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California Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 8

California Supreme Court Upholds Proposition 8

Proposition 8, the ballot measure brought by anti gay-marriage campaigners to block gay marriages in California, has been upheld by the Supreme Court by a vote of 6-1. This will be a disappointment to many gay rights advocates, but not a surprise as the Supreme Court were open about their opinions as to the validity of Proposition 8 when the measure was first challenged.

The Background to Proposition 8
Proposition 8 was a ballot initiative brought by anti gay-marriage campaigners in California, 2008, who thought the Supreme Court’s decision that offer gay marriages had overstepped its bounds (they overturned Proposition 22 in May which had previously defined LGBTs out of marriage). The campaigners, backed heavily by the Mormon church, petitioned for a public vote on the idea of redefining marriage once again as being solely between a man and a woman. On the November 4th 2008 ballot and state-wide election the public voted and with a majority of 52.5% Proposition 8 was passed. This was not without some controversy however.

The main article of contention was if Proposition 8 was invalid due to the fact that it constituted a revision to the Constitution rather than an amendment. If this was true Proposition 8 would have required Legislature’s approval which it did not have. Others argued this was simply not the case and a misinterpretation of the system (see below). This, as well as two other arguments, were subsequently brought in front of the Supreme Court after the Court agreed to hear testimony on the Proposition 8 case in March, 2009. They were also asked to suspend Proposition 8′s effect until the case was heard and ruled on. This was denied.

The other two main areas of contention were that, if Proposition 8 was upheld, what would be the fate of the 18,000 “gay marriages” already carried out before the ballot measure? Lastly, did Proposition 8 effectively breach the separation of powers doctrine as prescribed by California’s Constitution? To read the briefings on the case, please go here to the California Supreme Court’s records on the Proposition 8 legal history.

During the oral arguments the Justices heard from Kenneth Star, arguing on the side of Proposition 8 who, during his animated speeches, argued convincingly that Proposition 8 did not extend itself further than an amendment; the clause of freedom to marry between same-sex partners was defined away in the same process that rights are normally afforded citizens. Just because the system usually works the other way didn’t mandate that it always had to.

The Justices seemed convinced by this argument and rejected the notion made by Lambda Legal’s rep. Shannon Mintor (asking to delete Proposition 8) that because the court had rejected Proposition 22 by overturning it, that they had to then overturn Proposition 8 to be consistent.

They were also unimpressed with Prop. 8 proponent Starr when he asserted that Proposition 8 had to apply retroactively and nullify marriages carried out between the time the Supreme Court ruled to o.k. same-sex marriage and the November ballot measure that overthrew it. The Justices pointed out that the wording of Proposition 8 did not go that far. In fact, it “changed” the definition, implying that the measure could only prevent future gay marriages for as long as Proposition 8 was upheld by the people.

Today’s decision does offer one glimmer of a silver lining, in that the Supreme Court has decided that those 18,000 or so marriages would be allowed to remain lawful, with the court citing that, at the time they were carried out, gay marriages were legalized and so should be upheld.

Even before the Supreme Court’s decision was announced, pro Prop. 8 activists were decrying the Justices should they decide to overturn Proposition 8 they would be recalled. A group going by the name of the American Civil Responsibilities Union have stated that they must act against “biased, dictatorial appointed judged who ignore the will of the people” stirring the embers of the controversy that occurred when Judges voted to end the death penalty quite a few decades ago.

Proposition 8: What Happens Now?
A series of events have been organized to show support for Marriage Equality throughout America. Go to Marriage Equality USA to find out if an event is happening near you, and download flyers and materials to continue to show your support for same-sex couples wanting the right to marry.

On a political front, the wheels are already in motion for taking Proposition 8 to the 2012 ballot so that California residents can again have their say. Don’t sit back though, sign this Care2 petition to call for a repeal on Proposition 8 now.

Do you want to take even more action right now? Sign this Care2 petition that asks President Obama to uphold his promise and overturn the Defense of Marriages Act so that gay marriages can be recognized federally. This will be a huge gain for gay rights, and if Proposition 8 has taught us anything, it’s that complacency can not be allowed to creep in to our hearts.

Lastly, Proposition 8 has also fuelled debate as to whether a separation of religion and state is needed to ensure gay rights and true civil liberties. Proponents argue that personal religious beliefs should not be enshrined in law, as in this case where the definition of marriage is defined as one man and one woman. Off the back of the Proposition 8 decision, I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

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Photo used under the Creative Commons Attribution License, with thanks to M.V. Jantezen.

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6:58AM PDT on Jun 4, 2009

"The US is, & has been for a long time, marching at the back of the parade of democratic, progressive nations, all the while claiming to be the leader of the democratic free world."

Above article states:
"...with a majority of 52.5% Proposition 8 was passed"

That's Democracy in action!

But it's ok if they're wanting to take away the right to bear arms [sarcasm]

This is why our founders chose a REPUBLIC that limits the government and restrains the majority, thereby leaving the people free from tyranny and oppression from the government, and protected from majority rule (mob rule/51% over 49%)... or in this case about 53% over 47%.

This argument/issue probably wouldn't exist if Government wouldn't have started "favoring" married couples. If you're married (in the eyes of the law) then you get "benefits" (tax breaks, benefits after death, etc.). This wouldn't be the case if we had held a strict interpretation of the constitution where the term "general welfare" means General as in "non-specific"... the Constitution and powers granted to the federal government were not to favor special interest groups or particular classes of people. There were to be no privileged individuals or groups in society. Neither minorities nor the majority was to be favored. Rather, the Constitution would promote the “general welfare” by ensuring a free society.

