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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

California Supreme Court: “Do we contradict ourselves? Very well then, we contradict ourselves, (We are large. We contain multitudes.)”

In what can only be interpreted as a “punt” the California Supreme Court today ruled both that Proposition 8, which amended the Constitution to read that marriage is only between a man and a woman, did not violate the California Constitution and that despite what the definition of marriage in California is there are still 18,000 gay couples who are “married.”


I’m offended.

I’m offended as a philosopher.

The Court effectively created three classes of citizens in California today (Bonus! Extra class! There used to be just two in the “marriage” discussion.) There are heterosexual couples, who are the only couples who can be married in California and whose domestic partnerships can be called “marriages.” There are homosexual couples, who cannot be married in California and whose domestic partnerships cannot be called “marriages.” And there are other homosexual couples who are married and whose domestic partnerships can be called “marriages.”

The Court has declared that the Constitution of California recognizes more inequality than even Proposition 8 would have introduced to it.

What the Court hasn’t done is settle the matter. The voters of California want marriage defined a certain way; the California Constitution now protects that definition; but it is also clear that California does recognize gay marriage. So, what about recognizing gay marriages performed in other states? Should the rest of California’s gay couples who want to marry do so in Vermont then dare the California government to refuse to recognize those marriages? Should a challenge be immediately issued in the Federal courts under the Equal Protection clause? (Because really? The only difference between legitimate and illegitimate gay marriage in California is calendar date? Rights don’t evaporate when Monday becomes Tuesday.)

Even more annoying: California’s Constitutional Amendment process that requires only a 50% majority has been demonstrated to be the process that holds sway on questions of marriage rights. Proposition 8, the Court ruled, was not a revision of the Constitution, which would have required legislative approval before being put to the voters. Proposition “To Hell With 8” in 2010, then, will not be a revision either, so it will only require a 50% majority to change the Constitution to explicitly recognize gay marriages. And the direction of the support for gay marriage in California has been up over the years, not down, so the likelihood of an amendment recognizing gay marriage is higher than it would have been ten years ago. Maybe it can be passed.

And around and around and around it will go. This either ends with the U.S. Supreme Court or it never ends.

The California Supreme Court made no decision at all today, except that they didn’t want to be called “activist” again. Well, congratulations, Court.

You are inactivist judges.


Nibblet's Mom said...

I'm afraid I don't understand how California can have people like you and still be such an unenlightened bunch of assholes.

PS Your son is adorable

Palympset said...

totally agree with you - my take:

passinthru said...

Well, I'm not currently a resident of California (sad, but it happens), but I think you understimate the training of judges and lawyers. They all train with the White Queen:
"Alice laughed: "There's no use trying," she said; "one can't believe impossible things."
"I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast."

Contradiction is mother's milk to 'em.

The question of whether states will refuse to recognise the legal decisions of other states can be expected to be interesting, however. A charming by-product of Federalism is the grudging respect usually paid to the decisions of neighboring states. Generally speaking, states have tended to recognise marriages made elsewhere, even under different rules. For example, if your wayward 13 year old got married in Kansas or New Hampshire, they don't become unmarried, just by relocating to Iowa.

But we're in for a long stupid road on the gay marriage business. Yesterday an otherwise plesant gentleman in the Radio Shack told me that if gay marriage was permitted, the civilization would end, because no more children would be born. Did you realize that? I hadn't figured heterosexual behavior and reproduction were so entirely dependent on governmental incentives.

Sure opened MY eyes. :D

Rachel said...

I'm saddened by today's decision but optimistic that, in time, a few more old conservative California bigots die off and a new wave of young liberals will take their place and overturn this embarrassing discriminatory law.

GeekMommy said...

Well, technically the Monday/Tuesday thing has tons of legal precedence (hence the term "Grandfather Clause") but seriously - your Supreme Court out there could logic itself into non-existence if they tried.

Burgh Baby said...

So much smart in California (like you), but you're surrounded by stupid. Here's to hoping the whole mess is cleared up soon and that all people are granted the same rights.

Anonymous said...

It's a merry-go-round, but it's not very merry.

Goldfish said...

