Thursday, May 15, 2008

California and Gay Marriage

So news broke today that the California State Supreme Court has overturned the state's definition of marriage as between one man and one woman as being unconstitutional by a 4-3 vote. OF COURSE I have something to say about this, but who knows, maybe I'll surprise someone with what I say...

It goes without saying that I'm disappointed with, but not at all surprised by this decision. This has been the argument not only for states passing their own constitutional amendments, but for passing a federal constitutional amendment as well. California banned gay marriages- and the recognition of gay marriages performed elsewhere- by virtue of a 2000 vote in which some 61% of the voters approved a measure which defined marriage as between one man and one woman. Ohio has a similar law, but ours is a constitutional amendment approved in 2004; so the only thing that can supercede that would be a federal constitutional amendment or a U.S. Supreme Court decision.

As for this specific ruling, of course gays began to celebrate and party all over the country, but especially in California, which has a significant gay population. I can't say I blame them for being excited, even though it's an outcome I don't particularly care for. Unfortunately, this is hardly the end, and I don't say that as a "defiant conservative," but rather as someone who always tries to keep a level head and a realistic view of things. First, even if there were no other opposition to the ruling, it takes 30 days for judges' rulings to take effect in California, so the earliest the first gay marriages can happen is in mid June. Of course we all know there is opposition, though it seems unlikely that there will be any more court battles. From what I read, there are opportunities for the opposition, conservatives in this case, to ask for a stay on the decision or for the court to reconsider. I really doubt the court would reconsider based on the wording of their verdict and a stay also seems unlikely, even with the pending constitutional amendment coming up. That leads into the next item, the expected California amendment. Sometime next month we will find out if supporters were able to obtain enough signatures to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot which would define marriage as between one man and one woman. Because it would be a constitutional amendment, it would override the recent court decision. If it does get on the ballot, it will most certainly be hotly contested and close and will probably get a lot of people to the polls that normally wouldn't vote. From what I've read, both sides seem pretty confident they can win, so I guess we'll see. Of course there is also the possibility of an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, but I don't see that happening. I don't think the U.S. Supreme Court would take the case at all because they would cite the fact that marriage is not listed as a federal responsibility in the U.S. constitution (10th amendment), so it is delegated to the states and therefore they have no jurisdiction over how to define it. Indeed, that's been the argument over a federal constituional amendment; that the issue should be decided by the states. Well, we're getting that and what we're getting is marriages that are recognized by some, but not all, of the states, even though we're all in the same country.

My personal opinion is that marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. The minute you start redefining it, you open the door to any other "definition." What's to stop supporters of polygamy (not only more than one wife, but more than one husband), or group marriage, or even close-relative marriage? If you say that barring two people of the same sex from "marrying" is discriminatory, how is barring a woman from marrying a man who is already married not discriminatory? What if that woman is really poor and the man can take care of her? What if the first wife is OK with it? I really don't see how one can be defended and one cannot, and no, I would rather not see a return to legal polygamy even as a Mormon! Some say I'm just "overreacting" but really, what is to stop any other group who is "denied" marriage from seeking the same rights, no matter how "disgusting" or outlandish we think the idea is (remember, a lot of people think two people of the same sex getting married is "disgusting."). Really, the bottom line in my belief is that I believe God himself has defined marriage, not only through the Bible, but also in the Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and most importantly living prophets. That's not to say God hates gays because he does not; they are also his children who he cares about and loves. But any parent will agree that just because you love a child, that doesn't translate into you being "OK" with whatever they do; you have expectations and hopes even for adult children. I don't hate gay people...I have several friends who are gay, so I have some sort of understanding that it's not simply a "choice" to be gay. But in the end, how we act or don't act on our urges and wants is our choice, whether gay or straight, and we are accountable for our actions.

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