Tuesday, May 26, 2009

No surprise. Equality is still a dream.

The California State Supreme Court came out with its long-awaited ruling on the validity of Prop. 8, which bans same-sex marriages in California. The court upheld Prop. 8, which is no surprise since the argument before the court was a technical issue about whether the proposition legally amended the state constitution.

Technical issues aside, today is just a reminder of how much work still needs to be done. Despite the recent success of gay marriages in the courts and legislatures in other states — mostly on the East Coast — in the nation’s most populous state it remains a fractious dividing point.

Interestingly, the court allowed 18,000 same-sex couples who married before the adoption of Prop. 8 to remain married since they did so with the full blessing of the laws at the time. So these couples, who I’ll call the “test marriages,” will now have rights that others just like them won’t. This creates a dichotomy in the state that is so surreal.

But I hope that these 18,000 couples and their marriages will show the hateful, ignorant supporters of Prop. 8 to realize that having gay marriages will not lessen their marriages or somehow weaken them. Hopefully they’ll see that they can co-exist with loving same-sex couples who just want to live happily ever after like them.

So what now? The work to bring marriage equality continues with more education and a lot more protests. I’m sure they’ll be events this afternoon, but the major event will be on Saturday with a “Meet in the Middle,” where people will march and gather in Fresno in Central California. This isn’t just the center of the state, but it also represents an area that needs a lot of educating about marriage equality. (Not necessarily the city of Fresno but more the Central Valley in general.)

The Courage Campaign is also trying to put TV ads that encourage the message of non-discrimination. The ad, called “Fidelity,” is pretty powerful and positive. Here it is below...

Learn more about the campaign to get 1 million signatures to join the repeal of Prop. 8 by going to the group's site here.

Needless to say, you can expect another brutal ballot initiative, possibly in 2010. While I wished it could be the courts who make the final decision, it looks like because of California’s horrendous proposition system, we will have to rely on the will of the people. And God willing, they will be more compassionate the next time they rule on another’s rights.

Links to today’s coverage:
Prop. 8 Upheld by State Supreme Court, LA Times
Court upholds Prop. 8 but lets marriages stand, SF Chronicle
California Supreme court Upholds Ban on Same-Sex Marriage, New York Times

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Maine Joins the New England Wedding Rush

It’s fitting that New England, some of the early grounds for the birth of our nation, appears to be leading the way in granting equal marriage rights to all citizens. Just today, Maine Gov. John Baldacci (a Democrat who once opposed same-sex marriages) signed a bill passed by the state legislature to allow same-sex marriages.

In signing the bill, Gov. Baldacci said he couldn’t let his personal beliefs blind him to his duty to uphold the Constitutional rights of everyone. He says: “I have a responsibility to uphold the Constitution. That’s my job, and you can’t allow discrimination to stand when it’s raised to your level.”

His action reminds me of the ethical dilemma of another governor a long time ago. I grew up in Hawaii, and that state’s first governor, John Burns, was a staunch Catholic. But he signed a bill allowing abortion in the state because he believed in a woman’s right to her body. This separation of church and state should always be the guiding principle among our leaders, rightly demonstrated years ago by Hawaii Gov. Burns and today by Gov. Baldacci.

Still, there’s the possibility that conservatives will take this issue “to the people” and bully the popular vote into rescinding what lawmakers have determined is best for the state. It’s this mass riot mentality that got the California populace to deny marriage rights to gays last year. Let’s hope Maine voters don’t repeat the mistake of California, and they let freedom (and wedding bells) ring loud and clear.

Link to New York Times story.