LOS ANGELES, Oct. 27 (Xinhua) -- When voters in California cast their ballots on Nov. 4 for the U.S. presidential election, they will also say yes or no to a proposal against same-sex marriage that was legalized earlier this year through a ruling by the state's Supreme Court.
Although recent polls showed a majority of voters oppose the controversial Proposition 8, which would ban same-sex marriage, political experts said the result is hard to predict because the margin is too close.
A latest poll found that 44 percent of California voters support the measure, which would amend the state Constitution to disallow marriages between gays and lesbians, while 52 percent oppose it.
California's Supreme Court ruled in May that the state constitution's promise of equal protection affords gays and lesbians the same rights to marry as couples, effectively legalizing same-sex marriage.
The ruling overturned an earlier measure passed by voters in 2000, which defined marriage as only between a man and a woman, making California the second state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage after Massachusetts.
After same-sex couples began marrying in June, conservative and religious groups have worked to take the issue to an referendum, managing to put Proposition 8 onto the Nov. 4 ballot. The measure, if passed, would remove the basis for the court's ruling by amending the state constitution.
Even California's first couple were divided on the issue, as the state's first lady Maria Shriver said in an interview that she believes in people's right to choose a partner who they love.
However, her husband, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger said he still stands by his previous statements opposing same-sex marriage.
The battle over the issue has emerged as the most expensive ballot measure campaign in the United States this year, as millions of dollars in donations for both sides came from across the country and even foreign countries.
Observers say that California is largely considered a bellwether over the issue and what happens here could shape the future of same-sex marriage across the United States.
It was reported that at least 64,000 people from all 50 states and more than 20 foreign countries have so far given a total of nearly 60 million U.S. dollars to support or oppose a same-sex marriage ban in California.
Even Silicon Valley giants like Apple and Google are taking risk to make clear their stance on the controversial issue. Apple, now rather a consumer electronics manufacturer than a niche computer maker, announced last week to donate 100,000 dollars to fight the proposed ban on same-sex marriage.
Google earlier said it opposes Proposition 8 but has not given a corporate donation, but company founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin recently donated 40,000 dollars and 100,000 dollars respectively to the campaign in favor of same-sex marriage.
Such unusual political announcements by companies that sell goods and services to consumers could be risky, as they may drive away some potential customers who are against same-sex marriage, marketing and corporate governance experts say.