We had hoped never to have to write this note.
Sadly, fueled by misinformation, distortions and lies, millions of voters went to the polls yesterday and said YES to bigotry, YES to discrimination, YES to second-class status for same-sex couples.
And while the election was close, and millions of votes still remain uncounted, is has become apparent that we lost.
There is no question this defeat is hard.
Thousands of people have poured their talents, their time, their resources and their hearts into this struggle for freedom and this fight to have their relationships treated equally. Much has been sacrificed in this struggle.
While we knew the odds for success were not with us, we believed Californians could be the first in the nation to defeat the injustice of discriminatory measures like Proposition 8.
In response the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal and the National Center for Lesbian Rights petitioned the same Californian Supreme Court which legalised same-sex marriage in the first place to invalidate Proposition 8:
The petition charges that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group—lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. According to the California Constitution, such radical changes to the organizing principles of state government cannot be made by simple majority vote through the initiative process, but instead must, at a minimum, go through the state legislature first.
Given that the last California state legislature actually passed legislation in support of gay marriage (only to be vetoed by the Governator), I suspect it’s very unlikely indeed that the incoming body would itself begin to amend the state constitution, if the issue is indeed passed to them by a future ruling from the Supreme Court. We can only hope. Yes on 8 supporters meanwhile continue to put forward lies to justify their bigotry:
“Proposition 8 has always been about restoring the traditional definition of marriage,” said Ron Prentice, chairman of Protect Marriage. “It doesn’t discriminate or take rights away from anyone. Gay and lesbian domestic partnerships will continue to enjoy the same legal rights as married spouses.”
Prop 8 supporters argued that the traditional family was under threat, that children would be indoctrinated to accept gay marriage, and that churches would be sanctioned for refusing to perform same-sex unions.
Every single claim in that piece is an outright lie. But it should be noted that the No On 8 campaign wasn’t helped by San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who told voters they’d get same-sex marriage whether they liked it or not, nor by the campaign starting complacently and rarely engaging with the problems their opponents had with same-sex marriage (and still do). In the end they were outmanoevered by the Mormon Church, whose intervention was crucial in the passing of Prop 8, they weren’t helped by a turnout for Obama which perversely favoured Prop 8 opponents, nor by the scale of Barack Obama’s victory becoming apparent hours before polls closed in California, encouraging many otherwise opponents of Prop 8 not to cast their ballots at all.
It’s possible that the legal challenges will ultimately be successful – time will tell – but in the meantime people have had their rights stripped away and are hurt. There is nothing which can morally legitimise that.