Tuesday, May 26, 2009
Proposition 8 Decided: Split Decision
Today, the long-awaited decision by the California Supreme Court regarding last November's Proposition 8 was finally handed down. The surprise was that it wasn't all that surprising a result. The Court upheld the misguided vote by the people to strip marriage rights from gay people. But they also decided that the 18,000+ same-sex marriages that had already taken place would be allowed to stand.
Which places yours truly in a category I've never sought: a recipient of "special rights." The Other Half and I got married in Palm Springs almost a year ago. And while I would have continued to wear my wedding ring in any event, I'm relieved that it still represents a legally valid marriage in an increasing number of states. But it puts me in an odd category. I hold a right that no further gay person will be allowed to hold in California as the law currently stands.
Of course, there will be further challenges to the new status quo. Gay rights activists plan to put another ballot initiative to a vote, and good for them. Oddly, it compounds the already flawed system of voting on the rights of a group of citizens. I think most people had previously understood that voting on minority rights just isn't how we usually do things in America. There's the whole "tyranny of the majority" thing. Civil rights might never have been passed for African Americans--for example--if they had been put to a vote in the 1960s.
So, there will probably be a hew and cry by "Yes on 8" activists who started this whole thing. They'll likely shout "the people have spoken," and accuse their opposition of trying to reverse "settled law." But you see, this whole flawed system was exploited by the Yes on 8ers. And there is no prohibition about trying again. If anything, the new initiative will have a stronger leg to stand on, since people like me enjoy a right that other people cannot. Plus, it may shine a light on the absurdity of California's initiative process. So a disappointing day in this long war may end up being a turning point for future success. All in my opinion, of course.