The Gay Marriage Judge

Prop 8 Overturned!!

Judge Vaughn Walker ruled today:
“Because Proposition 8 is unconstitutional under both the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses, the court orders entry of judgment permanently enjoining its enforcement; prohibiting the official defendants from applying or enforcing Proposition 8 and directing the official defendants that all persons under their control or supervision shall not apply or enforce Proposition 8.”

via Towleroad

You Can’t Turn The Lights Off

Saw this over at Towleroad. Andy explains:
Joseph Gordon Levitt’s production company HitRECord produced this short animated clip about new media and getting the word out on the Prop 8 trial in the face of its broadcast ban.

Christian and Andy pointed out that:
[The song is] slightly inaccurate in that it was the Supreme Court and not the state which ultimately foiled plans for the broadcast after bigot Prop 8 supporters filed a petition with Justice Anthony Kennedy.

8: The Mormon Proposition – A Documentary

When and where can I see this? I want tickets.


A new ad from the Courage Campaign:

The CA Supreme Court Justices Did Their Job

I am devastated by today’s California Supreme Court ruling in which the justices upheld Proposition 8. Being newly engaged, I had hoped to be able to get married in my home state. That may not happen anytime soon.

Despite being sickened by Proposition 8 and the discrimination it has enshrined into California’s state constitution, I think the court acted dutifully and interpreted the constitution appropriately. The state constitution, unfortunately, allows for a simple majority to amend said constitution in order to restrict and/or deny the rights of a minority.

Do I think that this is wrong and abhorrent? Yes. Do I wish that it were harder to enshrine hatred and discrimination into the Golden State’s legal foundation? Yes.

However, as it stands, California does not have the strict protections in place against this sort of legalized discrimination that other states and our federal Constitution have. Namely, other states require legislative approval of issues of this nature before they can be put to the voters. The federal Constitution required 2/3 and 3/4 of Congress and state legislatures to pass an amendment. That’s probably why the federal Constitution has only been amended 27 times, while the California constitution has been amended over 500 times.

I recently posted an article via the Economist regarding California’s constitutional crisis. The article mostly deals with budgetary issues and the special election on May 19th as symptoms of a state in crisis. I think Prop 8 can be added to that list of symptoms. And not just because I’m a lefty liberal. If we get a prop on the ballot in 2010 and it re-grants gays the right of marry, I’ll still feel that California is stuck with a terrible problem. We should not be able to so easily bring forth such serious matters to the general populous for a simple majority popular vote. Sometimes there are issues that are just too sensitive and complex to be so easily dealt with at the ballot box.

I like the idea of direct democracy, but everywhere I turn California citizens are fed up. With regards to budget propositions and other issues I constantly hear friends and family say things like: “Why are we voting on this? Why isn’t Sacramento figuring this out? Isn’t this what we pay them to do?” And yet, at this moment this is the democratic process we have in this state.

I for one would love to see a blend of direct democracy and representative democracy that puts a little more weight on the representative side of things, while ensuring transparency and keeping the people’s right to keep a check on legislative corruption. I wonder what that would look like. Thoughts?

Update: I liked what Adam B at DailyKos had to say:

Look: I’m not a scholar of California law, but this (mostly) makes sense to me as a matter of structural analysis: the California Constitution allocates We, The California People large powers of self-governance, and (as opposed to the federal constitution) they have a large and powerful role to play in an ongoing conversation with the courts, the legislature and the Governor in the shape of constitutional governance. Given this structure, the majority goes, it’s not for courts to say what The People shouldn’t do with that power; the problem is the scope of the power itself.

The whole point of having rights safeguarded by a Constitution interpreted by an independent judiciary is that some things are so fundamental that they ought not be left to the caprice of a fleeting majority vote — if the People wants to amend the Constitution (at least, insofar as most of us understand what a “constitution” is supposed to do), it ought to be a more serious and onerous process than a one-day 50%-plus-one vote. One wonders what makes it a constitution if it is so easily amendable. Would the Miranda decision have survived a citizen initiative vote in its wake? Brown v. Board of Education?

No, I don’t like the outcome of this decision one bit. But this conversation — between the legislature, the courts, the executive branch and the People — is far from over, as the California Supreme Court acknowledges. Indeed, the fight to repeal Prop 8 has already begun …

Civil Unions for All Californians

The Sacramento Bee ponders one possible outcome of the Prop 8 hearings. Essentially, the Court could tell the state to get the hell out of the “marriage” business. The states would only confer civil unions on all couples, gay and straight alike. Then, “marriage” would be left to the individual churches to confer upon their parishioners. Sounds good to me!

From the Sac Bee:

Justices on the high court appear hesitant to overturn Proposition 8, while also reluctant to invalidate same-sex marriages performed before it passed, legal observers agreed Friday.

During Thursday’s oral arguments on a trio of lawsuits seeking to overturn the ban, Chin and Chief Justice Ronald George seemed to anticipate the difficulty in reconciling the state constitution’s promise of equality with its commitment to giving voters wide discretion to pass laws.

Chin, who was not part of the court majority that ruled last year to legalize same-sex marriage, twice asked whether the court should direct the state “to employ non-marriage terminology” and instead make only civil unions or domestic partnerships available to all.

Gay-rights lawyers and Pepperdine University law school dean Kenneth Starr, who was representing Proposition 8’s sponsors, agreed that making marriage the province of religious institutions was one way, however unanticipated, around the problem.

More Prop 8 Coverage

John Culhane via Andrew Sullivan:

If I had to guess, I’d say that those married between June and November 4, 2008 will still be married. Going forward, forget it. It’s time to dive back into the political process.

and via the LA Times:

Justice Joyce L. Kennard, usually a strong supporter of gay rights, had voted against accepting the legal challenges that characterized Proposition 8 as an illegal constitutional revision but was willing to hear arguments on whether existing same-sex marriages should remain valid.

