Monday, September 12, 2005

Gay Marriage in California

Here's a story I only learned about today. It's apparently not getting much coverage because of the hurricane. But BBC News picked it up.

The story is this:

Five years ago, California voters approved a proposition that states, "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognised in California." (At that time, I was thoroughly embarrassed. California is supposed to be liberal and gay-friendly.)

This year, the state representatives approved a bill that says marriage is a civil contract between "two persons". (I heard this and rejoiced, proud of my former home.)

The Governator has promised to veto the bill. (See what happens when you elect an actor?)

I am again embarrassed.


  1. If the good people of this state want gay marriages, they should vote on it. Oh, but they did and decided that they didn't want it. I think it is proper for the Gov. to reject it based on what the people of the state want. If people want gay marriages they should put another proposition up to vote instead.

  2. I'd agree with you if it were the opposite (if the new legislation were trying to stop gay marriage), but this is one of those things where people are just plain wrong. CA needs to allow gay marriage. CA wants to be part of this change, it just doesn't know it yet.

    I wonder if such a proposition would have a chance this year (taking into account the cold conservative climate as well as the poor presidential approval rating, it's hard to tell), but eventually it will happen. And I think that CA is the state to give this movement its momentum. Little states like Vermont and Hawaii can start it, but CA or NY needs to push it along.

  3. Intuitively, it makes sense to favor a clearly expressed democratic will. That's why California (and other states with a strong legacy of progressivism) have legal provisions for propositions (and the recall of governors) in the first place.

    Democracy, though, is not simply the tyranny of the majority. Since the government has previously decided to assign rights based on a legal system of marriage, denying the opportunity to assert those rights based on a protected minority position (in this case, private consentual acts protected by the Due Process clause, see Lawrence, et al, v. Texas (2003)) is, likely, a violation of minority rights.

    And minority rights trump majority will. (See the 13th, 14th, & 15th amendments for a refresher.)

    There's a reason the homosexual marriage issue has been so far successful only in the courts: it's the courts to which we make claims for our due, not to our fellow citizens.

    To get to the topic at hand, the Governator, then, is _permitted_ but not _required_ by democratic principles to sign the bill. If he does sign, the law should be contested in the courts, where it should be overturned.