The war for equality is far from over but another important battle has been won. Yesterday the California Supreme Court ruled that statutes limiting marriage to only between a man and a woman are not constitutional. The 4-3 ruling drew heavily on its 1948 ruling in a case that ended restrictions on interracial marriage.
The opinion is a fascinating read and you can find the full text here. Some key thoughts:
The court ruled that differential treatment provided to same-sex couples (through domestic partnership laws) did not serve a compelling state interest:
“…permitting same-sex couples access to the designation of marriage will not deprive opposite-sex couples of any rights and will not alter the legal framework of the institution of marriage…”
“…affording same-sex couples only a separate and differently named family relationship will … impose appreciable harm on same-sex couples and their children, because denying such couples access to the familiar and highly favored designation of marriage is likely to cast doubt on whether the official family relationship of same-sex couples enjoys dignity equal to that of opposite-sex couples.”
“…providing only a separate and distinct designation for same-sex couples may well have the effect of perpetuating a more general premise – now emphatically rejected by this state – that gay individuals and same-sex couples are in some respects ‘second-class citizens’…”
As mentioned before, conservative forces in the state are gathering momentum and will likely place an initiative on the November ballot to change the state constitution and define marriage specifically as between a man and a woman, a move that would invalidate Thursday’s ruling. There is also the question of if – and how – the court’s ruling will play out in the Presidential campaign.
There seems to be good reason to think that it won’t carry the weight that it had in the 2004 and other previous elections. Matthew Dowd, one of Bush’s chief strategists in the 2004 campaign, was quoted in the NY Times talking about the effect the ruling will have in the general election: “At best, it doesn’t move voters, and at worst for the Republicans, it moves them against them. Not so much on the issue, but it becomes, ‘Why are we having a discussion on this issue when we should be talking about things that matter, like the economy, or health care, or the war?’ “
But don’t relax and let your guard down. Christianists – those hard-line fundamentalist Christians that have more in common with their Jihadist brethren than they do with the teachings of Jesus – won’t rest until the world is remade in their own image and each of us either march in lock-step with them, or are (in their assumption of how it will work out) roasting in hell.
Tonight, though, Tawn and I will open a bottle of sparkling wine (with Mario, a visiting guest from Chicago) and toast the victory in this battle. In doing so, I will make a wish that those who would oppress us will perhaps be moved upon seeing that even in their loss, the world has not ended: Marriages will remain marriages, faith will remain faith, and respect and compassion will remain the abiding ways with which we should treat each other.