First, this is not a ruling about whether marriage equality is correct or just. This is a ruling about whether the California Constitution allows a measure like Proposition 8 to be voted into the Constitution by the people. Even if there is some overriding federal claim that marriage equality is guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution, it was not raised by the parties here. Second, we have spent the past decade decrying those who demean the legitimacy of court decisions by attacking them. It would turn that principled stand on its head to say that this court, which previously held that marriage equality was guaranteed by the California Constitution, is somehow responsible in today’s decision for “denying an entire group of people our civil rights.” Third, and most simply, this is not the righteous anger exhibited this past fall.
The anti-gay bigots said before the decision that they wanted Prop 8 upheld and they weren't concerned about the 18K gay couples who wed while same-sex marriage was briefly legal in CA. That exposes their fundamental dishonesty. If they believe, as they claimed during the campaign, that married same-sex couples are a threat to the family, a threat to children, an invitation to hurricanes and earthquakes and wildfires, and that the existence of married gay couples somehow requires homosexuality to be taught in schools, how can they be indifferent to 18K married gay couples rattling around the state? Won't all those bad things still happen?
...the ongoing existence of these marriages, with no demonstrable harm being caused by their existence, will call into question, if not outright destroy, the bigots' argument for why the state has an interest in banning gays from getting married.
The 6-1 split is significant. The previous ruling declaring gay marriage a right under California’s constitution was very narrow. Three of the judges who voted for that decision went the other direction today. They had little choice. California allows constitutional amendments by referenda, and the backers of Proposition 8 followed the law scrupulously in getting it on the ballot.
Even in California there is only one justice willing to strip 7 million voters of their core civil right, expressly guaranteed, to amend their own constitution. I should be grateful, right?
Will the anti-Prop. 8 mob restrain itself? Stay tuned.
I’m overcome by a profound sense of grief. The courts are supposed to be on the side of justice and protection of the rights of minorities. This time, the California Supreme Court admittedly with precedential justification blinked. And I’m reminded again that people get to vote on my rights. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that, or be able to regard these kinds of setbacks as “second-level disappointments.” Well, back to the political process like it, or not.
[T]he California court ruled today that voters can modify constitutional rights in California, so long as they don’t take them away altogether.
(Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty.)