NPR logo California Supreme Court Opens Way to Gay Marriage


California Supreme Court Opens Way to Gay Marriage

Full disclosure: I care.

And now the news, from the AP: "California Supreme Court overturns voter-approved gay marriage ban, though more challenges loom."

The court published its 4-3 decision on that 2000 citizen referendum here. A key portion of the majority ruling:

[I]n contrast to earlier times, 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, and, more generally, that an individual's sexual orientation - like a person's race or gender - does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights. We therefore conclude that in view of the substance and significance of the fundamental constitutional right to form a family relationship, the California Constitution properly must be interpreted to guarantee this basic civil right to all Californians, whether gay or heterosexual, and to same-sex couples as well as to opposite-sex couples.

The ruling takes effect in 30 days. Opponents of same-sex marriage say they've collected enough signatures to place a constitutional ban on gay nuptials on the ballot in November. State officials are now reviewing the more than 1.1 million signatures submitted; of those, 694,354 must be deemed to belong to currently registered state voters.

Bonus: L.A. Times report.



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This doesn't mean we have to move to San Francisco, does it?

Sent by Sarah Goodyear | 1:25 PM | 5-15-2008

I would just like to point out that gay marriage has been legal in Massachusetts for years now, and I have not yet been forced to divorce my wife and marry a dude. So I honestly don't know what the wingnuts were complaining about.

(I used to know someone whose counter to that statement was the tired old Santorum line of "Yeah, well, what if a man wants to marry a dog, then, huh? Huh? Will that be okay with you, Mr. Librul?" To which my usual response was "Let's see that particular lobby amass enough political and social power to effect that change. Till that happens, you're gonna have to look for another strawman to throw up, I'm afraid.")

Sent by Stewart | 2:13 PM | 5-15-2008

Hooray! First Massachusetts. Now California. It's nice to hear some good news for a change from the social policy front.

@Sarah Goodyear: This doesn't mean we have to move to San Francisco, does it?

This is an interesting point. I'm wondering if the states that allow gay marriage will start to have an economic advantage over states that don't. Conservative states didn't much like casino's either, but once they got a taste of the money...

Sent by Dave Wiley | 3:14 PM | 5-15-2008

This is clearly a hugely monumental day for queer folks around the country (and world) and I certainly am excited to be around to see this happen! I hope, however, that gays will be able to transcend the typically oppressive power of marriage by making it okay for unmarried individuals and couples to gain access to the same legal protections and social respectability so often reserved for married couples. I certainly hope the new revelation of same sex marriage help improve current social attitudes towards unmarried individuals and their families. With that said, I think today is a good day to celebrate and love the people you love with all your heart!

Sent by Michael Wood | 3:35 PM | 5-15-2008

I live in MA and when the Goodridge decision enabled gay marriage, I didn't now many same-sex couples who decided to get married. A couple said they didn't see much economic advantage because it still wouldn't be recognized at the federal level and they'd still have to file as single with the IRS.

The CA news is great, I am very happy about it, but we still have a long way to go.

Sent by Maura | 3:38 PM | 5-15-2008

way to go cal...this is a serious question...why is it that so many progressive, open minded people live on or near the coasts...east meets west...and perhaps with a stop over in chicago!

Sent by jan | 5:06 PM | 5-15-2008

Very exciting :) and a great article, Laura. I linked to it on my Livejournal.

Sent by Sarah Lee | 5:37 PM | 5-15-2008

This is one of those issues where the two sides not only are not talking to one another but are using different definitions of the same terms as though the other side is misusing the other.

For defenders of the sanctity of marriage like myself (@Laura Conaway, I have no desire to fire anything at you, as it were), the term marriage is not a common law contractual obligation where the government acts as a disinterested third-party at worst and doler of matrimonial prizes at best. We see marriage as a vocation, and, in that sense, there is an aspect of the holy. Much as I love my homosexual brothers and sisters, I don't see that kind of vocation open to them. That doesn't make them bad people: I know many, many, good people who have not and never will be married (we had one visiting us recently from Rome, if I remember correctly).

Beside which, the other side's definition of marriage fits more into another term: power of attorney. I know, it's not a very romantic idea, but, maybe, in the signing ceremony, it can get dolled up. In any event, people, both romantically and platonically involved, gay and straight, have signed powers of attorney with the same end results as though they were married without anyone from my side of the sanctity of marriage debate (including myself) crying in our respective beers about the desecration of the state of marriage (such as it is, anyway, with people like Donald Trump and Liz Taylor stinking it up all on their own).

At the end of the day, I wish the government wasn't even in the marriage business. I blame the Puritans, because they removed marriage as a sacrament. I wish it was the government just taking the word of whatever house of worship you say you're a member of which says that you're married and leaving it at that --kind of like Isreal. That Puritanical horse has left the stable, unfortunately.

Sent by Matthew Scallon | 7:17 PM | 5-15-2008

An attack on one form of groundless discrimination is an attack on all of them. This is a good day for Civil Rights.
--Sociology of Human Sexuality Instructor, West Valley College

Sent by Tom D. | 6:28 AM | 5-16-2008

Matthew Scallion's comment is unfortunately representative of how many people misunderstand gay relationships. Homosexuals feel the exact same love as heterosexuals do; they feel their unions are as "holy," spiritual, or profound as those of heterosexuals. Many churches don't recognize gay unions as holy, but some do. To deem gay unions unholy and homosexuals unsuitable for the vocation of marriage, is to impose a specific religious belief on a nation with no specific religious allegiance. He is furthermore incorrect in believing that power of attorney will grant homosexuals equal rights. For example, if a homosexual falls in love with a foreign national, their relationship holds no standing in helping to bring that person into the US. I've known many homosexuals whose relationships have fallen apart because they've been separated from their spouses by national boundaries. He may love his homosexual brothers and sisters, but his beliefs and the policies they promote damage homosexuals and their relationships.

Sent by Eric Y. | 10:02 AM | 5-19-2008