July 6, 2006

California Marriage: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Hatched by Dafydd

California is often so far ahead of the rest of the country, we may as well be on another planet. Fortunately, we're usually not the bellwether.

(Curiously, twenty years ago, I wouldn't have characterized that as "fortunate." But that was then, this is now: twenty years ago, California was at least planted on one of the inner planets fairly near Earth's orbit... not the frozen gas giant we evidently orbit today.)

The "far-out"-ness of my home state is especially true anent same-sex marriage... though at least this time, we're not the Judas goat: that "honor" falls to Massachusetts, still the only state actually to enact same-sex marriage -- albeit at judicial gunpoint.

Still, California's liberal legislators are itching so hard to foist "gay marriage" upon us that I'm taking up a collection to buy the state legislature a gigantic vat of Calamine lotion. They tried once already last September, notwithstanding California's Proposition 22, enacted overwhelming in 2000 (61% to 38%), which restricts marriage to a union between one man and one woman.

But now, a state judge has ruled that Prop. 22 is unconstitutional, and the appellate courts -- and possibly the California Supreme Court -- may uphold that ruling. To that end, a couple of different groups are circulating petitions for initiative constitutional amendments to define marriage as one-man, one-woman; it would take a constitutional amendment actually to protect traditional marriage from the rampaging Democrats in this state.

Note that I do not argue the case for traditional marriage or against same-sex marriage in this post; the case is assumed. I've argued it before -- for example, in a column here, and in this blog in The Mythical Three, With This Ring I Y'All Wed, and The Value of Uniqueness -- and will do so again.

But this post is solely about the Machiavellian matrimonial machinations and madness currently sweeping the state: the good (and personal), the bad (and judicial), and the ugly (very legislative).

So abandon all hope, ye who enter here. Slither on, dude...

The Good

First the unalloyed good news (without even Sergio Leone's question mark), which is probably of only the most academic interest to the rest of you: my sister Julie is getting married on Saturday. Three cheers! Mazel-tov! (And about time!) She's marrying her long-term boyfriend Aaron; and of course Sachi and I will be in the wedding party.

For some reason, Julie turned down my offer to be a bouncer at the wedding; but I'll be doing something, I suppose. Sachi won't be a bridesmaid; she has some other role, but we won't be enlightened what either of our tasks will be until the rehearsal tomorrow night.

The Bad

Almost four months ago, on March 14th, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer gave his ruling in the case Woo v. Lockyer, overturning California's Proposition 22:

On March 14, 2005, Judge Richard Kramer of the Superior Court for San Francisco County, in a decision on six consolidated cases, ruled unconstitutional the two sections of California’s Family Code (sections 300 and 308.5) barring same-sex couples from access to marriage. Judge Kramer based his decision on the equal protection clause of the California constitution, concluding that California’s prohibition on marriage for same-sex couples failed to survive rational basis review, the test of legislation most deferential to the state. Furthermore, he concluded that the marriage law was subject to, and failed, the strict scrutiny test because it involved a “suspect classification,” namely gender, and a fundamental right under the California constitution, the right to marry.

The case was appealed to the Court of Appeals, First District, in San Francisco, where it's supposed to be argued on July 10th. Judge Kramer's ruling is stayed pending the appeal, of course. If the appeal fails and the ruling is upheld, then presumably the state Supreme Court will hear arguments next year (I cannot imagine they would refuse). But both the appellate court and, to a lesser extent, the state Supreme Court are liberal -- and it's entirely possible that Prop. 22 will be struck down.

Après ça, le déluge. The state legislature already passed a same-sex marriage bill in September, 2005, which was vetoed by Gov. Schwarzenegger precisely because it flew in the face of Prop. 22; if the latter were struck down, the legislature would immediately act to pass the same bill again... and this time, especially if it were after the November election, Schwarzenegger would have no reason not to sign it (he personally favors civil unions but hasn't really said what he thinks about same-sex marriage).

Thus, if Prop. 22 is struck down and not replaced by a stronger initiative constitional amendment, Californians will wake up to having become the second state to have legal same-sex marriage (the first to do so without being forced)... and likely very quickly also polygamy, as the same proposition banned both -- and as most of the lefty activists advocating "gay marriage" also agitate for polygamy and group marriage. If Judge Kramer isn't willing to so rule, some other, even more liberal San Francisco judge will be found; it's not hard.

