Today, California became the second state in the country to strike down a same-sex marriage ban and allow gay and lesbian couples to marry (not just be domestic partners). Currently, lesbian and gay couples may legally marry in Massachusetts and in Canada, Spain, the Netherlands, Belgium, and South Africa.
The decision is in response to lawsuits brought against the state by nine couples and various civil rights groups after the San Francisco same-sex marriages of 2000 were struck down. It also overturns a ban on same-sex marriage that passed in 2000 as a voter initiative.
In the 4-3 decision the court ruled: “In light of the fundamental nature of the substantive rights embodied in the right to marry — and their central importance to an individual’s opportunity to live a happy, meaningful, and satisfying life as a full member of society — the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all individuals and couples, without regard to their sexual orientation.”
I knew this case was up before the California Supreme Court, but I honestly was too nervous about the outcome to pay too much attention to it. Since it has only passed by one vote, I may have been correct in my apprehension. I am beyond thrilled that it passed…but I’m also sad that it was such a close vote. I just don’t understand how people can be so narrow-minded and cruel about something that does not directly affect them.
Ok – I’m gonna rant for a minute. Fair warning.
If I want to marry the person I love and am committed to, why should anyone but the two of us care? How does my getting married to another woman affect the heterosexual couple next door? How can it possibly do any harm to the Christian conservative right-wing nut jobs down the street? It can’t because it’s none of their business. Just like their marriage is none of my business.
The legal status that goes with marriage (ie. tax status, health benefits, discrimination laws) have nothing to do with religious beliefs. A straight couple can go down to the courthouse, get married by a judge in front of a stranger and receive the same rights and benefits from the government as a devoutly religious couple who holds a full ceremony in a place of worship. The religious aspects have nothing to do with the legitimacy of the union under the law.
The ruling continued:
“Furthermore, in contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individual’s sexual orientation — like a person’s race or gender — does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.” (Emphasis mine)
Of course, some people are not too happy about this ruling. There is a plan underway to try and get enough signatures to force a voter initiative on the September ballot to overturn the ruling.
My favorite quote from the opposition (in the CNN article linked above) is this one:
"So-called 'same-sex' marriage is counterfeit marriage. Marriage is, and has always been, between a man and a woman,” said Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues for the group Concerned Women for America, in a written statement. “We know that it's in the best interest of children to be raised with a mother and a father. To use children as guinea pigs in radical San Francisco-style social experimentation is deplorable."
What is a San Francisco-style social experiment anyway? Does it have to take place on a street car like the Rice-A-Roni commercials? (ding, ding!) Can it be radical if it occurs outside the city limits? Shouldn’t it really be a radical Massachusetts style social experiment since they’ve had legal same-sex marriages for years? Maybe that’s not radical enough since the state seems to be doing just fine and has not collapsed into anarchy and degradation. Hmmm..
I did enjoy this little written statement from the govenator:
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger - "I respect the Court's decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling."
There’s a lot of things Arnold has done in office that I disagree with, but I hope he really intends to stand behind this statement. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
So, now that California has gone down this path I wonder what effect it will have on the rest of the country. Iowa’s Supreme Court is about to hear a similar case later this year. I suppose we shall just have to wait and see.