In November, California voters passed Proposition 8, which amended the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage:
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
The ballot initiative passed 52 percent to 48 percent.
Opponents of Prop 8 didn’t like the election outcome and immediately filed lawsuits to overturn the will of the people.
Earlier this week, the California Supreme Court upheld the ban on gay marriage. In a 6-1 decision, the Supremes set aside their “own personal beliefs and values” and ruled:
Instead, the measure carves out a narrow and limited exception to these state constitutional rights, reserving the official designation of the term “marriage” for the union of opposite-sex couples as a matter of state constitutional law, but leaving undisturbed all of the other extremely significant substantive aspects of a same-sex couple's state constitutional right to establish an officially recognized and protected family relationship and the guarantee of equal protection of the laws.
The Court let stand the 18,000 same-sex marriages performed before the measure went into effect.
Second, the Court’s decision to continue recognizing those same-sex couples who obtained marriage licenses prior to the passage of Prop 8 should be kept in perspective. Remember that a large number of the marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples were for out-of-state residents traveling to California -- which will not be recognized anyway in the vast majority of their home states. Moreover, if California goes as Massachusetts did after legalizing gay marriage, a substantial portion of the still-recognized gay marriages will be dissolved by divorce within a few years. In the end, only a tiny number of gay marriages will continue to be recognized. What really matters is that the vast majority of what was at stake in this case -- the right of the voters to amend the state constitution to restore traditional marriage going forward -- ultimately proved to be a complete victory for us!
While opponents of the ruling are not able to exchange wedding vows, they vow to “win marriage back.” They plan to put an initiative on the ballot in 2010 to restore “marriage equality in California.” This time, they will reach out to African Americans. Their message: Gay marriage is a civil right.
On Saturday, supporters of gay marriage will march from Selma, California to Fresno “in a symbolic sign of respect to the social movements before us.”
In the meantime, gay and lesbian couples have the wedding bell blues.