not only those who prefer marriage to be defined between one man and one woman, but against untold numbers of children whose world would be greatly changed as a result.

And that's a minority that can't even vote.

You can't have it both ways. Those voters in favor of the amendments aren't voting against gay rights, they're voting for a marriage tradition as America, and America's children, have long known it.

Voting for it in huge numbers, in fact.

Everyone seems to get that but California.


Lee Benson's column runs Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Please send e-mail to benson@desnews.com and faxes to 801-237-2527.