Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Robert Rauschenberg Can Only B... | In the Last 24 Hours on Line O... »

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Same-Sex Marriage—Remember Same-Sex Marriage?

posted by on May 14 at 13:07 PM

The Supreme Court of California announced today that it will hand down its ruling on same-sex marriage at 10 AM tomorrow. Observers are cautiously optimistic—or pessimistic, depending on their POV—about tomorrow’s ruling. All signs supposedly point to a pro-marriage-equality ruling in California.

And here’s the big ol’ but: Anti-gay activists in California have already gathered enough signatures to place an anti-same-sex-marriage amendment on the ballot in that state this November. The passages of anti-same-sex-marriage amendment to California’s state constitution would, of course, undo any legal same-sex marriages solemnized in California if the state supreme court legalizes same-sex marriage—but only if the amendment passes, which supporters of same-sex marriage, naturally, will work like hell to prevent. But it’s going to be a fight—a big one.

Says Don at Citizen Crain:

So get ready for World War-like battle for gay rights that we have no choice but to fight as if our lives depended on it. Certainly our future does. It will involve the LGBT community throughout the nation. We can argue about whether marriage was the right issue at the right time. But we’re here now, and we have no choice but to fight as hard as we can. This isn’t just about marriage—it’s about ending legal discrimination against gay people on any issue you can think of.

This fight would go down during a national election, one that is energizing liberals and progressives all over the country. California is a blue state, firmly in the Democratic column, and the state’s exception-to-the-hue GOP governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, has already come out against amending the state’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Polls show Californians to be evenly divided on the issue—which isn’t good enough, since a significant chunk of voters don’t want to cop to their bigotry and so tell pollsters they’re for same-sex marriage when they actually intend to vote against it. But an effective campaign, coupled with Democratic GOTV efforts for Obama, could do the trick.

If the supremes in California declare the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, approved by voters in 2000, to be unconstitutional, it’s going to be the first shot in one short, noisy war. The stakes will be high and the battle will be epic—because if the courts and the voters sign off on same-sex marriage, opponents and haters in California won’t have a leg to stand on.

RSS icon Comments


Ah, California. The Big One can't come soon enough.

Posted by Zardoz | May 14, 2008 1:16 PM

If Same-sex marriage becomes legal in California, I feel that an amendment to the constitution will be brought up. "look at what those crazy liberal in California are doing." I can't wait to hear Fox News's coverage on the court's ruling. They will have fodder for weeks. Now, those crazies make me laugh.

Posted by Clearlyhere | May 14, 2008 1:17 PM

Can we please get an amendment banning marriage-based discrimination, i.e. essentially preventing the government from having anything to do with marriage?

Posted by David Wright | May 14, 2008 1:17 PM

@3, marriage is inherently a government thing. Think about it - who issues the marriage licenses?

Posted by Fifty-Two-Eighty | May 14, 2008 1:27 PM

This could make CA a toss-up/"battleground" state.

Posted by abced | May 14, 2008 1:48 PM

i'm hoping they flip the script and ban ALL marriages.

Posted by max solomon | May 14, 2008 1:50 PM

Yeah, it will be a big fight. The Briggs Initiative lost in California, but marriage is still a hot button issue. People saw banning gay teachers as just mean and homophobic. Disallowing same-sex marriage is seen as a continuation of the norm.

And remember, California isn't just Los Angeles and San Francisco. A lot of California is as redneck as it gets. Even San Diego - which has a very, very, very thriving gay community - is also very, very, very Republican. The city is filled with military jarheads and defense contract employees.

It's going to be something.

Posted by Bauhaus | May 14, 2008 1:55 PM

not. gonna. happen. would that it will.

Posted by scary tyler moore | May 14, 2008 1:58 PM

@4: What I'm proposing is that the government stop issuing marriage licenses. You can still hold whatever ceremony you want in a church. You can still make contractual agreements with your partner or partners coving inheritance, medical power of attorney, shared property, or whatever. But the government should have nothing to do with it.

Think about it: if you don't believe that the government should be able to write laws that treat gay and straight people differently, or black and white people differently, why is it okay to write laws that treat people differently based on the status of their relationship, or to create a whole class of official relationships that are treated differently from unoffical relationships? Any justification you come up with, such as a state interest in creating permaneny families, is just as good an argument to allow the state to discriminate against gay people.

Posted by David Wright | May 14, 2008 2:02 PM
since a significant chunk of voters don’t want to cop to their bigotry and so tell pollsters they’re for same-sex marriage when they actually intend to vote against it.

Yeah, and a significant chunk of bigots don't like the idea of amending the state constitution just to prevent same-sex marriage. It will not pass.

Posted by keshmeshi | May 14, 2008 2:02 PM


Totally agree with you. Unfortunately, the federal gov't has deemed it their place to give tax benefits to a certain group of people that conform to their standard of what a "marriage" is. Until everyone understands that this is intrusive and stupid (and by 'everyone', I mean the people who get federal marriage/tax benefits) it's going to stay that way. Which means: forever.

