Democracy Soup

Making sense out of the world of politics

CA Supreme Court Ruling on Prop 8 Allows for Justice Down the Road

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Originally published on on Tue, 05/26/2009 – 2:22pm

The decision was expected to go the way it did. Legal issues of constitutionality were at stake, whether or not a constitutional revision was at stake, and whether or not marriage was an inalienable right. The human factor was taken out of the equation — the ruling didn’t take into account the extensive rally in San Francisco this morning, gathering to await the decision. The interest in this particular ruling was enough to make it difficult to reach the official Web site that displayed the verdict.

The California Supreme Court in a 6-1 decision upheld Proposition 8 in a much-anticipated decision this morning. The court ruled that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who got married before the measure went into effect remain married.

Those who felt that Proposition 8 was the right thing to do will find plenty to celebrate in California today. The ruling said that stripping rights away from citizens could be done by a majority vote at the polls. But this group lost out on its key provision — the sentence that Proposition 8 introduced into the California state constitution — “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”

Oh, the sentence is in the state constitution, and the court kept it in there with this decision. But there are 18,000 couples in the state who get to keep that sentence from ever being completely valid.

And what those people may find out is that those same rights can be placed back into law by a simple majority vote at the polls, which would sharply add on to the 18,000 couples left standing.

Equality California is already vowing to restore marriage via the Ballot Box in 2010.

Those who were against Proposition 8 were understandably angry and sad at today’s court ruling. They strongly disagree with the court’s findings that as Justice Ronald M. George, writing for the majority, put it that Proposition 8 did “not entirely repeal or abrogate” same-sex couples’ right to privacy and due process or the “constitutional right of same-sex couples to ‘choose one’s life partner and enter with that person into a committed, officially recognized, and protected family relationship.’

As for whether rights can be voted away, the court felt marriage wasn’t a sufficient enough right.

The court’s only Democratic appointee, Justice Carlos R. Moreno, said in the lone dissent, that “It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority.”

The 6-1 decision could be seen as a defeat for gay marriage. But the legal nuances aren’t even close to how things were 5, 10, 20, or 30 years ago. The snowball is headed down the mountain. Decisions such as this are more like trees that can slow down the momentum, but can’t stop it.

We have seen legislators and courts in a strictly neutral situation decide that equality did mean allowing for gay marriage. California’s setup is a little unusual, yet the voters of that state know full well that if they pass a law nullifying the impact of Proposition 8, the law will be completely upheld by this same Supreme Court. This may not be the progress that some want right this second, but it is progress toward a more equal union.

PDF of the CA Supreme Court’s decision


Written by democracysoup

May 26, 2009 at 2:22 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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