Preserving California’s Constitution
California voters will have a chance in November to protect the rights of gay men and women, and to preserve the state’s Constitution. They should vote against Proposition 8, which seeks to amend that Constitution to prevent people of the same sex from marrying.
The measure would overturn a firmly grounded State Supreme Court decision that said everyone has a basic right “to establish a legally recognized family with the person of one’s choice.” It said the state’s strong domestic partnership statute was inadequate, making California the second state to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Massachusetts did so in 2004.
Whether this important civil rights victory endures is now up to California voters. Opponents of giving gay couples the protections, dignity and respect that come with marriage are working furiously to try to overturn the court ruling through Proposition 8. It is our fervent hope that Californians will reject this mean-spirited attempt to embed second-class treatment of one group of citizens in the State Constitution.
If passed, Proposition 8 would add language to the State Constitution stating that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” Supporters of the amendment complain about the “activist” judges who wrote the court decision. But the majority in the 4-to-3 ruling was acting to protect a vulnerable group from unfair treatment. Enforcing the state’s guarantee of equal protection is a job assigned to judges.
It is true that in 2000 California voters approved a ballot measure recognizing only heterosexual marriages as valid. But since then, the public has grown more comfortable with idea of marriage equality. The California Legislature passed a measure to let gay couples marry in 2005, and another in 2007. Both were vetoed by the Republican governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took the wrong position — that the change had to come either from the courts or through a ballot initiative.
To his credit, Mr. Schwarzenegger is now among those opposing Proposition 8. To his discredit, John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee, is in favor of restoring marriage discrimination. Barack Obama opposes the initiative, as do California’s senators, Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, both Democrats.
The proponents of Proposition 8 make the familiar claim that legalizing same-sex marriage undercuts marriage between men and women. But thousands of gay and lesbian couples have been married in California since the May ruling and marriage remains intact.
Similar discriminatory measures are on the ballot in Arizona and Florida. They also should be rejected.
(To see the editorial, visit: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/29/opinion/29mon3.html?_r=2&emc=tnt&tntemail1=y&oref=slogin&oref=slogin)That says it all. I hope my fellow Californians will agree and reject Prop 8.
Tuesday's Political News #1 - Michael