Same-sex marriage (SSM), civil
unions, & domestic partnerships
||"If marriage means everything, it means absolutely
nothing." Dr. James C. Dobson, of Focus on the Family.
||"The extension of the Common Benefits Clause to acknowledge
plaintiffs as Vermonters who seek nothing more, nor less, than legal
protection and security for their avowed commitment to an intimate and
lasting human relationship is simply, when all is said and done, a
recognition of our common humanity." Chief Justice Jeffrey L. Amestoy, of the Vermont Supreme Court in a decision that led to the legalization of civil unions in Vermont.
||"A loving man and woman in a committed relationship can marry.
Dogs, no matter what their relationship, are not allowed to marry. How
should society treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships? As dogs
or as humans?" Posting to an Internet mailing list; used by permission
of the author.
||"... They went running down the hall of their preschool singing 'Mommy and
Mama are getting married.' And they looked at me with such happy eyes." Comment
by Beth Hillman, a professor at the University of California Hastings
College of the Law in San Francisco, CA after she told her two daughters at
school about the California Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage.
||"As California goes, so goes the nation." Ancient adage of
||Four comments on Proposition 8 that ended the right of same-sex couples to
marry on 2008-NOV-06:
||"This vote on whether we stop the gay-marriage juggernaut in California is
Armageddon," Chuck Colson, Watergate felon and founder of Prison Fellowship
||"I call upon Californians who supported Proposition 8 to make an
honest and dedicated effort to learn more about the lives and experiences of
lesbian and gay humanity whose constitutional rights are unfairly targeted
by this measure'." Episcopal Bishop J. Jon Bruno of the Diocese of
||"It's more important than the presidential
election. We will not survive [as a nation] if we lose the institution of
marriage." Tony Perkins, president of Family Research Council.
|| "It's bittersweet right now because we just watched the first
African-American president elected. We were watching it with our
African-America son, there were tears coming out of our eyes, and we went to
look at what's happening at [Proposition] 8. We're speechless right now." Jose Ronni Pahl, one of the first same-sex
spouses to be married in Santa Clara County, CA
||"Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California ... The Constitution simply does not allow for laws of this sort." Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, 2012-FEB. [The ruling is only partly correct. Prop. 8 also lessens the status and dignity of bisexuals.]
Summary of recent activity:
Same-sex marriages (SSMs) became available in California from 2008-MAY unil election day in 2008-NOV. On the latter date, Proposition 8 was narrowly passed by a public vote. It prohibits future SSMs in California. However, those SSMs solemnized between MAY and election day of 2008 remain valid.
This event is one more example for same-sex couples who want to get married. If marriage equality is achieved in your state, you might want to get married with all possible speed. There is absolutely no guarantee that this right will still be available next year, next month, or even on the next day.
The constitutionaliy of Prop. 8 is being challenged in the federal court system. Federal District Judge Vaughn Walker ruled that Proposition 8 is clearly unconstitutional on a number of grounds. The proponents of Prop. 8 are now attempting to appeal Judge Walker's ruling in the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals. The first day of hearings was Monday, 2010-DEC-06. An attempt to vacate Judge Walker's ruling because he is gay was rejected.
The California Supreme Court heard arguments on whether the official proponents of Prop. 8 -- ProtectMarriage.com -- have the legal standing to attempt to defend it. The court decided that they did. This was a critical decision because the Governor and Attorney General of California who clearly have legal standing have refused to defend Prop. 8's constitutionality.
David Boies is co-counsel in the federal case that challenges the constitutionality of Proposition 8. During 2011-OCT, he predicted that his case and one of the 12 or so lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of DOMA would probably arrive at the U.S. Supreme Court for consideration during its 2012-OCT term. He said: "I think that’s probably when both cases get there and I suspect they’ll consolidate them for argument." 1 The DOMA law overturned more than two centuries of tradition by stating that the federal government would not recognize marriages legally solemnized in states and registered there if the spouses were of the same gender.
- 2011-DEC: Both sides argued their case before the a panel of three judges at the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
- 2012-FEB: The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel ruled Proposition 8 -- the citizen intiative that terminated SSM in California -- to be unconstitutional.
- 2012-MAR: Proponents of Prop. 8 have asked that the panel's decision be reviewed by a larger panel of the 9th Circuit Appeals Court.
- 2012-JUN: Appeals Court rejects request for review, thus letting the panel's decision stand.
- 2012-AUG-01: Case appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
- 2012-DEC-07: The Supreme Court (SCOTUS) accepted the appeal.
- 2013-FEB-28: A poll showed 61% of California voters support SSM; 32% are opposed.
- 2013-MAR-13: A poll found that:
- 67% of adults in California favored the restoration of SSMs
- 30% are opposed,
- 3% didn't know or refused to answer.
- 52% want the Supreme Court to declare Prop. 8 unconstitutional
- 32% are in favor of upholding Prop. 8's constitutionality
- 17% didn't know or refused to answer. 9
The Supreme Court's review of Prop. 8 is raising considerable interest in the media. However their eventual ruling may not be very important in the long term:
- If they determine that Prop. 8 is unconsitutional, then same-sex couples would be able to marry once more in California.
- If they rule Prop. 8 to be constitutional, then a new citizen initiative will certainly be raised to repeal Prop. 8. With support for SSM among voters exceeding two out of three voters, the initiative would be certain to pass and same-sex couples would be able to marry once more.
There has been speculation that the U.S. Supreme Court might widen the scope of their ruling to legalize SSM in other states. However, many feel that this is unlikely. The court hears oral arguments on 2013-MAR-26, and is expected to issue its decision in late 2013-JUN. 2
The following topics are covered in this section:
The recognition of same-sex relationships (or lack thereof) by the government, courts and the public:
Path 1: 1999 to 2007: Unsuccessful attempts towards marriage equality through the Legislature:
||1999 - 2001: Bills AB-26 & AB-25 (Few benefits granted) and AB-1338 (Civil unions; unsuccessful).
||2003: Bill AB-205 the "Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities Act."
||2004: Marriages in San Francisco: 29 days of marriage equality.
||2004: Bill AB 1967 the "Gender-Neutral Marriage Act." (withdrawn)
||2005: Bill AB 19, the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act" (unsuccessful)
||2005: Bill AB 849, the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act." (Passed the
Senate and Assembly. Vetoed by the governor.)
||2007: Bill AB 43, the "Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act" (Passed the Senate
and Assembly. Vetoed by the governor.)
Path 2: 2004 to 2008: Temporarily successful attempt towards marriage equality through the state courts:
Path 3: 2008 to now: Proposition 8 bans SSM. Attempts to declare Prop. 8 unconstitutional
Path 4: 2010: Separating marriage into secular & religious components:
The following information source was used to prepare and update the above
essay. The hyperlink is not necessarily still active today.
- Julie Bolcer, "Cuomo Calls for End of DOMA," Advocate, 2011-OCT-28, at: http://www.advocate.com/
- "KPIX Poll: Californians Support Gay Marriage, Want Prop. 8 Overturned," KPIX-TV, 2013-MAR-25, at: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/
Copyright © 2001 to 2013 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Latest update: 2013-MAR-26
Author: B.A. Robinson