On The Legal And The Personal In The Prop. 8 Case

The Sacramento Bee will host a live webcast discussion with legal experts about the implications of the California Supreme Court’s ruling on Prop. 8, on minority rights, the First Amendment, equal protection and even religious freedom.  It promises to be a good discussion, and it starts at noon.

But considering that the Court has, for now, given up on its ability to protect the civil rights of the minority in the face of mob rule, the logical arguments must also incorporate the emotional ones, and what must be now taken into account are the personal stories, highlighted here by state lawmakers.

Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, confided in a Capitol press conference that her daughter is lesbian.

“This is a decision that affects all Californians in a very personal way,” Skinner said of the ruling on Proposition 8.

“It impacts my family in saying that somehow my daughter’s love for the woman who is her partner is not as valid as the love others have for the opposite sex.”

Skinner appeared at a news conference with the Legislature’s four openly gay members, all Democrats – Sen. Mark Leno, San Francisco; Sen. Christine Kehoe, San Diego; Assemblyman John Perez, Los Angeles; and Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, San Francisco.

San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders, a Republican, spoke briefly at the event, noting that he has one daughter who is lesbian and the other “straight.”

“They don’t have the same rights today,” Sanders said.

I want to add my voice to that personalization by highlighting this section of an LA Times piece on some of the 18,000 married couples, now granted separate rights than their fellow gays and lesbians.

Julie Nice, a University of San Francisco law professor specializing in constitutional and sexuality law, sees the emergence of the legally married gay class as yet another inconsistency in the nation’s laws governing same-sex marriage.

“This kind of chaotic patchwork is not sustainable,” Nice said of laws recognizing the right of gays to marry in five states, granting recognition to legal marriages conducted elsewhere in a few others and now California’s validation of the pre-Proposition 8 marriages while denying the status to other gays […]

Several gay couples were in attendance as West Hollywood officials sought to chart a path forward in the fight for same-sex marriage rights after the high court’s decision. Although Mark Katz, 58, and Robert Goodman, 48, continue to be recognized in the state as legally married, they deemed the ruling “tragic.”

“This is as if we were freed slaves living in a slave state,” said Goodman, a career counselor. “We were able to keep our marriage, but none of our brothers will be able to marry.”

Mark Katz is my cousin.  The rhetorical bomb-throwing must run in the family.  But they are wonderful people, with an adopted son, and while yesterday’s ruling secured some of their civil rights, they are not satisfied with being put on a kind of island, where their friends and fellow citizens must live under a separate system.

The legal ramifications of this are truly troubling, and ought to be examined thoroughly.  But my first thought turns to my cousin.  And those familial connections, and the new connections forged through organizing, will eventually be how these rights are achieved for everyone.

3 thoughts on “On The Legal And The Personal In The Prop. 8 Case”

  1. One thing that irks me is that marriage equality supporters (of which I count myself among them) are really mauling the supreme court over this.  You said: But considering that the Court has, for now, given up on its ability to protect the civil rights of the minority in the face of mob rule.  However, based on my reading of the opinion, my takeaway was “The California Constitution has enshrined mob rule, and we wish we could do something about that, but given the current law, we can’t.”  It’s really a statement in favor of the rule of law, accompanied by an admission that the law in question sucks.

    Please don’t demonize the Supreme Court over this.  If they were going to bow to mob rule, they would’ve simply upheld 2000’s Prop 22 and none of this would have happened.  The Court has sent us a clear signal that we must correct the Constitution to strip mob rule out of it, but until then, they are powerless.

  2. Here’s how the story is going to go.  In 2010 or 2012 there will be an initiative on the ballot that would legalize same-sex marriage.  Everyone is going to work like crazy to pass it and on election night we will win.

    I am the biggest sucker in the world for a good love story.  I can see the thousands of couples who have always loved each other now being able to marry the one they love.  Isn’t it a great story?

    I know how much it sucks that they cannot marry right now, but these weather-worn prejudices don’t fall easily.  I’m trying not to think about how much this sucks but rather how great it will be when people can marry not based on a court decision but because the people of California want everyone to marry the one they love.

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