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CA Supreme Court decision

I pretty much expected it. I was ready for it. This is what I told myself last night, when I finally went to sleep.

But I am thoroughly depressed by what I, in theory, expected, so obviously I had silently hoped for a different result. I don't live in the US, and I don't live in CA. I live in Ontario, in Canada, where gay marriage is a simple fact of both law and daily life. Prior to the advent of legal marriage for gays, I knew a number of people whose SO's were in the hospital dying of AIDS -- and who were denied the ability to be with their SO's in their last days because of the narrow-minded and ultimately evil (really, truly, imho) decisions of the rest of their family, even though, right up until the point that hospitalization was required, they were the ones who were physically caring for them -- a right that could not be denied a legal spouse.

Pointing to the ways in which a "separate but equal" commitment does not detract from daily life misses that single point. Think about it: If your SO's mother is denying you all access to her son because you aren't kin, how exactly, in CA, are you going to prove that you have the right to access? What are you going to say to the hospital staff? You can argue that you are, in fact, legally entitled to visit and to be there -- but what are you pulling out of your pockets to drop on the staff's desk? When you are already reeling in shock and pain, how are you building up your bureaucratic arsenal to be there to comfort the dying -- and to gain, for yourself, possibly the last hours you will ever have with the living?

No cut-tags here, because, honestly? CA, I do not get it. I understand the ways in which the Supreme Court was hampered -- but they should never have been hampered that way in the first place. To those who voted for prop 8: I don't understand your fear. I don't understand your bigotry. I don't understand your hatred. No one is telling you what to do. No one is telling you who to marry. Or who to sleep with. No one is pointing their mocking teen-age fingers at you and calling you gay. Okay? (I may, at this point, be calling you a whole host of other things, but my fury is not entrenched in law.)

It is not as if the lesbian and gay communities are asking for something outrageous. They are not asking for your jobs, your homes, your children, or your money; they're not demanding equal sexual time with you or your spouse; they're not trying to secede. What horrible and agitating thing are they struggling to achieve? They want to get married. Wow. That's it. They want to be able to get married. I'm having trouble wrapping my mind around why this is considered so ultimately terrifying because if you actually unpack the fear... there's not a lot there. They want the chance, in front of friends, family, and their entire community, to put their money where their mouth is: to make the public commitment.

I am, absent obvious racial characteristics, as middle-of-the-road as one gets. I am married, I have two children, I have a mortgage. My husband works full-time; I work part-time and write. I hate housework. My parents are in and out of my house all week. I am not writing from any radical fringe or any radical mode of thought. My marriage, and my family, are not lessened by gay marriage; they are more threatened by a society that continues to attempt to entrench bigotry in its constitution. I understand bigotry. I know what my parents lost--as children--in the internment camps of the second world war. I know what their parents lost, as adults with families they couldn't even keep together, so I understand bigotry. I understand the costs.

There is enough loneliness and unhappiness in life that denying people the chance at a public, successful marriage seems petty, small, cruel. Will all of the marriages survive? Probably not; many marriages don't. But the profound hope and promise of the beginning is one of the ways one gets through the storms and the upheavals. We promised. It was witnessed. It meant something. Denying people this happiness and this hope just spreads misery and isolation.

Please, do not do this. Do not continue to do this.


( 37 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 26th, 2009 07:51 pm (UTC)
There was a tremendous and costly push by some of the more conservative elements (some of which actually lay outside the state) who stirred up fears in various communities.

I am sick with disappointment and disgust. My one hope is that, in preserving the rights of those 18,000 marriages already made, the state, and the legislature will eventually come to see that the sky did not fall. Further, the idiocy of 18,000 having civil rights shared by non gay couples, and the tragedy of those who do not have the same civil rights, will create awareness.
May. 26th, 2009 07:53 pm (UTC)
The tide seems to be turning, but it's so damned slow. So disappointed.
May. 26th, 2009 07:52 pm (UTC)
I don't get it, either. I'm so ashamed of my state. Like you, I expected this decision, but it's disappointing to have the worst confirmed.
May. 26th, 2009 07:55 pm (UTC)
I wish everyone could read this.
May. 26th, 2009 08:10 pm (UTC)
Yes, I just... How? How do people have their logic circuits so stripped away? How do they lose all ability to evaluate their own motives and thinking?
May. 26th, 2009 08:13 pm (UTC)
Amen. You stated the case beautifully.
May. 26th, 2009 08:14 pm (UTC)
I remember seeing the pictures that were taken of the California gay couples who got married when the legal bars against doing so were lifted in that state. I remember a couple of elderly lesbian ladies who had been in a partnership which was for GHU's sake longer-lasting that the lifetimes of most of the people protesting their right to be together in a manner of their choice, of being MARRIED, of having a legal right to be a spouse and all that this means in practical terms. I remember the sheer damned glowing JOY on the face of George Takei and his own long-term partner when THEY walked away married.