So, bring on the CA court decision. I listened to the whole preceding online, and I believe that the decision will be pro-gay marriage. In fact, in a forward-thinking state like CA (the lawyers frequently used the inter-racial marriage decision in CA as a template for the gay marriage argument) NOT to have this in place already surprises me.

Go Arnold, for saying he won't support a ballot measure. He's not all evil after all..

Posted by weg | May 14, 2008 2:10 PM

Unfortunately, a "good" result from the court might help push McCain into the White House. I wish they'd sit on the decision until after the election.

Posted by avatar | May 14, 2008 2:14 PM

Of course this will be another referendum on gay rights. That's the only way R's get elected, by stoking the fire of bigotry. Every election is the same. I've learned to be more sanguine. They are, after all, on the losing side of history.

Posted by Vince | May 14, 2008 2:22 PM

Let's not be pessimists. California is still a Blue state. If Obama gets a lot of new voters (college students) to the polls we could be looking at a good result for the gays.

I could see myself moving to California if the measure passes.

Posted by Clearlyhere | May 14, 2008 2:27 PM

@11 - Arnold's come out in the past against gay marriage. He's only backing (not fighting?) it now because it's politically expedient.

Posted by Self-Help | May 14, 2008 2:29 PM

Funny how this always seems to come up in big election cycles so it can be used as effectively as possible against Dem candidates... This'll be sure to localize anti-Obama sentiment among moderate Rs and undecideds. I would genuinely love for marriage to be an equal opportunity set of shackles for everyone, but why can't gay folks adjust their timing to avoid cutting off Dems at the knees with this every 4 years?

Posted by eric | May 14, 2008 2:46 PM

@15: On the other hand, the Governator's support at this time may help defeat the amendment by giving Republicans an out. It's not real likely, but possible.

Posted by Greg | May 14, 2008 2:47 PM

Dan, you give advice for a living. Any advice on what California groups are - in your opinion - the most effective? I'm not flying 3000 miles to go door-to-door against this amendment, but I'd sure as hell send a check to the people who will make best use of it.

Posted by BABH | May 14, 2008 2:54 PM

No! No, no, no! We can actually win this year! I don't think that the negative effect will be as great as in '04, and our advantage is huge this year, but it just has to swing a few states and we're fucked again. Goddamnit! I want to smack these fuckers who brought this action, because if they win, they advance gay marriage for six months, and then kill it for a decade. If we win in the courts, we lose in the rest of America. I'm terrified that they'll rule in favor of gay marriage tomorrow.

Posted by Gitai | May 14, 2008 7:16 PM

What % of voters need to vote in favor of a constitutional amendment in CA?

When the Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage the religious right got a constitutional amendment in the works to "fix" that. But it takes years for all the wheels to turn, and by the time it came to be voted on by the legislature, a solid majority of citizens, corporations, and lawmakers realized that:

1) same-sex marriage wasn't hurting anyone
2) a big fight over it would hurt the state.

In order for the amendment to progress to the citizens, it needed to be approved by 25% of the Mass. legislature. That's to prevent stupid stuff that hasn't been well thought-out from getting into the constitution on demagoguery. And it failed. That is, more than 75% of the legislators voted to leave the constitution alone and leave same-sex marriage legal.

California is more populist than Mass., though. So maybe it doesn't take as long for an amendment to wend its way though the system. Anyone know?

Posted by puzzlegal | May 14, 2008 8:33 PM


California operates differently than Mass. in that we have ballot initiatives that can become law with a majority vote in November. No legislative vote required. Here is a succinct Wiki article about it:

Note: An Initiative to propose a constitutional amendment has already been proposed and (as reported, won't know for sure until June) has enough signatures to get on the ballot in November. Perhaps this will encite the GOP voters to the polls more than voting for McCain will? Hopefully the Dems can withstand this stupidity. But you never know, California is a strange state.

And the highlights:

In the U.S. state of California, state laws may be proposed directly by the public, as well as the state's Constitution may be amended either by public petition or by the legislature submitting a proposed constitutional amendment to the electorate. The process of allowing the public to propose legislation or constitutional amendments is called the Initiative. The process of the state legislature proposing Constitutional amendments is called a Referendum. The process occurs in one of two ways.

First, the state legislature may pass an act which is signed by the governor, proposing a state constitutional amendment, which is then submitted to the voters as a referendum at the next statewide election. If more than 50% of the voters approve the referendum then the constitutional amendment is approved and goes into effect.

Second, the general public may propose via the initiative, either amendments to the state constitution or the creation of new statute laws, which is done by writing a proposed constitutional amendment or statute as a petition, and submitting the petition to the state's Attorney General along with a submission fee (in 2004 this was $200), and obtaining signatures on petitions from registered voters amounting to 8% (for a constitutional amendment) or 5% (for a statute) of the number of people who voted in the most recent election for governor. The signed petitions are then sent to the state's Secretary of State for validation of signatures.
Laws already adopted by the state legislature may be overturned by means of a referendum. To qualify a referendum for inclusion on the ballot, a referendum petition must have been signed by at least 10% of active voters.

Posted by weg | May 15, 2008 8:42 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).