Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Event: California Proposition #8.


This initiative measure is submitted to the people in accordance with the provisions of Article II, Section 8, of the California Constitution.
This initiative measure expressly amends the California Constitution by adding a section thereto; therefore, new provisions proposed to be added are printed in italic type to indicate that they are new.
SECTION 1. Title
This measure shall be known and may be cited as the "California Marriage Protection Act."
SECTION 2. Section 7.5 is added to Article I of the California Constitution to read:
SEC. 7.5. Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.

This election is not just about the next President.

I will spend the remainder of this week talking about California's Propositon 8; while Obama is currently predicted to beat McCain by 2:1 in the electoral college, polls of Proposition 8 have swung from predicting narrow defeat to narrow success.

Two important things must be said about this bill, and why its passage would be uniquely tragic in the history of gay rights.

First, so far we have observed roughly two tiers of legislation in "definition of marriage" referenda. One tier, including states such as Tennessee, have prohibited same-sex marriage but do not explicitly prohibit a status conferring marriage-like benefits. A second tier, including such as Michigan and Wisconsin, explicitly prohibits both same-sex marriage and the establishment of any status conferring marriage-like benefits.

We have also observed several tiers of legislation and judicial precedent favoring civil unions and marriage for gays. California, Massachusetts and, as of this week, Connecticut all permit same-sex marriage. New York does not permit same-sex marriage, but recognizes same-sex marriages performed out of state. New Jersey and Hawaii do not recognize same-sex marriage at all, but by court mandates the provision of a status with marriage-like benefits.

These pro- and con- tiers not only determine where marriages are performed but where they are recognized.

California is only the second state to recognize same-sex marriage, and with a population of well over 30 million, is the most populous state by a huge margin and in the last several months an estimated 11,000 same-sex marriages have been performed there. Considering the population sum of states in which same-sex marriage is 1) permitted and 2) recognized, roughly 25% of the U.S. population is represented. Passage of this bill would almost halve this number.

Second, the proposition would be almost impossible to overturn. This is evident by the history of this debate in California. Proposition 22 passed in 2000 strictly defined marriage as only existing between a man and a woman. Following San Francisco mayor Gavin Newson's decision to permit same sex marriages, almost 4,000 marriages were annulled by the California Supreme Court in accordance with Proposition 22. This is ostensibly why Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed legislative attempts to validate same sex marriage. He claimed to want the matter settled in the courts. This past May, the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 22 as a violation of equal protection as defined by the state constitution. Ergo, same-sex marriage is currently legal in California.

Proposition 8 raises the stakes considerably because, unlike Proposition 22, or the legislative initiatives vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger, it changes the constitution itself. With all branches of state government having set precedent on the issue and the voters having altered the constitution, Proposition 8 would be essentially written in stone. There would be no hope or appeal for gay rights activists or same-sex couples to change the situation until the issue is (finally) settled once-and-for-all by the U.S. Supreme Court.

This is a likely inevitability...

but it could take decades to get there.

IN SHORT, one of the most socially progressive states in the nation has extended same-sex marriage benefits and recognizes same-sex marriage among its 36 million citizens. Proposition 8, which is ahead in the most recent poll by 5%, would counteract all of these advances, and make further progress all but impossible for many years to come.

I KNOW that you want Obama to win. I do too. But if you are planning to donate, and really want to get some mileage out of your contribution, your help is probably needed even more HERE.


I will be writing about this issue for the rest of the week, and have invited several qualified friends to comment on this issue. If you have any thoughts or suggestions, feel free to share them.

Please consider a small donation.

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