Traditional marriage in California is at grave risk... and nobody on the Left is paying any attention to what the citizens themselves want (now, there's a shock).

Interestingly, on the larger canvas, two states, New York and Georgia, dealt a blow today to supporters of same-sex marriage and other weird variants:

Activists had hoped to widen marriage rights for gays and lesbians beyond Massachusetts with a legal victory in liberal New York, but the Court of Appeals ruled 4-2 that the state's law allowing marriage only between a man and a woman was constitutional....

In Georgia, where three-quarters of voters approved a ban on gay marriage when it was on the ballot in 2004, the top court reinstated the ban Thursday, ruling unanimously that it did not violate the state's single-subject rule for ballot measures. Lawyers for the plaintiffs had argued that the ballot language was misleading, asking voters to decide on same-sex marriage and civil unions, separate issues about which many people had different opinions.

Excuse me... can we borrow the New York or Georgia courts, please?

The Ugly

Given the concerted attempts to subvert the will of California citizens and voters by ramming same-sex marriage down our throats, in spite of the overwhelming vote against it in the 2000 initiative statute Proposition 22 (it won by nearly 23%), it's not surprising that those of us who strongly support traditional marriage and vehemently oppose same-sex marriage (as well as "domestic partnership" laws that are marriage in all but name) want to put another initiative on the ballot... but this time as a constitutional amendment, so a San Francisco judge cannot simply brush it aside.

(It didn't occur to anyone in 2000 that an amendment that read, in its entirety, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," was in danger of being declared unconstitutional.)

The initiative process, however, is about as ugly as they come. All it takes is a few signatures -- 598,105 -- by an arbitrary deadline, after first crashing through the thicket of court rulings designed to prevent citizens from horning in on the parade of professional legislators.

The high signature threshold itself requires that any petition be backed by substantial money to hire professional signature gatherers... and that's just to get it on the ballot. Once there, millions will be required to pay for commercial advertising for traditional marriage; otherwise, the Democrats will redefine it into oblivion. (Did you know that anyone who supports traditional marriage hates gays, wants to restore the ban on interracial marriage, and engages in ritual human sacrifice?)

Despite the danger and despair, there actually is a ballot initiative circulating that would do just that. Unfortunately, there is also another ballot initiative circulating that would also do just that, and the authors appear to be quite unfriendly towards each other.

One group, Vote Yes Marriage, is led by Larry Bowler, Ed Hernandez and Randy Thomasson; their website is Vote Yes Marriage. The other, Protect Marriage, is led by Ivan Megediuk, Nikolay Bugriyev and Richard N. Otterstad, Jr.; they can be found at Protect Marriage... however, the front page hasn't been updated since January (!), so I'm not sure what their status is.

There is a tussle going on between these two groups. The Protect Marriage initiative favors using very simple language in their proposed amendment:

A marriage between a man and a woman is the only legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.

This is simple and easy to understand and very likely to get overwhelming approval from the voters. However, the Vote Yes Marriage campaign worries that it will be pecked to death by the ducks of the California judiciary, trying to find loopholes; they favor a more legalistic and complicated version:

Only marriage between one man and one woman is valid or recognized in California, whether contracted in this state or elsewhere. Neither the Legislature nor any court, government institution, government agency, initiative statute, local government, or government official shall abolish the civil institution of marriage between one man and one woman, or require private entities to offer or provide rights, incidents, or benefits of marriage to unmarried individuals, or bestow statutory rights, incidents, or employee benefits of marriage on unmarried individuals. Any public act, record, or judicial proceeding, from within this state or another jurisdiction, that violates this section is void and unenforceable.

Both initiatives would ban not only same-sex or polygamous marriage but also overturn California's civil-union law, which is basically marriage in all but name. I would certainly actively support and campaign for either or both. (If both pass on the same ballot, then the one with larger number of votes prevails.)

But I'm torn which is the better; there is no question in my mind that the first, shorter version is more likely to pass. But I agree with Vote Yes Marriage that it's also more likely to be twisted into a pretzel by the California courts. What I hope is that both campaigns combine and offer both propositions on the ballot: let the people decide by voting.