Agreed; it is a very nice title. And it is very good to have a rational breakdown of the whole bit. And I am sad. (Sadness, however, is not preventing me from trying to figure out if you are playing on Whitman's sexuality.)

ZenMom said...

Brilliantly stated. As usual.

I do believe that we will eventually get to the right place, morally and legally. But today's ruling was just ridiculous.

ali said...

Well said.

furiousBall said...

this is the sound of one (heterosexual) hand (with a wedding band) clapping... which makes exactly as much sense as what Cali did yesterday

Kim said...

Very well said !! Living in bass-ackward Alabama, I am stunned at how California made this decision. That just gives the good-ol-boy rednecks here more ammo to deny everyone their equal rights. Asshats.

PS - I tagged you in a me-me at my blog, hope you don't mind !!!

Daddy Files said...

I'm over here in activist Massachusetts, where at least the majority of our politicians had the balls to stand up and deny a citizens' petition seeking to send gay marriage to the ballot box after it was legalized by "activist judges" in 2004.

Opponents call that a subversion of the democratic process in that citizens were denied the right to vote. But intelligent and rationale people know that human rights should never be decided at the ballot box!

caramama said...

Excellent points. I can't even begin to write my thoughts about this whole, insipid mess. So I will leave it to others like you.

And the title? That is perhaps my favorite quote of all time. It makes me happy to see other people use it. :-)

p.s. How are the early days of adding number 2 to the mix? I'm getting nervous as my due date is now under a month... Eek!

Aimee Greeblemonkey said...

you go dude.

the new girl said...

This totally give me a headache, yo.

The issue. Not your post.


Christy B. said...

Frustrated, embarrassed & totally confused by yesterday's decision.

I cannot fathom that ANY state in the US protects discrimination. I'm embarrassed that I have protection under our state's constitution but my neighbor who wants to marry someone of their same sex does not - huh?!

Reading this in your post though made me think:

"Proposition “To Hell With 8” in 2010, then, will not be a revision either, so it will only require a 50% majority to change the Constitution to explicitly recognize gay marriages."

Maybe the thought was to set this up for the changing tide and make it stick. While I would have been thrilled if the Court had ruled differently yesterday, I think it may have unleashed years of fighting and escalating hate mongering. Since those in favor of 8 are embracing the logic and legality of the decision, when the tide turns their argument will be null.

Maybe I'm grasping at straws for logic...

Anonymous said...

I love your website, seriously. I read it daily via my Greader

Deb said...

Your kids have such a good daddy. I have no idea how I ended up reading Neil's post before yours, but trust me, it will never happen again.

Swirl Girl said...

Those turds. Not only the court 'activists' but the religious groups that are so up in arms about this.

These groups would pay to support (her boobs) Miss California as the ideal version of what a Miss USA is about...where's my boobs, huh?? Oh yeah- they're sitting on the "high" court.

kittenpie said...

That is an interesting point youmake, there. And a federal court challenge was what ended up being the way we got same-sex marriage okay'd up here, so keep pushing, Cali.

Sarah @ said...

The decision shocked the stuffing out of me. I had such high hopes for my state and just look what we've gone and done.

I'm keeping my fingers crossed for 2010. That's for sure.

Momma Sunshine said...

Screw California! Come to Canada and marry whoever you choose! :-D

Nicolette said...

Hi! I stumbled across your blog and I was.. well.. amazed.

You see, I'm from Singapore. I'm gay. Right now, the people in my country are not even CONSIDERING allowing gay couples to get married. In fact, just last year, we had a 'Repeal 377A' thingamajig in the courts. Which disallows anal sex. One supposedly brillant woman actually said, 'anal sex is like sticking a straw up your nose'.

Recently, we had another hoopla as well.

What I'm trying to say! (Urgh I tend to talk too much sometimes!) It made me so happy seeing straight people like yourself (and many others) standing up for a 'different kind' (as we're called over here. We're also deemed to be 'sexually challenged'. Yes. I am ashamed - not of being called that, but of the people who actually coined the term). I wish we had more support from straight people over here.

That would be good.

Anyway. Your blog's great :) And not just this post.