We Forgive You, California

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Today's 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that California's Proposition 8, the gay marriage ban, is unconstitutional "all but ensures" (according to The New York Times) that the case will go the Supreme Court, meaning it's leaving California and going national. All California judicial authority has said no to this thing, so now it's getting kicked upstairs to management. Which means at least one thing: We can finally forgive California.

Oh wasn't it so hard being mad at California for the past four years? Sure we'd been mad at them before — for Reagan, for Audrina Patridge — but the 2008 Prop 8 vote was what sullied an otherwise exciting election, with Barack Obama beating that creepy old Scooby Doo villain and everything gleaming with hope. There were all the coastal liberals, all happy and streaming into the streets, and then the Prop 8 results came in and the victory suddenly tasted a little sour. And it was all California's fault! The supposed hippie mecca, supposed bastion of Left Coast progressivism, joined the ranks of Tennessee and Mississippi. It was dispiriting, but it was also confusing. 

Meaning, no longer could we make broad, sweeping generalizations about California being a coastal, liberal place. Well, it's still coastal, obviously, until the Big One comes and the whole state sinks into the sea, but could we just conveniently lump it in with the liberal enclaves like Taxachusetts anymore? No, we could not. Every time we tried, someone would say "Uh, hello, remember Prop 8??" and our poorly thought-out political rant over dinner would be ruined, our armchair punditry became suddenly difficult, our social vocabulary lost a few handy labels. Damn you Prop 8, and curse you California for letting it happen. How were we to make uninformed political predictions when you so callously acted against type like that?

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It's been a grueling four years, having California exist in this strange middle place, this realm of ambiguous ambivalence. Could California's (not so-)sudden evidence of political complexity and contradiction perhaps have taught us a lesson about how the American sociopolitical landscape is not solely a war between dueling monoliths? Probably, but that sounds like a lot of work.

Instead we just got mad at California and then, eventually, grew to simply ignore it, tossed it into the bin of confusion next to New Hampshire and Hawaii. No longer a place of easy definitions, California was of no use to us in these 140-character times. But now, the final mea culpa. You did us wrong, California, but you have atoned.

Oh have you atoned! This decision is the truest of San Francisco treats! Because it not only takes this important fight to the top of the food chain, but it finally moves the whole mess far enough away from California that we can put the knotty, frustrating past behind us and bring it back into the fold. Welcome! All your old friends are here, plus some new ones, like Iowa and New York. Sure they did it differently, the legislative way [Correction: Oops, just New York did it legislatively], and yes the case against Prop 8 isn't even exactly settled yet, but dramatically shipping the matter off to Washington D.C. at least finally gives us permission to safely categorize you again. Welcome back to the Left! Don't let us down again.

Though, yikes. Hm. That's pretty, pretty awful... But wait, it was just Orange County? OK, you're allowed the O.C. But nothing else! You hear us? 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.