An exciting state of affairs unfold in California, as its State Supreme Court slaps down Proposition 22, determining gay Californians have a constitutional right to marry.
“History alone is not invariably an appropriate guide for determining the meaning and scope of this fundamental constitutional guarantee,” the court wrote.
“Our state now recognizes that an individual’s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individual’s sexual orientation,” the court wrote.
The state’s attorney general argued that California’s domestic-partnership law afforded the same substantive rights as marriage, but the court found the separate nomenclature risks denying same-sex couples “equal dignity and respect”.
So now a ballot measure banning recognition of same-sex marriages, passed in 2000, has been struck down as unconstitutional – is that the end of the matter? Last year the California State legislature actually passed marriage equality legislation, which was only vetoed by the Governator himself. Yet as this vote approached, so did a campaign to change the Californian State constitution again, this time banning same-sex marriage itself by constitutionally defining marriage as a heterosexual institution. Bizarre I know, but this is what the least popular president in American history tried (and failed) with the Federal Marriage Amendment in 2004. Schwarzenegger unexpectedly detached himself completely from this, which now makes his current position, in an election year, very interesting indeed.
“I think we need a constitutional amendment so that a foreign-born (person) can run for president, but not against gay marriage. That would be a total waste of time.”
And California now becomes an honest-to-goodness battleground. As Chris Crain points out California is the 8th biggest economy in the world, has 12% of the population of the US, and with its history at the forefront of civil rights politics in the US, legalisation of same-sex marriage carries enormous weight. Now that Proposition 22 has been repealed, the opponents of same-sex marriage have to fight to the finish in November; if they lose they essentially lose the argument in the United States full stop. At the same time Schwarzenegger is no longer on their side, making November a real chance at retaining full equality, as in the case of Massachusetts.