Thursday, May 15, 2008


Gay Marriage and California

California's Supreme Court in a 4-3 decision has decided a ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional. Prior to the decision, California had some of the strongest domestic partnership laws in the nation. Although there are some financial benefits from the court deciding in favor of marriage and not partnership, the true benefit is the word "marriage".

I don't want undersell the importance of the word. It signals equality in the relationship between two men or women or other and that of people of opposite sexes. At one point, blacks and whites were not able to marry... and I wouldn't dare call a long term legal relationship between interracial couples something other than marriage.

If only the argument in favor of rights was so simple.

The fact is that in my mind the most important part of legal recognition of same sex couples are the financial benefits. It is very easy for someone in my position on my perch to argue some sort of a philosophical argument about the merits of equality wording. Yet, despite the stereotype of gay couples being wealthy and urbanites, most are regular Americans.

The question to me becomes whether decisions like the one made by the California Supreme Court does delay the implementation of domestic partnerships in states that are not friendly to gay marriage. On another level, does the court's decision actually delay equality in power AND word (in other word gay marriage) in other states.

It is important not to understate the power of those who oppose gay marriage. By deciding in favor of marriage equality, the California Supreme Court will likely antagonize those opposed to gay rights. They are going to be that much more opposed to not only marriage but also domestic partnership of any type. After the Massachusetts Supreme Court overturned a ban on gay marriage in Goodridge v. Dep. of Pub. Health, a wave of anti-gay marriage and partnership amendments appeared on ballots across the nation. Every single one passed.

I have little doubt that the California Supreme Court's decision will not be overturned by the people if a constitutional amendment is placed on the ballot. I don't have doubt in the people of California. My doubt is in the voters and politicians of other less friendly gay states.

So while I understand the excitement throughout the lefty blogosphere from today's decision, I also think its important to think about the consequences.

If you do so and still feel the decision was good for the cause, then I can understand. If not, I understand.

Personally? I don't have a darn clue.

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