Friday, May 16, 2008

And Now, California?

In a little display of log rolling, I suggest looking at a great wrap-up of yesterday's marriage-equality decision by the California Supreme Court over at Live, Love and Learn. John has collected and displays the likely options.

What John did not and none of us can yet predict is what California voters might do in November with a DOMA-style anti-marriage equality amendment to the state constitution. Consider:
  • Eight years ago, they passed by ballot initiative a Family Code statute that changed the definition of marriage from a civil contract for a personal relationship to "...a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties capable of making that contract is necessary."
  • Yesterday's state high court decision, with its other findings, invalidated that statute section.
  • Same-sex marriages, by that ruling, are to start in 30 days. The court ordered implementation.
Assuming that the amendment goes to ballot, as it appears, voters will face:
  • Changed tenor, nationwide as well as locally, with one SSM state, several civil-union ones, and more likely.
  • The evidence is strong that nothing bad and many things good come of marriage equality.
  • Gay couples are increasingly out, humanizing the issue. Increasing numbers of California as well as national politicians would like to modify or repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act.
  • On both coasts, anti-gay and anti-marriage equality groups are as loud as ever but definitely seem to have decreased in number and influence.
  • Over four months of legal marriages of homosexual couples by the vote.
The be still, my heart, queers want to marry folk point to the 61.4% victory of Proposition 22. That was eight years ago and it was only a Family Code wording phrase replacement. Not only has much changed in that time, but Americans even on the left coast tend to view constitutional amendments with a more critical eye.

This amendment proposal could well fail. That would likely be the last gasp of the no-no, not in my state people.

Then the messy alternative is perhaps thousands of marriages and an approved amendment. The anti forces have fast forwarded to annulment of any such marriages and the hand of theocracy firmly on the tiller steering to the Island of the Straights. It's not that clean.

First the highest court in the state has ruled that the specifics and concepts of limiting marriage to different-gender couples are invalid. They would be the same body to take up a request to invalidate the amendment as likewise unconstitutional.

As John points out, if this happens, the anti people will almost certainly appeal into federal courts. There, they are likely to find out that marriage regulations are still state matters.

In the chance at the U.S. Supreme Court is feeling frisky and willing to walk blindfolded into this mine field, we can't know what would happen. Meanwhile, we have to let it play out, while the California and national forces on both sides fight over the amendment. Also, I'll look for the insights from the best commentators and deal with those here.

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1 comment:

John Hosty-Grinnell said...

Bigots right now are running the length of the chicken pen frantic about what to do.

On one hand they can't leave the victory in California unchallenged. On the other hand they are begining to understand that the more attention they give our cause the more it expledites our liberation.

I think a federal lawsuit, if picked up by the United States Supreme Court would seem a likely victory if it hit after a democratic win in the elections. Even though our candidates hardly stood up for equality the air will be different.

I think the winds have turned. As I look at where our advances in the past few years have taken us I see a more rapid growth than I would have expected.

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