A beautiful day

15
May
2008

The California Supreme Court wisely overturned the ban on same sex marriage in the state today. While this doesn’t give gay people all of the federal rights of marriage (which are arguably more significant) it is an important step towards that goal and a stunning affirmation of gay equality and human dignity from my adoptive state.

You know, even though I have been following these things for years in a fairly logical and detached way, I can’t help but get a little choked up as I watch the walls of official discrimination fall.

One potential cloud on the horizon is that hate groups are organizing a ballot initiative to modify to the California constitution to define marriage as only between one man and one woman, thus discriminating against same sex couples. I hope that we have reached a tipping point where this initiative will fail, but there is a lot of organizing work to do before the November election.

One thought on “A beautiful day

  1. Here’s the conclusion of the majority decision affirming the right of gay couples to marry:

    [T]he exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children. As discussed above, because of the long and celebrated history of the term “marriage” and the widespread understanding that this word describes a family relationship unreservedly sanctioned by the community, the statutory provisions that continue to limit access to this designation exclusively to opposite-sex couples — while providing only a novel, alternative institution for same-sex couples — likely will be viewed as an official statement that the family relationship of same-sex couples is not of comparable stature or equal dignity to the family relationship of opposite-sex couples.

    Furthermore, because of the historic disparagement of gay persons, the retention of a distinction in nomenclature by which the term “marriage” is withheld only from the family relationship of same-sex couples is all the more likely to cause the new parallel institution that has been established for same-sex couples to be considered a mark of second-class citizenship.

    Finally, in addition to the potential harm flowing from the lesser stature that is likely to be afforded to the family relationships of same-sex couples by designating them domestic partnerships, there exists a substantial risk that a judicial decision upholding the differential treatment of opposite-sex and same-sex couples would be understood as validating a more general proposition that our state by now has repudiated: that it is permissible, under the law, for society to treat gay individuals and same-sex couples differently from, and less favorably than, heterosexual individuals and opposite-sex couples.

    In light of all of these circumstances, we conclude that retention of the traditional definition of marriage does not constitute a state interest sufficiently compelling, under the strict scrutiny equal protection standard, to justify withholding that status from same-sex couples. Accordingly, insofar as the provisions of sections 300 and 308.5 draw a distinction between opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples and exclude the latter from access to the designation of marriage, we conclude these statutes are unconstitutional.

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