Thursday, May 15, 2008

CA Marriage Equality Ruling in the News

It's been a very busy day, but before I leave to go do some celebrating, here is a quick round up of some of the who's saying what about the historic happenings here in The Great State of California today:

'This is about people and the right for people to love who they want,' Villaraigosa says in praising the ruling by the California Supreme Court, calling the high-court's decision a victory for California.

[Episcopal News Service] Integrity, an organization of Episcopalians committed to full inclusion of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender [LGBT] persons, heralded a May 15 California Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-gender marriage as "a giant step closer to 'liberty and justice for all.'"

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) was quick to issue a statement. “I respect the Court’s decision and as governor, I will uphold its ruling," he said. "Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.”

Critically, the Court emphasized at the outset that its ruling had nothing to do with the political views of the judges with regard to gay marriage, but rather, was based solely on its legal analysis of past precedent interpreting the relevant provisions of the state Constitution

This decision gives our church another opportunity to partner with our state to ensure that all families have the support they need to build relationships that strengthen our communities, state and country.

Yes: the court just ruled for it - sixty years after California's court was the first to strike down miscegenation bans. The most populous state now joins much of the rest of the Western world in bringing gay couples into the civic and human family as equals. More soon on the decision itself. One key fact: the ruling takes effect in 30 days - which means thousands of couples will be able to marry long before any initiative attempts to reverse it. So the initiative question becomes: do you want to divorce thousands of already-married couples? Or do you want to keep things as they now are? That's a big advantage for the pro-equality forces.
Finally, from my own bishop:
The Rt. Rev. J. Jon Bruno, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles, has issued the following statement concerning today's California Supreme Court decision regarding same-gender relationships:
Today's Supreme Court decision on same-gender relationships is important because it reflects our baptismal vow to "strive for justice and peace among all people and respect the dignity of every human being" and our commitment to justice and mercy for all people.
The Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles has been a leader in working for the rights of all people in the State of California, and that work is honored in today's ruling. The canons of our church, under "Rights of the Laity" (Canon 1:17.5), forbid discrimination on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, disabilities or age. We affirm equal rights for all.
We will continue to advocate for equality in the future and will do so at the General Convention of the Episcopal Church, which will meet in Anaheim in 2009.
I celebrate and give thanks for this decision of the court and look forward with joy and excitement to a future of justice and mercy for all people in the State of California and the Episcopal Church.
To paraphrase St. Paul, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, gay nor straight in Jesus Christ our Lord.
J. Jon Bruno
Bishop of Los Angeles


Jonathan said...

Six months ago I lived in a state where the church told gay people that they were destroying the unity of the communion and the government told gay people that they were 2nd class citizens.

Now I live in a state where the church is growing and healing, and where I can actually walk down to city hall and take out a marriage license (to affirm my relationship of seven years).

My my my. What a difference a day makes!

Suzer said...

I am so very happy for everyone in California, and rejoice at this decision! It is a great feeling to see justice at work, and equality winning over prejudice. I thank God that Justice and Wisdom was at work in the California Supreme Court.

Life goes on here in Georgia, though. With a constitutional amendment already enshrined here, my partner and I remain 2nd class citizens, though we dutifully pay our taxes every year. While y'all rejoice (as we do with you), please take a moment to remember those of us still struggling.

I am so, so, so thrilled for y'all! If we could afford it, we'd move to California this minute! (Don't know how I feel about the land of earthquakes, though!) :)

Rev. David Justin Lynch said...

As I lawyer, I believe the Supreme Court's legal basis for its ruling was analyically sound. It relied on standard legal concepts and reasoning. However, this is ultimately a political question because the final word rests with the voters as to the California constitution. We are guaranteed to see the right wing people engage in their usual violations of the baptismal covenant to advance their adgenda of exclusion. Ultimately the issue is going to wind up at the United States Supreme Court as a Federal constitutional issue as to whether the United States Consitution permits a State to discrimimate on the basis of sexual orienation regarding the right to marry. With Scalia, Thomas, Alitp, and Roberts, forget it. All are Republican, RC, and conservative. I think Souter, Briar, Ginsburg, Stevens and Kennedy will rule in a proper manner. Souter is one of us, Ginsburg and Briar are Jewish, Stevens is a nondescript Prot, and Kennedy is an enlightened RC who wrote the lead opinion dissing the Texas sodomy statute.

Bruce said...

The amazing thing about the opinion, much to the dismay of the religious right I'm sure, is just how conservative it is. I well remember the decisions that came out of the Rose Bird court many years ago, that frequently strained logic and common sense, but this opinion is actually a well-reasoned and rational application of precedent and the law as it exists under the California state constitution. There is no judicial innovation here, just the recognition that, under well established law, marriage is fundamental right and that for a statute abridging that right to pass constitutional muster, the government must demonstrate a compelling state interest served by that restriction.

I am certainly no fan of judges who usurp the proper function of the Legislature (the primary concern of the dissenters here), but this decision simply acknowledges that the present statutory scheme creates two systems under which the State of California recognizes this type of permanent relationship between couples, giving one the time honored and respected name of marriage and the other the sterile, bureaucratic-ese name of "domestic partnership." One is clearly preferable to the other (ask any fundamentalist which they would prefer)and under California law, at least, offering the first arrangement to one group of people while not offering it to another, violates the constitutional requirement that, for the most part, people must be treated the same.

Unknown said...

David, I don't see how this particular case gets to the U. S. Supreme Court. It seems to me that the opinion is exclusively grounded in CA law and in the CA constitution. I don't see the issue that gets it to Washington.

It is a political question, however, and that is why I am so concerned about defeating the ballot initiative, if it gets on the ballot.

Rev. David Justin Lynch said...

Here's the scenario that gets this issue in front of the US Supremes: Anti-gay-marriage initiative passes in November. Losing side brings an action in Federal District Court claiming that under the US Constitution, a ban on gay marriage violates the equal protection clause of the US Constitution. Whatever that Court decides, given the volatility of the isssue, it winds up in front of the Ninth Circuit. Again, given the passionate feelings on both sides, whatever the Ninth Circuit decides, the loser will petition for certiorari to the US Supremes. Whether or not they take the case is discretionary, but given the high visibility of the issue and the likelihood it will repeat in other states, the US Supremes will almost certainly take it. Given the present justices, everyone's right to marry will be upheld 5-4.