Yosemite Valley, California
It's a beautiful day in California! In a resounding victory for gay men and lesbians, the California Supreme Court on Thursday struck down a state ban on same-sex marriage. The 4-3 decision makes California the second state, after Massachusetts in 2003, to allow same-sex couples to marry.
The California Supreme Court rejected arguments from state officials about the importance of preserving the tradition of heterosexual marriage and said, "The exclusion of same-sex couples from the designation of marriage works a real and appreciable harm upon same-sex couples and their children."
The decision, written by Chief Justice Ronald George, recounted the history of discrimination against gay people and emphasized that, in time, traditions of bias must change. He referred to the bans on interracial marriage that were once common and were struck down by the Supreme Court in 1967.
"Although the understanding of marriage as limited to a union of a man and a woman is undeniably the predominant one," George wrote, "if we have learned anything from the significant evolution in the prevailing societal views and official policies toward members of minority races and toward women over the past half-century, it is that even the most familiar and generally accepted of social practices and traditions often mask an unfairness and inequality."
The California court based its decision on its state constitution. As a result, the decision sets no legal precedent beyond California's borders. Yet the ruling is likely to add momentum to the ongoing legal fights over gay marriage across the country and could reshape the politics of the upcoming November elections in California and nationally.
While our political memories tend to be rather short, as recently as the last election cycle in 2004, the furor over the actions of the Massachusetts Supreme Court were fresh in the minds of voters and calls for a US Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage were national news. The gay marriage issue four years ago may have tipped the scales in the favor of the conservatives and undoubtedly contributed to the re-election of George Bush as President. Now here we are again in 2008 and the same topic is once again national news, only California usually speaks a lot louder than Massachusetts.
While I am esctatic for my gay and lesbian friends, I hope and pray that this issue remains a non-issue in the 2008 election cycle. Being opposed to gay marriage is silly. If there are two people in love, why interfere and prevent them from being happy?
The argument thrown around four years ago that gay marriage threatens the sanctity of marriage is a smokescreen and hypocrisy of the worst kind. Many of those speaking out on the sanctity of marriage have been divorced multiple times. With a divorce rate over 50% in the United States, the real threat to the sanctity of marriage is the ease of which marriages can be dissolved through divorce. As a child of a divorced couple, I know first-hand about the insidious ways divorce can harm children. If politicians really want to protect the sanctity of marriage, they need to pass a constitutional amendment prohibiting divorce, not gay marriage.
Today I applaud the Supreme Court of California. Their reasoning is solid and their decision is just. Today, just one day after bloggers united to stand up for human rights, makes the Supreme Court decision even more meaningful. But today, I really hope and pray that this decision becomes old news fast. The 2008 Election Cycle has been ugly enough. There are enough issues of importance that need immediate attention for us to focus on without the distraction of a right-wing crusade.
Thanks for reading.