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Opinion: CA Shouldn't Wait for SCOTUS To Overturn Prop 8

Wednesday, February 08, 2012 - 09:44 AM

Maybe it is a free country, after all.  Slowly, but surely, we march toward that ideal.

Tuesday, The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco on a 2-to-1 vote, upheld a lower federal court ruling, which had declared California’s controversial Proposition 8 ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.  The matter is now expected to travel to the U.S. Supreme Court.  

Proposition 8 was a voter-passed initiative which made it illegal for gays and lesbians to get married. The law also meant that California could not legally recognize same-sex marriages from anywhere else, including Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Canada, Spain, and so on and so forth.

I went to law school at Berkeley and broke into journalism in Los Angeles.  I started my career as a clerk in the California Supreme Court and so was uniquely disappointed, but not surprised, by the opinion of that court, back in 2009, that upheld Prop. 8. Those state court justices were loath to overturn a decision made by a majority (however slim) of voters.

Prop. 8, as you may recall, came about in response to the decision by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome to issue marriage licenses to any couples that applied - gay or straight. Conservatives rallied against that magnanimous gesture, with their mean-spirited response – Prop Hate.

In my humble opinion, the California initiative process is a cop-out. It relieves lawmakers of the responsibility of making the difficult decisions they were sent to Sacramento to make, and it leaves the public holding the bag containing the really tough questions.  But it’s not too late, on Prop 8.  While the courthouse battle continues and is likely to take another several years, perhaps the action of our leaders in New York, where legislators and the governor demonstrated the courage of their convictions can serve as an example for California and the rest of a nation that has yet to step into the 21st Century.  

California has always been a leader on civil rights and liberties - leading the free speech movement in the 1960s; the first state to send two women to the Senate; the world leader on the environment.  But history will show Prop Hate to be an ugly and inconsistent blemish on California's progressive record.

In California, a state in which voters make much of the law through statewide referendum, the legislature has remained silent. It is time for the leaders to speak up. It is time for the people to rise up. It is time for Californians reverse the ugliness of this moment in history. 

California need not wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to tell us what we already know about the rights of citizens in a democracy.  Californians should do the right thing and give all citizens of the Golden State equal rights under the law.

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Comments [2]

Nick from New Jersey

"In my humble opinion, the California initiative process is a cop-out. It relieves lawmakers of the responsibility of making the difficult decisions they were sent to Sacramento to make, and it leaves the public holding the bag containing the really tough questions."
**That isn't opinion, that is fact! State Governments that referendum or initiave Gay Marriage are definately copping cout, big time. Christie is doing it right now. I know that he really doesn't care, and in fact, would probably enjoy the monetary benefit of allowing them to get married, but he is scared that it would be under his name that gay marriage was legalized (past his veto pen). This is the truest definition of a wedge issue. Something that should not warrant a single second of care from lawmakers. The fact that even a single extra dollar is spent on an issue like this is truely horrifying, especially since that money is needed so badly in so many different areas. The time of the Supreme Court is worth its weight in gold, so it is again a disgusting blemish on this country that our Supreme Court may have to hear this case. Just add it to the rest of the blemishes (Endless War, Hyper Surveillance, Destruction of Civil Liberties, And a Pro-Cheap Business Anti Environment Attitude just to name a few). America the Teenager...ewww!


Feb. 09 2012 03:33 PM
listener

"Conservatives rallied against that magnanimous gesture, with their mean-spirited response – Prop Hate".

Didn't many of the same "progressive" Californians who cast their vote for Obama in 2008 also vote against gay marriage? How do ethnic and immigrant communities who favored Prop 8 in California feel about their vote being thrown out by the courts and will it effect their vote in 2012?

Was it not Republicans in the New York State legislature that tipped the balance in favor of gay marriage?

Isn't Obama/Biden still officially opposed to gay marriage and seem to be more concerned about their political power than a civil rights issue?

Sorry but this issue does not fall neatly along partisan lines.

Feb. 08 2012 10:52 AM

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