In a landmark decision yesterday, a federal judge overturned California's Proposition 8 - a ban on same-sex marriage - citing it as unconstitutional. So sayeth the Wall Street Journal:
U.S. Ninth District Court Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that 2008's Proposition 8 violated the constitutional guarantees to equal protection and due process because it singles out gays and lesbians for denial of a marriage license.
In his ruling, Judge Walker took issue with the argument that California voters had good reason for singling out gays when they voted for Proposition 8. "The evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples," wrote Judge Walker in a 138-page ruling.
HOWEVER!!! (And the extra exclamation marks should give some indication that this is important!) That doesn't mean that gay marriage can happen in California immediately. What actually occurred is that the judge overturned a line in the proposition that specifically states marriage is between a man and a woman. The judge is forced to hear an appeal on the matter - of course - and so nothing can be done until at least Friday.
Here's the thing: All this outrage from people who support the ban on same-sex marriage might just get marriage equality for the whole country. I know, it's sort of funny. How it may work out is that proponents of Prop 8 will appeal, and that will go to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. If they're still not happy with the decision - and I doubt they will be, as gay marriage does well in courts - then their only other recourse is to go before the Supreme Court. And...wait for it...if the Supreme Court finds that gay marriage is a constitutionally protected right, and thus denying it would be unconstitutional, then UH OH! We might have nationwide gay marriage on our hands!
I realize I'm being hopeful here, but it really isn't much of a stretch. See, this is why the Prop 8 fight was so important, because it was the fight - it had the backing on both sides - that could go this far. Nobody had pockets deep enough or enough supporters before, but this shock to the system, that California of all places could deny equality, went to the core of the struggle. It was a rallying cry. An 'Avengers Assemble' for the proponents of equality. Of course, there is dissent:
Andy Pugno, a lawyer representing the group that put Proposition 8 on the ballot, said that on appeal he thought gay marriage advocates would have a difficult time convincing the Supreme Court to overturn a law that had been voted for by more than seven million Californians.
"Federal precedent is clear that there is no constitutional right to same-sex marriage," said Mr. Pugno in a statement. "To prevail in the end, our opponents have a very difficult task of convincing the U.S. Supreme Court to abandon precedent and invent a new constitutional right."
He added that marriage "has been defined in both law and language as a union between a man and a woman, and acts as the predominate relationship in which to create and support children."
It should be noted that millions of Americans oppose same-sex marriage. But, millions of Americans oppose dumping oil into our oceans and that didn't seem to stop anybody. Millions of Americans don't like cheese, but it's on our store shelves. Millions of Americans opposed integration of the military and allowing women the right to vote, but it's there. Millions of Americans oppose all sorts of things, but it doesn't mean it's not the right thing to do. Just because you have the option of purchasing mayonnaise at the store, doesn't mean you have to get it.
In oddly-related pagan news: Apparently, the pagan blogosphere is ripe with comments on Prop 8's downfall. One blog in particular strikes my interest...again. I didn't realize the pagan community was so pro-gay. I didn't think it wasn't, but I don't ever recall - ever - seeing banners or parades or gatherings or signs or petitions or marches or television spots or pagan celebrities or...um...really any collective pagan voice out there specifically to petition for the rights of gay folks. Now, if pagans want to equate the struggle for religious equality with marriage equality, I can get behind that. But... Really? Was the pagan voice really a great champion for gay rights? There are certain sects of pagans that are sort of anti-gay, or at least aren't all "Hey, we're down with The Gay."
One commenter wrote, "Has there been anything done about this in the last four years by any pagan "organization"? If there has, I haven't seen anything." I'm not saying that many pagans aren't pleased with the ruling, but I just question how pagan-centric this battle really is. I'm gay. I'm pagan. I am proud to be both, and I champion the rights and causes of both. I also agree that many of the struggles of each are the same or similar. I just didn't know that there was some great organized pagan initiative to get gay marriage passed.
Correct me if I'm wrong.
What are YOUR thoughts? Comment, Tweet, or Email IncitingARiotPodcast@gmail.com.
Love and Lyte,