1 Corinthians 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside?
We are all too familiar with California and Proposition 8 (titled “Eliminate the Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”). But I doubt you are familiar with the 2004 election and the 20 other such amendments that were passed that year! Propositions titled as “Alabama Marriage Amendment”, “State Issue One” (Ohio), and “Mississppi Marriage Amendment”.
The 2004 election saw the Bush-Cheney ticket running it’s course against democratic contender John Kerry. Now at the time, Marriage Equality hadn’t been an issue really since 1996 when the United State Congress passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in lieu of Hawaii having legalized it (for a day, before it’s own State Legislature outlawed it).
But the US Supreme Court had, in 2003, decided ‘Lawrence v. Texas’ which made it unconstitutional (and thus illegal) to enforce the 14 sodomy laws still on the books in the United States. One of the Supreme Court justices had written in his dissent (written opinion against a ruling) that ‘Lawrence v. Texas’ took away the legal reasoning in denying marriage rights to same-sex couples. That and the fact that Massachusetts had legalized the next year, in early 2004 in the case ‘Goodridge v. Department of Public Health.
These events shook up a wasps’ nest of homophobic activity within the nation. Hate crimes against gays and lesbians rose, and Conservatives went on Air to deride homosexuals as “pedophiles”, “corrupters of the youth”, and “persons that tear at the fabric of society”. The RNC, seeing the advantage in getting out the vote in an election year, then coordinated over 20 marriage amendments over the subsequent months in a number of swing-states in the south and midwestern United States. Conservative Catholics and Evangelicals swamped the polls on election day.
In Ohio, despite the fact the over $942,000 was spent in opposition to Issue One, the amendment passed with 61% of the vote. To that end, it is suggested that it was because of that referendum in Ohio that Bush got reelected as it energized social conservatives and got out the vote in favour of the Republican Party, to which end no Republican president has gotten elected without Ohio since Abraham Lincoln. And after all, it was the RNC (Republican National Convention) that assisted and endorsed the marriage amendments.
The Democratic base also split during the election. At the time only about 30% of Democrats were in favour of Marriage Equality (preferring civil unions instead). John Kerry (himself a supporter of only civil unions, as was George Bush) lost the election by a wide margin and none of the 20 plus amendments introduced were defeated, nor were the other 10 passed before 2004 or after.
What made Prop 8 in California so different was that it rescinded those rights which had been previously granted (Marriage Equality only lasted 7 months).
But the American public in general was, at the time, only in favour of it by a small margin. Only 36% were pro-equality. Since then, it has grown to 52%!
And this year, we may see Maine, Maryland, Washington vote for marriage equality in referendums legalizing it! Which has never been done before! And we may see Minnesota vote against a proposed anti-marriage equality amendment which also has never before happened! And we may see Ohio hold a referendum in November 2013 to repeal the amendment it passed in 2004 (which wouldn’t legalize marriage equality, but would make huge headway. Next it’s laws against equality would either have to be struck down by a court or legislatively repealed)!
We are still awaiting Prop 8 to be struck down (we may know if the Supreme Court will deny review, thus leaving the 9th Circuit Court’s judgment that it’s unconstitutional in place. Or if it will want to review the case further, thus expanding the wait ‘til late next July.) and we are also waiting for the Supreme Court to strike down sec. 3 of DOMA (which outlaws federal recognition of same-sex marriages) and for Congress to repeal the Act completely (erasing it from the books and requiring all states to recognize such marriages).
The gay Civil Rights Movement is at the beginning of the end! Marital discrimination is getting attacked now and the federal government is making progress on ending anti-LGBT discrimination in the workplace the School.
Soon the religious-right (NOM, PFOXX, Side-B, and Side-X) will all just be a bad memory. Like the people who opposed interracial marriage, opposed abolition, and opposed women’s voting rights.
But for now we have to wait until the day comes when we have our civil rights and acceptance in all places.