6:52AM PDT on Jun 4, 2009

"Marriage is historically a religious covenant between a man and a woman..."

Everything was "religious" as the churches were the government and they too became corrupted and lost their way. A covenant in the bible is an agreement and in God's eyes once you have sex you're married (you have become one flesh). What made certain covenants and marriages special was that they were sanctified... made Holy by the approval of God. That is why marriages in the church or performed by "Holy" men shouldn't be forced by the government.

However, just because a marriage is performed by a supposedly Holy person in a supposedly Holy place doesn't make a marriage sanctified, only God can make something Holy.

6:54PM PDT on Jun 1, 2009

Ok
Lets break out the sex Police

California Law states NO Fake Orgasms
It’s illegal to have oral sex
It’s illegal to kiss a woman if you have a moustache
It’s illegal for dogs to “get it on” within 500 yards of a church.
It’s illegal for you to be alone with your secretary in the same room
In Bakersfield, Calif., if you're going to have sex with Satan, you've gotta use a condom.

Laws are supposed to protects us, but when the government decides to get in our pants and bedrooms, some crazy stuff goes down!

6:30PM PDT on Jun 1, 2009

Bob C you stated
When you assert that marriage is only a legal contract and that same sex marriage is the same as opposite sex marriage which more often than not results in the birth of a child because it is a union of both sexes of the Human Race and not just a union of one of the sexes of the Human Race then you are diminishing the value of opposite sex marriage.

So my marriage and that of my friend (who got married Fri) have diminished the value of hetero marriages
we both are female and we both married males
BUT THERE WILL BE NO KIDS EVER. it is physically
IMPOSSIBLE for either of us. no miracle will step in and grant us children born of our wombs.
and I know lots of hetero marriages where they don't want kids period.
do they diminishing the value of opposite sex marriage?

11:30AM PDT on May 31, 2009

I don't believe this vote is because people want to take away human rights. They just don't want it to be a part of marriage. Under federalism marital rights for gays will still be incomplete. Why not create full and equal civil unions which will allow for all the same rights and not require religious support. Marriage is historically a religious covenant between a man and a woman, which is why religious people do not support gay marriage.

7:37AM PDT on May 31, 2009

Just another reason we are grateful to now be living in wonderful, tolerant, progressive Spain where, as ex-USAmericans, we have full & equal rights & are legally married, thanks to our wonderful Socialist President Zapatero, the Socialist majority in our parliament & over 80% of the Spanish people! Viva Espana!

Supreme courts are supposed to be the last protection for minorities from the prejudices of the majority in the US, but have not been very good at that. Remember it was the US Supreme Court in the 1980's that ruled that gay & lesbian people were the only US citizens who did not have the right to privacy or protection from unlawful police search & seizure in their own homes! Yeah. The promise of USAmerica is still just that for millions of people. The reality of USAmerica & its corruption, Robber Baron Capitalism, corporate-owned "news" media as well as politicians etc. can no longer be denied. This abomination of justice in California that contradicts the Constitution, Bill of Rights & all the US has claimed to uphold (but blatantly never has) is just the latest in a centuries long string of such hypocrisies.

The US is, & has been for a long time, marching at the back of the parade of democratic, progressive nations, all the while claiming to be the leader of the democratic free world. The whole world is laughing at goofy Uncle Sam. And you wonder why no one takes him seriously?

And there goes the California myth!

8:58AM PDT on May 30, 2009

It would have been simpler if they called it a civil union, instead of marriage.

mark

10:58PM PDT on May 29, 2009

With all of this coverage I'd expect that petitions for equal rights would have a signature boom. So far I have yet to see it and am slightly disappointed. Please take into consideration the following petition:

http://www.thepetitionsite.com/1/give-back-honor-to-those-with-an-quotunder-honorable-conditionsquot-discharge

And keep in mind that with all the arguing back and forth on the comments section of these stories all the comments won't amount to much if no one is actually doing something like signing petitions and protesting no matter what side of the fence your on.

5:52PM PDT on May 29, 2009

M.C.,

You responded to my post by saying that marriage is
not a financial contract, but a legal contract.

Please tell that to Helen T. not me because she is the one who said that "In the eyes of the law, marriage is a financial contract, no more."

You assert that nobody is diminishing the value of hetero marriage - it can continue to be valued by those who are in one.

When someone asserts that marriage is nothing more than a financial contract or a legal contract between two consenting adults then they are diminishing the value of marriage.

You assert that there is no reason why gay and straight marriage can't be the same thing in law, yet different in the eyes of every individual, given their personal values.

When you assert that marriage is only a legal contract and that same sex marriage is the same as opposite sex marriage which more often than not results in the birth of a child because it is a union of both sexes of the Human Race and not just a union of one of the sexes of the Human Race then you are diminishing the value of opposite sex marriage.

The SCOTUS has never ruled that two people of the same sex have a civil or constitutional right to marry each other. Until it does it is just an unsupported assertion on your part that two people of the same sex have a civil or constitutional right to marry each other.

4:40PM PDT on May 29, 2009

Bob C., you state,

"By asserting that marriage is just a financial contract you have diminished the value of marriage to those people who think marriage is more than just a financial contract between two consenting adults."

1. Not a financial contract, but a legal contract.
2. Nobody is diminishing the value of hetero marriage - it can continue to be valued by those who are in one.
3. There is no reason why gay and straight marriage can't be the same thing in law, yet different in the eyes of every individual, given their personal values. Both you and I have the priviledge to get a license drive a car, maybe you value it, and I don't (I'd rather ride a bike, let's say) - doesn't mean I should take your right away, does it?

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