Congratulations, America. For the first time in eight years, you have chosen the right candidate. The world applauds you for stepping up in a monumental decision. While it will undoubtedly be a hugely difficult task, President-elect Barack Obama will be able to pick up the pieces the U.S. has been broken into thanks to George W. Bush.

But California… We are disappointed in you. California is supposed to be the social leader of the union. The Golden State should have the most progressive laws and should be on the forefront of granting everyone equal rights. But now, we are embarrassed to call ourselves Californians, to be lumped with such an ignorant, hypocritical crowd. Proposition 8 is overt discrimination and will take civil liberties away from people very deserving of them.

And apparently, as Californians, we are OK with that.

We thought this was the time for a new America. Obama ran on this precise platform of change. When we voted him into office yesterday, we all agreed that we wanted to ditch the status quo.

But Prop 8 is not the right kind of change. Denying an entire group the right to marriage — a basic step in the pursuit of happiness — will set us back years. Civil rights leaders worked tirelessly to eliminate discrimination from the constitution. Prop 8 has undone that.

Our children will ask us incredulously if people ever actually thought gay marriages were any less legitimate than straight marriages. Today we wonder how anybody could have believed that blacks were less deserving of equal rights than whites. In 40 years, people will wonder why anybody thought gay couples would be unworthy of the right to marry.

While California was the most disappointing state to have restrictions on gay couples on the ballot, it was not alone. Florida — which officially went for Obama — had a similar proposition to vote on. Its ban on gay marriage passed with a comfortable two-thirds of voters in favor. In Arizona, 56 percent of voters filled in the bubble that said marriage is only between a man and a woman.

The worst of the results may be in Arkansas, which in an attempt to ban gay couples from adopting children actually restricted any “sexual partners” not in a straight marriage from adopting a child or becoming foster parents. This not only hurts couples trying to adopt, but keeps children unnecessarily barred from potentially loving homes.

While the decisions of voters in Florida, Arizona and Arkansas are reprehensible and regrettable, your decision to ban gay marriage is almost unforgivable, California.

But we haven’t given up on you, California. Almost half of you voted to protect marriage rights for all couples. We hope that, given the opportunity to vote on it again, even more of you would come forward to protect equality for all.