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Same-sex marriage (SSM) and
domestic partnerships in California

Activity on Proposition 8
during 2009-JAN & FEB

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2009-JAN-16: Tom Hanks shares his opinion:

At the premiere party for the HBO dramatic series "Big Love," Executive Producer Tom Hanks criticized The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) for its support for Proposition 8. This was narrowly passed by 52% of the vote and was designed to change the California state constitution to ban same-sex marriage (SSM).

He said:

"... the truth is a lot of Mormons gave a lot of money to the Church to make Prop-8 happen. There are a lot of people who feel that is un-American, and I am one of them. I do not like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper, [in] any of the 50 states in America, but here's what happens now. A little bit of light can be shed, and people can see who's responsible, and that can motivate the next go around of our self correcting Constitution, and hopefully we can move forward instead of backwards. So let's have faith in not only the American, but Californian, constitutional process." 1

Reacting to Tom Hanks' comment, Kim Farah, a spokesperson for the LDS said:

"Expressing an opinion in a free and democratic society is as American as it gets." 1

Bill McKeever, is a spokesperson for the Mormonism Research Ministry. They describe themselves as a counter-cult group: "... an evangelical Christian ministry that has been challenging the claims of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 1979." 2 He said:

"Personally, I find it un-American to tell people that they shouldn't vote their conscience. Hanks said he doesn't 'like to see any discrimination codified on any piece of paper.' Considering that just about every law discriminates in some form or another, makes this comment ridiculous. Hanks? comment shows that he very much believes in discriminating against people with whom he disagrees. I may not agree with Mormon theology, but I certainly defend their right to express their opinion." 1

Webmaster's thoughts: Both Farah and McKeever seem to interpret voting on Prop. 8 as if it were a simple sampling of public opinion: a straightforward exercise of religious freedom of expression. But it seems to be much more than a simple poll. It identifies a specific group of people -- loving committed same-sex couples -- and prevented them from marrying -- at least temporarily. That has far more impact on people's lives that simply sampling public opinion.

2009-JAN: Analysis of the Prop. 8 vote:

Patrick J. Egan of New York University and Kenneth Sherrill of Hunter College-CUNY performed a detailed analysis on the voting patterns of people on the basis of their age, race/ethnicity, political party affiliation, ideology, religion, church attendance, etc. 3

One of the most interesting of their analyses compares support for Proposition 22 in the year 2000 with Proposition 8 in 2008. This is of particular interest because the wording of the two propositions is the same.

Age in years % voting Yes on
Prop. 22 (1980)
% voting Yes on
Prop. 8 (1988)
Change (2000-2008)
18 to 29 58% 45% -13%
30 to 44 56 48 -8
45 to 64 63 47 -16
65 and over 68 67 -1

That is:

bullet Those over the age of 65 held firmly to their opinion between the two Propositions: they remained constant with about 2 out of 3 opposed to SSM.
bullet Those under the age of 65 altered their position to a major degree, shifting from being about 59% opposed to SSM in 1980 to about 53% in favor -- a change of about 12 percentage points in 8 years!

A problem facing those opposed to SSM is that only those aged 65 and over favor a ban. Their life expectancy is limited. As this contingent dies the pendulum can be expected to swing towards a majority support for SSM.

Another major effect was due to ideology. Those who identified themselves as liberal, moderate and conservative all became more supportive of SSM in the 8 years between the two Propositions. 22% of liberals, 51% of moderates and 82% of conservatives voted in favor of Prop. 8. These values are all down from those on Prop. 22.

2009-FEB-03: California Supreme Court announces date for oral arguments:

The court has decided on an expedited schedule for the challenge to Prop. 8. They agreed to hear the oral arguments on MAR-05. The court must issue its ruling within 90 days of the oral argument: i.e. 2009-MAY-04.

Equality California noted in their breaking news bulletin that:

"No other initiative has ever successfully changed the California Constitution to take away a right only from a targeted minority group. Proposition 8 passed by a bare majority of 52 percent on [2008-]November 4." 4

2009-FEB-13: Status of SR 7 and HR 5 in committee:

Senator Mark Leno is the lead author for SR 7 -- a resolution that would place the Senate on record as agreeing that Prop 8 was an improper revision to the California Constitution because it bypassed the procedure required by that Constitution. Significant changes to the constitution are called "revisions." They require two-thirds vote of the House and two-thirds vote in the Senate, followed by a vote of the public. That did not happen for Prop. 8. Equality California (EQCA) states:

"SR 7 would safeguard the integrity of our constitutionally required checks and balances and help to ensure that minority rights are not stripped away at the ballot box by a simple vote of the majority."

SR 7 was introduced on 2008-DEC-01. 5

HR 5 is a similar resolution written by Assembly Member Tom Ammiano. It was introduced to the House on 2008-DEC-02. 6

On 2009-FEB-16, EQCA, Equality Action NOW, Marriage Equality USA, and California Outreach sponsored a rally at the State Capitol in Sacramento, CA in support of these resolutions.