On Aug. 31, the Supreme Court Justices will decide if they will grant ‘a writ of Certiorari’ (a notice stating they have agreed to hear the case) to the supporters of prop 8. Should they grant it (it requires four out of nine justices to do so), the case will be heard early 2013 and decided in June.
IF they don’t, however, the 9th Circuit’s previous ruling that Prop 8 is unconstitutional shall enter effect and the State of California shall not be able to enforce it any longer (Supremecy Clause of the US Constitution).
As it is, the lower courts ruling is ‘stayed’ (on hold) until the Supreme Court either strikes down the amendment to the State of California’s constitution (which is what Prop 8 is) or denies ‘Certiorari’.
In any event, Prop 8 will need to be repealed (deleted) from the CA State constitution as it willbe a useless legal statement and a discriminatory one at that.
Personally, I expect review to be denied and for Marriage Equality to return to California by the end of August (just a little over 4 years since it was first granted!).
Be on the lookout for the result on Aug 31st!
By Scottie Thomaston
Edited and updated for clarification
David Blankenhorn, who founded the Institute for American Values, testified in the Prop 8 trial as a witness in favor of Proposition 8. He is the witness who, when cross-examined by attorney David Boies with questions on how marriage equality would harm heterosexual marriage, replied “The safest answer is: I don’t know.” (Later attorney Charles Cooper, defending Proposition 8, told Judge Walker the same thing: “I don’t know.”) He is also the witness who said we would be “more American” on the day marriage equality is legalized.
He evolved a bit further when he came out against North Carolina’s anti-gay Amendment 1earlier this year.
Today in an op-ed in the New York Times, Blankenhorn says he now supports marriage equality:
IN my 2007 book, “The Future of Marriage,” and in my 2010 court testimony concerning Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that defined marriage as between a man and a woman, I took a stand against gay marriage. But as a marriage advocate, the time has come for me , to accept gay marriage and emphasize the good that it can do. I’d like to explain why.
He says that he has some reservations about gay relationships, but under the law these relationships should be afforded equal dignity:
For me, the most important is the equal dignity of homosexual love. I don’t believe that opposite-sex and same-sex relationships are the same, but I do believe, with growing numbers of Americans, that the time for denigrating or stigmatizing same-sex relationships is over. Whatever one’s definition of marriage, legally recognizing gay and lesbian couples and their children is a victory for basic fairness.
Another good thing is comity. Surely we must live together with some degree of mutual acceptance, even if doing so involves compromise. Sticking to one’s position no matter what can be a virtue. But bending the knee a bit, in the name of comity, is not always the same as weakness. As I look at what our society needs most today, I have no stomach for what we often too glibly call “culture wars.” Especially on this issue, I’m more interested in conciliation than in further fighting.
Importantly, and surprisingly – especially coming from a pro-Proposition 8 witness – Blankenhorn admits outright that much of the opposition to gay relationships isn’t based on the things others have suggested: honest disagreement or respect for tradition or religion; rather it’s based on anti-gay animus:
And to my deep regret, much of the opposition to gay marriage seems to stem, at least in part, from an underlying anti-gay animus. To me, a Southerner by birth whose formative moral experience was the civil rights movement, this fact is profoundly disturbing.
Blankenhorn says he wants to move forward and work together to build coalitions with gays and straights alike to strengthen marriage.
If you’re following the trial of California’s Proposition 8 (“Eliminates the Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry”) which was enacted via referendum in 2008, heres the summary of what’s happened in the 9th Circuit US Court of Appeals:
Tried at District LevelRuled Unconstitutional under the 14th Amendement (May 2009-August 4th, 2010) Appealed Tried by 9th Circuit Panel of 3 JudgesUpheld District Court’s ruling 2-1, ruling narrowed only to California’s specific case. (February 7, 2012) Appealed to En Banc Court of the 9th Circuit JudgesAppeal denied by 9th Circuit (June 5, 2012)
- Appeal for certiorari (Review) by Supreme Court of the United States - PENDING, to be accepted or denied later this fall