According to the website of California's Secretary of State Bruce McPherson (a liberal-to-moderate Republican), the long-form version by Vote Yes America failed to get on the ballot for the 2006 general election in November.

Daniel Weintraub of the Sacramento Bee (and the excellent Bee-blog California Insider) tells me via e-mail that it failed because of insufficient signatures... which makes me believe it's having money problems, possibly because of the kerfuffle with Protect Marriage. There are certainly enough supporters that they should have been able to clear the 600,000-signature hurdle.

Vote Yes Marriage is circulating another petition to get it on the ballot for 2008, for which the deadline is listed as November 27th.

Protect Marriage is also circulating a petition on their own short-form amendment for the 2008 election; their deadline is August 21st.

2008 is actually a better year than 2006 would have been: the appellate court should rule on Judge Kramer's challenge to Prop. 22 by early October (90 days after they hear oral arguments on July 10th, assuming that isn't delayed). If they strike 22 down, then the California Supreme Court will probably take up the appeal and rule either in late 2007 or early 2008. Thus, the insane California legislature could not pass a same-sex marriage bill until then; and we would know before the 2008 election whether or not the California government still believed in real marriage.

Prospects for passage -- if proponents can ever get either iniative on the ballot -- are good: even the Field Poll finds support for traditional marriage strong, with 51% opposing same-sex marriage to 43% supporting it, unchanged from 2004 and 2003.

This would undoubtedly rise if the courts struck down Prop. 22: everyone who voted for it back in 2000 will be even more determined to do so again, since they would feel the courts had just backhanded them in the mouth.

(Note that the Field Poll also notoriously underreports support for traditional marriage; in 2000, just before the election, the Field Poll found 54% of likely California voters supporting Prop. 22; a week later, it was passed 61.4% to 38.6%.)

Interestingly enough, the same Field Poll found 50% oppose amending the U.S. Constitution to define marriage as one man-one woman (40% support). While this may seem like a dichotomy, it's actually in line with other polls: according to Polling Report (ignore the first poll, which is about flag burning and mistakenly put in the wrong category), most Americans -- myself included -- believe the question of same-sex marriage should be decided by the states, not by the federal government.

And on the state level, we proponents of traditional marriage are winning big time. Initiatives defining marriage as one-man-one-woman have passed in every, single election they've been offered, in every state that has ever allowed its citizens to vote, from the deep South to Oregon to Michigan to the Midwest; no state's voters have ever rejected such a referendum: we're twenty for twenty.

The only two state legislatures that have ever voted for same-sex marriage are Massachusetts (which was responding to a direct order from the Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts) and California (which has no excuse, but which was at least vetoed by the governor).

Currently 20 states define marriage traditionally in their state constitutions (by referendum), while 43 do so in statutory language (mostly overlap, since we don't have 63 states). Only five states "do not have statutory or constitutional language preserving the traditional understanding of marriage": Connectucut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New Mexico, Rhode Island. (The Heritage Foundation says six, but that's because they were including New York... whose appellate court just upheld the state's marriage definition.)

In addition, initiative constitutional amendments are on the November ballot in six states and pending in an additional five, while legislation is pending in the state houses of six states.

The End -- At Long Last!

So that's the good about traditional marriage and the bad and ugly about same-sex marriage in California: if the two petition-circulating groups -- Vote Yes Marriage and Protect Marriage -- can get their acts together (literally) and get something on the ballot, it will pass. But this may be after Proposition 22 is struck down and the legislature rushes to legalize same-sex marriage in early 2008.

And this would be a tragedy... not because it would stand; it won't. With that spur, either of the initiatives would pass by 65%. But it would be a tragedy to those poor souls who actually believe that the liberals in the Assembly and state Senate care a snap about them -- other than as a stick to bash Republicans. Many gay couples would rejoice at the law and rush to get married, only to see their marriages annulled just a few months later.

That will likely embitter and enrage them, and it would set back a gay-rights agenda by years... which of course is exactly what the Democrats want. They revel in hatred, anger, and despair, because that plays into their divisive campaign strategy.

Liberal Democrats believe that all permanently aggrieved minorities who feel "disenfranchised" will automatically vote for the Democrats. Enacting same-sex marriage will give nothing to gays but heartache; but it will scrape up a few more hopeless, bitter-end Democrats, so it's a good thing.