Today’s hearing explained Kennard’s vote.

She indicated over and over that she believes Proposition 8 was a mere amendment that the people of California had the power to enact. She also noted that last year’s marriage ruling, which gave sexual orientation the same constitutional status as race and gender, would continue to be the law, even with Proposition 8. She called the heightened constitutional protection for sexual orientation “a very important holding.”

“Is it still your view that the sky has fallen and gays and lesbians are left with nothing?” she asked a gay-rights lawyer.

Kennard told them they also had the right to return to voters with their own initiative.

Lost: My Right To Marry

My friend Zachary sent me this Craiglist post from their “Best Of”:

Utah or Fresno, HA!

Love is Love: A Comedic Short Film

This is great. What if things were reversed?

Domestic Partnership vs. Marriage: A Personal Experience

This post from NoFo is amazing. A must read in its entirety:

If you have ever used words like “sacred institution” or “redefine marriage” or “threat to family values” without irony or—worse yet—harbored thoughts or cast votes against marriage equality, you are not my friend. You are not welcome in my life. I honestly see you as intellectually compromised. And I don’t care what you think your god tells you to believe. Your mythology does not trump my reality. And if you try to defend your indefensible thoughts or words or actions to me, be prepared to have your vile, repellant opinions reduced to the vile, repellant garbage that they are.

Thanks to the Tree for sharing it with me.

Why We’re Mad at the Mormon Church

Rick Jacobs of the Courage Campaign offers up a smart explanation of why the LGBT community is upset at the Mormon Chruch:

…The LDS Church or any other organization has every right to use its power to influence elections to any extent that is legal. What it doesn’t have a right to do is claim persecution when other organizations do nothing but expose the church’s forays into the political arena before a discerning public.

While the backlash against the LDS Church has made some of its members uncomfortable, they have nobody to blame but their leadership who dragged them into this mess. In an effort to repair its public image, the church has said that it wants to begin a “healing process” and has claimed support for equal rights for gays and lesbians, except for using the word “marriage” to describe unions between same-sex partners. The church now has an opportunity to demonstrate that support: Utah state Sen. Scott McCoy has introduced legislation that would provide gays and lesbians in his state with all rights that straight people enjoy except marriage.

If the LDS Church were to support McCoy, it would show that it really does believe in love, compassion and equal rights. If it does not, the church’s supposedly conciliatory stance would simply be one more obfuscation in support of truly bigoted intentions.

Socio-economic Status and Prop 8: A Path Forward

A recent poll shows that age and race were less correlated with one’s vote on Prop 8 than socio-economic status and education. Age and race are still important factors, though.

The latest PPIC poll shows that Proposition 8 also got strong backing from voters who did not attend college (69 percent) and voters who earned less than $40,000 a year (63 percent).

Age and race, meanwhile, were not as strong factors as assumed. According to the survey, 56 percent of voters over age 55 and 57 percent of non-white voters cast a yes ballot for the gay marriage ban.

Here are the key factors in order or relevance, that affected the Yes vote on Prop 8:

1. Religion
2. Education level
3. Income
4. Age
5. Race

This suggests to me that before we can expect to pass a ballot measure legalizing gay marriage in California in 2010 we need to: Change the minds of religious folks, increase the average education level in the state, raise the average income level (bring up the middle class), wait for the older gay-averse citizens to pass on, and reach out to the non-white communities. Together, this makes for a daunting task. But let’s break down each one and see where we might be able to make progress:

1. Religion. We need to build bridges to our religious friends. There are churches and individual Christians who opposed Prop 8. We need to reach out to these folks and bring them along with us on our march toward equality. They can help us better understand the Christian opposition to gays and gay marriage, and ultimately help us better communicate with those religious folks who oppose gay marriage.

2. Education. As a community, we can’t affect the education standards at the state level. But, we can volunteer at after school programs. Become teachers. Financially support programs in our communities that give kids a chance to keep up and get ahead. Support adult education programs financially and possibly by even teaching in these programs. We can have an impact on education levels, but it most likely involves us giving of ourselves to people who may be afraid of gays and who may have voted against us on Prop 8.

3. Income. The LGBT community is not going to be able to directly affect the income levels of the middle and poverty class. We can, however, volunteer with organizations that help provide relief to struggling middle class folks. And, we must make sure they know we’re here, we’re queer, we’re part of your community, and we’re all in this together. Let them know who we are and help them to release their fear of us.

4. Age. I’ve heard many suggest that there’s not much we can do regarding older citizens. They are very likely set in their ways. However, now might be a good time to come out to your grandparents or at least discuss Prop 8 with them. You never know whose mind you might be able to change. My grandparents were all FDR Democrats and very accepting of others. Let’s find those who are like my grandparents and help them extend their philosophy of acceptance to include LGBT folks.

5. Race. Reaching out to non-white communities is something I’ve written extensively about already (here, here, and here). I’m sure much will be done on this front. Let’s hope the outreach is done at the grass-roots level, and not from the top-down. This means that we can no longer simply rely on our alliances with the NAACP and Latino organizations. We must communicate directly with individuals in non-white communities and make our faces known and our voices heard. At the same time we must also listen to and learn about the African-American and Latino communities. It’s a two-way street and we must be willing to open our hearts and minds if we hope other will open theirs to us.

Rather than singularly focusing on race relations, let’s start addressing each of the 5 demographic areas of opposition listed above. Why think small? If we think small, we won’t change the hearts and minds of our fellow citizens, and we will never gain real equality. Let’s think big and create a broad-based coalitions that reach out and demystify gay marriage the LGBT culture.

I’m ready. Are you?

New Give Them Hope Video

Prop 8: The Musical

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

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