Its as if a lite went off in someone's head and all the sudden the claim was made.
I've found myself wondering why this issue seems to be so popular all-of-a-sudden--perhaps this is part of it. I find myself quite biased, though, having come out and gotten interested in the whole thing only recently, so I can't speculate very effectively on reasons for increased general interest.
You will not see a federal civil union either. Marriage simply is not within the powers of the federal government.
I'm sorry (since I like this conversation), but this is just not true, depending on precisely what you meant. Marrying people is perhaps not within the powers of the federal government, but one of DOMA's main aims is to invalidate same-sex marriages for federal purposes, regardless of their recognition by state(s). To give one example, even a married lesbian couple from Massachusetts cannot file a joint federal tax return. There are many, many more. That said, I misspoke. By the phrase "federal civil unions", I just meant federal recognition of civil unions (performed who-knows-where, maybe states, maybe other countries) for the purposes of federal marriage rights and responsibilities.
You have to remember that even in California which is probably the most gay friendly state, the voters supported multiple state wide bans on gay marriage. It took not one, but two state supreme court challenges and a federal challenge to make it legal.
I lived in California during the Prop. 8 campaign. I suspect gay marriage supporters got somewhat complacent--it's California, after all; you'd just expect it to be legal. The reality is that California is not nearly as liberal as one might think. Some urban centers, notably San Francisco, are, but it's a huge state. This Prop. 8 voting map is instructive. California is certainly not the most gay friendly state either; Massachusetts might be.
While it doesn't matter much, your summary of same-sex marriage in California is perhaps misleading. Same-sex marriage is not currently legal in California. It was legal for a while in 2008 in the time between the State Supreme Court overturning Prop. 22 (a law) and the passage of Prop. 8 (a constitutional amendment). It should be noted that Prop. 8 barely passed--52% to 48%--and that federal constitutional challenges based on it are currently making their ways through the courts. I suspect that if it weren't for the potential Supreme Court rulings, a repeal of Prop. 8 would already have passed, considering it barely passed even before the recent general surge in same-sex marriage support. A federal judge and a three-judge panel of the relevant appellate court have both found it unconstitutional and those rulings are stayed until review by the Supreme Court. Either SCOTUS will refuse to hear the case next term in which case gay marriage will again be legal in California--this seems highly unlikely to me--or SCOTUS will hear it and rule, possibly at a national level depending on legal specifics--and if the lower courts are any indication, they will rule for gay marriage.
Next Supreme Court term will be very important for gay marriage in general. DOMA and Prop. 8 challenges will likely be heard and ruled upon. I suspect (hope) 2013 will be the "Brown v. Board of Education"-year for gay marriage.