(Note that I support gay rights, such as the Supreme Court striking down "sodomy" laws in Lawrence v. Texas; but I argue that legal marriage is not a right but an acclamation that cannot be forced.)

But in the end, the people will have the last word... unless the California Supreme Court finds a way to find the California constitution itself unconstitutional.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, July 6, 2006, at the time of 5:58 PM

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Comments

The following hissed in response by: MTF

Maybe the real need Californians have is to extend judicial elections right up to the top.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2006 6:03 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman

California is often so far ahead of the rest of the country, we may as well be on another planet. Fortunately, we're usually not the bellwether

My first trip to Russia, I was talking to a young boy about 14 he made the statement

Hollywood is the Cultural Center of America

I replied. "They like to think so Sasha, and-- we try not to confuse them."

The above hissed in response by: Dan Kauffman [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 6, 2006 10:17 PM

The following hissed in response by: Big D

You know, I see the same thing happening here that I saw with abortion. Namely what cannot be achieved through the legislative or executive branches must be achieved through the judiciary.

Whatever your views, winning via the judiciary is almost always a disaster, since "a government by the people and for the people" is being hijacked by an unelected elite.

Why don't the supporters of gay marriage take the longer, but more noble road? The road of convincing the rest of us that they should have and gay marriage? Try passing it legislatively. If it fails then calmly try to pursued the legislators and the public that it is a good idea. Convince me that marriage won't be somehow cheapened by extending this franchise to same sex couples.

Ah, but they want gay marriage and they want it now, even if they have to steal it!

The above hissed in response by: Big D [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 7, 2006 9:37 AM

The following hissed in response by: Minority

Quotes and Responses:

1."Californians will wake up to having become the second state to have legal same-sex marriage (the first to do so without being forced)... and likely very quickly also polygamy, as the same proposition banned both -- and as most of the lefty activists advocating "gay marriage" also agitate for polygamy and group marriage."
- What does same sex marriage have to do with polygamy? If I were to humor this statement I could always argue that polygamy takes place most of the time with one male and various females all subject to the male. So, we should ban marriage between a man and a woman, am I right? Yes, since that'll "get rid of" polygamy and marriage is not a right as stated elsewhere in this. Hmm...

2."Traditional marriage in California is at grave risk... and nobody on the Left is paying any attention to what the citizens themselves want (now, there's a shock)."
-Ok, so homosexuals aren't citizens now? Did I miss something here? (I'm messin' with you here because of your wording, calm down) How does another persons marriage effect your own? How does another persons happiness take away from yours? I can picture it now. *you're married and protest against gay marriage and win "yes, now my marriage is safe....wait, where are you going honey? Honey!" and your partner leaves you* Wow, good job saving marriage. ;)

3."(It didn't occur to anyone in 2000 that an amendment that read, in its entirety, "Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California," was in danger of being declared unconstitutional.)"
-Well...because it IS unconstitutional. It wasn't always contitutional and that portion you mentioned isn't either. For example, earlier, African Americans were only counted as 3/5 of a person if they voted. (not that their votes were guarenteed to be counted anyway)

4."The high signature threshold itself requires that any petition be backed by substantial money to hire professional signature gatherers... and that's just to get it on the ballot. Once there, millions will be required to pay for commercial advertising for traditional marriage; otherwise, the Democrats will redefine it into oblivion."
-And the petition for the "Protect Marriage Amendment" and other things like that doesn't cost money? Hah, as I hear most of the time with those supporting the war, "freedom don't come free". Equallity, to me, is worth fighting for.

5."This is simple and easy to understand and very likely to get overwhelming approval from the voters. However, the Vote Yes Marriage campaign worries that it will be pecked to death by the ducks of the California judiciary, trying to find loopholes; they favor a more legalistic and complicated version:"
- Yes, even though it's unconstitutional the shorter version should be established...wait, that's not right. Oh, they'll find loopholes...that tends to happen when things are NOT CONSTITUTIONAL!