Equality California also sponsored a Lobby Day on FEB-17 to "... bring together diverse civil rights and faith leaders, community members and allies from across the state and a number of elected officials" in support of SR 7 and HR 5. 7

2008-FEB-17: Assembly Judiciary Committee passed House Resolution HR 5:

HR-5 passed the Assembly Judiciary Committee with a vote of 7 to 3. 8 When HR 5 and a companion Senate resolution SR 7 were introduced on 2008-DEC-02, Equality California (EQCA) Executive Director Geoff Kors said:

"Prop 8 eliminates the fundamental right to marry from same-sex couples and allows a slim majority to take away the equal protections of a single minority group, which violates one of the fundamental and founding principles of our Constitution. That type of unprecedented change to the Constitution puts the rights of all Californians at risk, and it?s critical in our system of checks and balances that the Legislature weigh in on such fundamental revisions to the Constitution."

2009-FEB-23: Sean Penn comments on Prop. 8 at Oscar telecast:

In accepting the Oscar for his portrayal of Harvey Milk in the movie "Milk," Penn stated:

"Finally, for those -- two last finallys -- For those who saw the signs of hatred as our cars drove in tonight, and, I think that it is a good time for those who voted for the ban against gay marriage to sit and reflect and anticipate their great shame and the shame in their grandchildren?s eyes if they continue that way of support. We?ve got to have equal rights for everyone."

2009-FEB-24: NAACP supports HR 5 and SR 7:

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) announced support of HR 5 and SR 7. In a press release, they stated:

"In a letter to legislative leaders, NAACP national board chair Julian Bond and President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous urged passage of House Resolution 5 and Senate Resolution 7 to put the legislature on record calling for invalidation of Prop. 8 as an improper and dangerous alteration of the California Constitution."

" 'The NAACP's mission is to help create a society where all Americans have equal protection and opportunity under the law,' said President Jealous. 'Our Mission Statement calls for the 'equality of rights of all persons.' Prop. 8 strips same-sex couples of a fundamental freedom, as defined by the California State Supreme Court. In so doing, it poses a serious threat to all Americans. Prop. 8 is a discriminatory, unprecedented change to the California Constitution that, if allowed to stand, would undermine the very purpose of a constitution and courts - assuring equal protection and opportunity for all and safeguarding minorities from the tyranny of the majority'. ..."

" 'The NAACP has long opposed any proposal that would alter the federal or state constitutions for the purpose of excluding any groups or individuals from guarantees of equal protection,' said Chairman Bond. 'We urge the legislature to declare that Proposition 8 did not follow the proper protective process and should be overturned as an invalid alteration that vitiated crucial constitutional safeguards and fundamental American values, threatening civil rights and all vulnerable minorities'." 9

2008-FEB-25: Senate Judiciary Committee passed Senate Resolution SR 7:

SR-7 passed the Senate Judiciary Committee with a 3 to 2 vote. Sen. Dean Florez (D-Fresno) had voted against the marriage bill in the past, but voted in favor of this resolution. EQCA Government Affairs Director Alice Kessler expresses her gratitude for Florez':

"... willingness to stand by us in helping to safeguard the core principle of our state constitution -- equal protections for all." 10

Related essays:

bullet Amica Curiae briefs promoting marriage equity and opposing Prop. 8

Amica Curiae briefs opposing marriage equity and supporting Prop. 8

References used:

 The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Tom Hanks Says Mormon Supporters of Proposition 8 'Un-American'." Fox News, 2009-JAN-16, at:
  2. "Mormonism Research Ministry,  "The Lost Book of Abraham," video at:
  3. Patrick J. Egan & Kenneth Sherrill, "California's Proposition 8: What Happened, and What Does the Future Hold?," National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, 2009-JAN, at: This is a PDF file.
  4. "Breaking news! California Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments in Prop 8 Legal Challenge on March 5," Equality California, 2008-FEB-03.
  5. "Fact Sheet: Resolution Urging Repeal of Proposition 8 (SR 7)," Equality California, at: This is a PDF file.
  6. "Fact Sheet: Resolution Urging Repeal of Proposition 8 (HR 5)," Equality California, at:  This is a PDF file.
  7. "Equality California to Bring Over 2,000 Californians to Sacramento for Lobby Day," Equality California, 2009-FEB-12, at:
  8. "CA HR5 Passed: Legislature?s attempt to Influence the Judiciary is a serious disregard for Separation of Powers," The Pomegranate Apple, 2009-FEB-18, at:
  9. Casey Gane-McCalla, The NAACP Supports Gay Marriage, News One for Black America, 2009-FEB-24, at:
  10. "Senate Judiciary Committee Passes Equality California-Sponsored Measure Opposing Prop. 8," Equality California, 2009-FEB-24, at:

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Copyright 2009 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Original posting: 2009-JAN-17
Latest update: 2009-MAR-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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