It’s horrifying that someone can put a measure on a ballot to take a couple’s marriage away. It’s all the more horrifying, of course, that such a measure would pass. But while the passage of California’s Proposition 8 is a dispiriting loss, the fight for human dignity is far from over.
As happily married heterosexuals, my wife Darbury and I have built a relationship, household, and family on our own terms. It’s important that the state recognizes the sanctity of a relationship, and acknowledges that it’s the spouse who clearly has authority in case a partner is unable to make decisions due to illness or worse. When San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom started marrying same-sex couples in 2004, he was only codifying their relation with the state. This did not, as the measure’s proponents asserted, constitute an assault on the institution of marriage.
The actual threat to marriage is dysfunction. The ugly face of dysfunction comes in many guises. There’s abuse (physical and mental), chemical dependency, developmental issues, and many other factors that tear marriages apart. Considering these real threats to marriage, it makes no sense to assault a healthy homosexual relationship. The passage of Prop. 8 is a classic case of the tyranny of the majority.We say justice is blind for a reason: Our basic rights are protected by the rule of law that’s rooted in our Constitution. You cannot single out a group of people and eliminate their rights with the whim of a ballot.
It’s the courts’ role to guard against tyrannical laws. The legal challenge to Prop. 8 is simple: the measure is no simple amendment, it is a revision of the California Constitution. The ballot initiative basically took equal protection out of the state constitution. It takes a vote of the legislature and the people to make such a fundamental alteration. We’ve had mangled jurisprudence in this nation, but I remain hopeful that the courts will live up to their duty, protect the individual, and overturn this ballot proposition.
I voted for Barack Obama, and last Tuesday gave me a lot to hope for. I caught on to something in his victory speech. He referred to the spirit of optimism of John F. Kennedy by stating, “It lives on in those Americans—young and old, rich and poor, black and white, Latino and Asian and Native American, gay and straight—who are tired of a politics that divides us and want to recapture the sense of common purpose...”
It was easy to sulk on election night with the news of Prop. 8. President-elect Obama gave me some solace with his acknowledgment of gay and straight. We may have lost the battle but we’re still very much in the fight.
Obama also referred to Martin Luther King and the arc of history bending toward justice. Obama’s election itself was an affirmation of that famous sentiment. We’re armed with a simple message: Love is only love no matter what your sexual orientation.