6. "Many gay couples would rejoice at the law and rush to get married, only to see their marriages annulled just a few months later."
-Haha, it's not like straight people don't do that. A famous marriage as an example would be Britney Spears 55 hour "just for fun" marriage. Only...straight people that get it annulled don't have the excuse that it's new to them. Gay marriage is not only beneficial but also common sense morally correct. Gay couples sometimes wait years and years intending to be together always...yet are denied marriage even when by then they're in their 60's. (was an actual marriage of 2 men in Mass.)

7."That will likely embitter and enrage them, and it would set back a gay-rights agenda by years... which of course is exactly what the Democrats want."
-*ahem* alright, so we have to settle then without equal human rights? (not saying marrying our pets or having polygamy) We got the right to get married...why would we be angry? Why would we blame others (like people like you do) for our marriage failures? :)

8."Enacting same-sex marriage will give nothing to gays but heartache; but it will scrape up a few more hopeless, bitter-end Democrats, so it's a good thing."
-It will give us equallity, the right to marry the one we love/have loved for many years, give us some marriage benefits some of straight people take for granted, possibly not be denied buying a home together, be able to see each other in the emergency room because we are considered family. Just to name a few things. There's over a thousand benefits, literally. By the way, with Civil Unions it just not enough. It's like comparing granite with a diamond...just not the real thing. Who says we don't have heartache already? We have relationships too, we break up and have all the problems heterosexual relationships have. We have heartache NOW because we CAN'T marry.

9."(Note that I support gay rights, such as the Supreme Court striking down "sodomy" laws in Lawrence v. Texas; but I argue that legal marriage is not a right but an acclamation that cannot be forced.)"
- Note that I am lesbian and can tell you're striaght, and don't have children most likely or at least not ones that came out. I can tell this because you're so ignorant to simply human feelings and human rights. You don't understand us and you don't honestly try to. I support equallity and the fairness of the constitution...how about you? It appears not so. But it's okay, as some nice people say about not having anything against homosexuals as a whole,I can say I don't have anything against heterosexuals. ;) It would be a much different arguement if the tables were turned and heterosexuallity was the minority.

I doubt you'll have the guts to post this but you'll know in your heart, when you choose to use it,what happened in this response. If you want to reply to me and can't here for one reason or another, contact me at [URL omitted].

p.s. pardon me if I was too...rude and attacking. It's a sensitive subject to me and it's difficult to understand...why in the world is gay marriage bad?
take care,
Cheyanne -15yrs

[Big Lizards does not consider it appropriate for minors to post their website URLs on this blog. -- the Mgt.]

The above hissed in response by: Minority [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2006 7:44 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Minority:

First, as you've probably figured out by now, I don't censor comments unless they violate the comments policy.

Second, for responses to all the arguments in favor of same-sex marriage you raised here, I refer you to the four links in paragraph 6 of this post.

Third, I truly believe you're capable of being brigher than this. Patience is a virtue: read carefully and actually think about the arguments against your position, and don't respond until you really understand what you're responding to.

If you fire off an instant response, like you're in a chat room, you miss most of what other people have to say... and therefore, you're simply not persuasive.

Finally, if you actually believe that Article I, section 2, paragraph 3 of the United States Constitution -- the "three fifths" rule -- means this:

For example, earlier, African Americans were only counted as 3/5 of a person if they voted. (not that their votes were guarenteed to be counted anyway)

...then I suggest you sue the teachers at that public school you attended (just an educated guess) who "taught" you American history. The cause of action is fraud.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at July 9, 2006 9:32 PM

The following hissed in response by: Kaitlin

Not voting yes on Proposition 8 causes many problems. When it has to be taught in the schools our children attend then it confuses the child. They may wonder "which parent doesn't matter, a mom or a dad?" If they are taught and participate in the alternate lifestyle either against their parents' will or without their knowledge, what keeps a little boy deciding to change his gender that day allowing him to go into the girls' bathroom?
If a man is bisexual, would the future permit him to marry a man AND a woman? And then if he is allowed to do that, then way not make it constitutional to allow a man to marry multiple women? Why not allow polygamy?
If any two persons can get married, why can't I marry my uncle, my brother, my dad?? I love each of them and would die for any of them, but that doesn't mean I can marry them... What keeps a father from marrying his 2 year old daughter?
By not voting yes on Proposition 8, there are many other unethical laws that could be passed in the future.

The above hissed in response by: Kaitlin [TypeKey Profile Page] at September 14, 2008 9:00 PM

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