The campaign against Proposition 8 refused to formally concede Wednesday, saying that there were too many provisional and mail-in ballots to be counted.
In the meantime, gay couples tried to come to terms with what it meant to lose the right to marry.
Susan Allen of Orange, who married her partner, Robin Lambert, on July 11, said she went to the county clerk's office in Santa Ana on Wednesday with the marriage certificate that she had been issued in the summer.
"I said, 'Is this any good?' " Allen said she asked the clerk of the certificate that she had had framed and hung on the wall. The clerk's answer, Allen said, breaking into tears, was that "she was sorry, but she just did not know."
California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown has said the marriages performed between June 17 and Tuesday will remain valid -- but legal experts expect the marriages to be challenged and say there is no clear answer as to what the courts will decide.
The race -- among the nation's most closely watched ballot campaigns as well as its most expensive -- revealed a deep cultural rift in California.
Many Proposition 8 supporters believed that the future of traditional families was at stake, while opponents were fighting for what they considered the fundamental right of gay people to be treated equally under the law.
The exit poll and a county-by-county review of the results show some major divisions.
As a group, voters under 30 opposed Proposition 8. Whites narrowly opposed it, while Latinos favored it by a small margin.
Opponents of a gay marriage ban drew most of their support along the coastal and wine country communities of the state's northern areas. San Francisco voters, for example, opposed Proposition 8 in droves, with 76.5% voting against the initiative. But those margins were not enough to overcome substantial support for a ban in Southern California and the Central Valley.
In a news conference at San Francisco City Hall on Wednesday, Mayor Gavin Newsom said he would not have done anything differently. Newsom set the constitutional amendment in motion four years ago when he began marrying gay couples, leading to the court case that legalized same-sex unions.
Some political figures have criticized Newsom for pushing the issue too fast. But he rejected that idea.
"I don't regret anything," he said. "I don't regret standing up for people."
He added he was "tremendously optimistic" that California would someday reverse itself on same-sex marriage.
For some voters Tuesday, the decision was not easy.
Jeffrey Jackson of Lynwood said he struggled with how he would vote on Proposition 8. On the one hand, as a black man casting his ballot for Obama, he said he had a deep and personal reverence for civil rights. On the other, he is a Pentecostal Christian.
In the end, it was that religious faith that guided his decision. "It's straight biblical," said Jackson, 46. "It's just not right."