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Posts Tagged ‘Prop. 8 trial’

After Wednesdays landmark decision  to overturn Prop. 8 (California’s ban on same-sex marriage), several news shows highlighted coverage of the legal victory in the Prop. 8 case, and discussed the important move toward full marriage equality in America.

On MSNBC that night, Keith Olbermann replayed his special comment from 11/10/2008 — after Prop. 8 had won that night via “popular vote.” This may be one of the best rebuttals to the “re-defining marriage” mantra.

I keep hearing this term “re-defining” marriage. If this country hadn’t re-defined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn’t have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it’s worse than that. If this country had not “re-defined” marriage, some black people still couldn’t marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not “Until Death, Do You Part,” but “Until Death or Distance, Do You Part.” Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace… that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling.  With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?


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I saw this below quote posted somewhere yesterday after the news broke that Proposition 8 in California was overturned:

“9th Circuit Court in California overturns the rights of the people in today’s ruling on gay marriage. Remember the time when a majority ruled in this country?”

And that got me thinking.

So many of our important human rights decisions in America’s history would likely not have ever been made if it had been put to a popular vote–or up to majority rule.

What if, in 1865, the abolition of slavery was put to a vote instead of the 13th amendment being added to the Constitution? What would the outcome have looked like if the Civil Rights Act of 1875 had been put to a majority rule vote? During World War I, blacks served in the United States Armed Forces in segregated units. Pressure to end racial segregation in the government grew among African Americans and progressives after the end of World War II. On July 26, 1948, President Harry S. Truman signed Executive Order 9981, ending segregation in the United States Armed Forces. Chances are that such an executive order at that time in American history never would have survived a popular vote by the majority rule. It is not a stretch to imagine what would have happened in the 1960’s if racial segregation was put to a vote instead of laws being passed against it. Such as with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. I imagine that if that had been put to a “majority rule” popular vote back then — it never would have happened.

“No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life liberty or property without due process of law, nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Even if a lot of people within a given State want to, rights are not supposed to be put up for a vote.

“Fundamental rights may not be submitted to a vote; they depend on the outcome of no elections.” (Prop. 8 Trial)

Based on the evidence at trial, Judge Walker found:

1. “Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation. No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.”

2. “California has no interest in asking gays and lesbians to change their sexual orientation or in reducing the number of gays and lesbians in California.”

3. “Same-sex couples are identical to opposite-sex couples in the characteristics relevant to the ability to form successful marital unions. …”

4. “Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals.”

5. “The availability of domestic partnership does not provide gays and lesbians with a status equivalent to marriage because the cultural meaning of marriage and its associated benefits are intentionally withheld from same-sex couples in domestic partnerships.”

6. “Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not affect the number of opposite-sex couples who marry, divorce, cohabit, have children outside of marriage or otherwise affect the stability of opposite-sex marriages.”

7. “Proposition 8 places the force of law behind stigmas against gays and lesbians, including: gays and lesbians do not have intimate relationships similar to heterosexual couples; gays and lesbians are not as good as heterosexuals; and gay and lesbian relationships do not deserve the full recognition of society.”

8. “Proposition 8 increases costs and decreases wealth for same sex couples because of increased tax burdens, decreased availability of health insurance and higher transactions costs to secure rights and obligations typically associated with marriage.”

9. “Proposition 8 singles out gays and lesbians and legitimates their unequal treatment. Proposition 8 perpetuates the stereotype that gays and lesbians are incapable of forming long-term loving relationships and that gays and lesbians are not good parents.”

10. “The gender of a child’s parent is not a factor in a child’s adjustment. The sexual orientation of an individual does not determine whether that individual can be a good parent. …”

So, what’s next? That is not exactly clear. This issue will eventually go before the Federal Supreme Court as lawyers on both sides expect the ruling to be appealed and ultimately reach the U.S. Supreme Court during the next few years. And then eventually (hopefully) D.O.M.A. will be overturned — paving the way for Federal recognition of same-sex unions across State lines.


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As the Prop. 8 trial continues in California it brings same-sex marriage to the forefront of the news in America once again. It makes one ponder the question I know that I have thought of so many times since 2004 when gay marriage started becoming a big political spotlight issue: what are people so afraid of? What it is about same-sex marriage that brings people together on so many levels? What is it about this issue that often times brings individuals together solely for the purpose of striking down any possibility of any relationship recognition for same-sex couples?

If marriage is so special, if it provides a glue and a stability for families and culture… then why not spread it around a little more liberally? You can read/listen to more here about the conservative case for gay marriage.

Time magazine on the conservative case for same-sex marriage:

“Conservatives have long rightly argued for the vital importance of the institution of marriage for fostering responsibility, commitment and the domestication of unruly men. Bringing gay men and women into this institution will surely change the gay subculture in subtle but profoundly conservative ways.”

Here is a Day 4 summary of the Prop 8 Trial.

Update from Day 5 of the Prop 8 Trial.

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