Thursday, November 06, 2008

In mourning for civil rights


I have always believed that California is the place where hippies and liberals go when we die. Now my dream is shattered.

California has passed Proposition 8, which invalidates gay marriage. This is like taking the vote away from women, or re-instituting slavery, or outlawing racially mixed marriages.

The reasoning behind this Proposition is purely religious. Now, theology has a tendency to change over time to catch up with enlightened thought so there is hope for the future. The problem is that religious change happens on a geological timescale and meanwhile happily married couples are left in limbo with their marriages suddenly invalidated.

In the UK we got around the religious issue by having "civil partnerships" for gay people which are marriages in all but name. I would like to see this extended to everyone so that it is only religious ceremonies that are "marriages". That way gay partnerships would not be singled out as different from any others and believers could take their stand on the validity of gay marriage without imposing their beliefs on the rest of us.

I hope that this Proposition is overturned soon. Meanwhile, I watch the situation in California with horror.

10 COMMENTS:

freddie said...

From what I understand, the fight over Proposition 8 is not over. Here's a link to the story: http://www.sacbee.com/1089/story/1371978.html

fairyhedgehog said...

I think that most people believe that it is now a foregone conclusion. This is one of those cases where I'd love to be proved wrong.

pjd said...

Well written, FH, and as I'm sure you already know, I agree with you.

I am not one of those who hopes a court challenge could overturn Prop 8. I don't see much success in arguing that the state constitution is itself unconstitutional.

But I do foresee protracted legal struggles to eliminate marriage as a state recognized institution, replacing it with civil union or civil partnership or family partnership or whatever you want to call it. In a supreme twist of irony, eventually this proposition, the proposition to "protect marriage," may in fact eliminate it altogether. You can't declare the constitution unconstitutional, but by defining marriage as restrictive they've made marriage itself discriminatory against a protected class.

fairyhedgehog said...

In a supreme twist of irony, eventually this proposition, the proposition to "protect marriage," may in fact eliminate it altogether.

That is truly ironic. I think that separating religion from secular life has to be the way to go, although it always seems odd to me that here in UK, where the Queen is head of the government and the church, there is far less influence of religion on public life than in US. I don't believe it's cause and effect though.

Sarah Laurenson said...

And that is exactly where this issue should go. With civil unions being the contract law of 'marriage' and then churches left to decide who they wish to marry but that ceremony has no legal standing.

This protects traditional marriage in the church and separates the contract law that the state affords to couples - no matter what their race or gender.

One of the suits here is saying that because of the equal protection status, if gay couples cannot get a marriage license, then no couples should get one.

But really, there already exists a bizarre administrative nightmare with some gay couples married in a state that no longer recognizes the right of gays to marry. When it comes time to file our taxes, we will leave them in the capable hands of my accountant who then has to figure out if we can file as a married couple (which will actually cost us more money) or if we're back to being 2 individuals legally. And our married staus is in legal limbo until a test case runs through the courts.

Can you also imagine the headache it will be to have to check if a person's marriage was before the election or not. And what about those that were filed right at the time of the election? The final paperwork goes through the mail and they could conceivably get a marriage license to process the day the proposition took effect, but the people were married before that day.

And Newsom is still issuing licenses in SF until someone legally makes him stop. Another set of legal limbo marriages that have a different status than ours.

The worms are long out of that can and there's a lot that would have to be done to clean them up again.

fairyhedgehog said...

And that is exactly where this issue should go. With civil unions being the contract law of 'marriage' and then churches left to decide who they wish to marry but that ceremony has no legal standing.

In complete agreement with you here.

The Dotterel said...

And now there's another 'Anglican' diocese in the States breaking away because they can't hack the concept 'all are equal in the eyes of God'.

fairyhedgehog said...

I didn't see that. It is sad, but as long as religious people only enforce their views on others of the same faith at least the damage is limited.

Scott from Oregon said...

Actually, I think the hippies die in Southern Oregon.

It's cheaper here.

fairyhedgehog said...

I was thinking more of after they die.

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