What is the matter with the people who are so bent on denying other human beings the right to that kind of joy? I am very disappointed at the decision. VERY. I thought better of California.
May. 26th, 2009 08:27 pm (UTC)
I agree. As one of my friends said it - "The rights of a minority should never be determined by a vote of the majority."
May. 26th, 2009 08:48 pm (UTC)
I wish they would take all the legal and financial privileges out of matrimony altogether. I'd rather they be two separate processes - one legal/fiscal, to be entered into upon by any gender pairing wishing to create said partnership, the other ceremonial. Couples could have one, the other, or both with whichever rights and assigns they chose to have incorporated. "Marriage" by itself should not convey any legal or fiscal rights whatsoever. (/rant)
May. 26th, 2009 10:52 pm (UTC)
I've been saying this same thing for awhile too. I've been numb since the election, went through my grieving process then so when the predictable happened today, I didn't feel much. Between Prop 8 and the budget bullshit, I'm ready to burn the CA state constitution to the ground and start over. I hear they're considering a constitutional congress, that could be another shot at getting prop 8 repealed.

I heard a rumor about a petition circulating to put this issue of legal vs. religious marriages on the ballot as an initiative, but I have yet to find someone circulating said petition. You'd think in SF they'd be papering the sidewalks with it but I haven't seen anything yet. I'll sign if I can track someone down.
May. 27th, 2009 03:23 am (UTC)
I am so ashamed to live in this state that I used to be so proud of.

There was an argument trotted out by the religious bigots during the campaign for Prop 8 that basically went, "We gave you civil unions, that should be good enough!" And I agree with them. Civil unions should be good enough for EVERYONE. =P Since they essentially confer all the legal benefits of being "married", let us take the state out of "marriages" entirely. Everyone gets civil unions and let's just be done with it. If you wanna have a ceremony in a church, that's fine and dandy, but there had better not be any legal documents signed while you're there. I think of them all very much as petulant children who don't want to have to share their toys, so you know what? No toys for you.

Those people can keep their sacraments in their churches that keep the gays out so long as their keep their bigotry and hatred and religion out of my secular government and laws!

Plus, I've never really understood the argument that allowing gay people to marry would destroy the sanctity of marriage. Straight people have already done that just fine on their own, without anyone else's help. =P
May. 26th, 2009 09:01 pm (UTC)
No cut-tags here, because, honestly? CA, I do not get it.

I live here, and I don't get it either. It really makes me physically ill just to think about.
May. 26th, 2009 09:14 pm (UTC)
I basically divide laws into two categories: there are laws of necessity, and laws of morality.*

Laws of necessity ensure that we can function as a society without killing each other, and ensure the gov't runs smoothly. They cover things like assault, what side of the road to drive on, collection of taxes, at what age you're considered an adult, ect.

Laws of morality cover things like who has the right to marry, how many wives/husbands you're allowed, what sexual practices are acceptable, ect.

As far as I'm concerned, the gov't, or anybody else for that matter, has no business legislating laws of morality. As long as it's between freely consenting adults, stay out of it. It doesn't matter whether I agree with the morality of it or not. If it doesn't involve me or mine, then my opinion shouldn't matter.

*Obviously it's never quite so easy, and some of these laws will overlap or may be difficult to decide which category they belong in.

May. 26th, 2009 09:23 pm (UTC)
*headdesk* If a state like Iowa, which is the middle of the country and probably considered red can pass same sex marriage legislation *unanimously*, why can't California? I don't understand.

It's a very sad day, I really wish that had turned out differently. :(
May. 26th, 2009 09:29 pm (UTC)
Really beautifully written, Michelle.
May. 26th, 2009 09:31 pm (UTC)
I don't get it, either. May their eyes open.
May. 26th, 2009 10:38 pm (UTC)
Thank you for putting this so clearly and eloquently. I still can't believe it. California, where I was born and raised and live, which I was always taught was progressive and forward-thinking. Obviously not anymore. I feel sick thinking on it.
May. 26th, 2009 11:03 pm (UTC)
I like this (!!!) : "The rights of a minority should never be determined by a vote of the majority."

It makes so much sense.

I'm in CA and the Prop 8 issue spoiled any joy I may have had after the elections. It makes me sick (I can feel it in the pit of my stomach... good thing I don't have ulcers!).

The Knights of Columbus and the Mormon Church outspent nearly everyone to run all kinds of ads right at the end, totally fear-mongering about how Churches would be sued and schools would be forced to teach young kids that they could marry their own sex--and what's wrong with that??? The End of Human Decency and Western Civilization, apparently.

And I was getting recorded phone messages using Obama's words about not being for gay marriage, which was disenheartening.

And apparently there were many churches preaching from their pulpits about how everyone must go out and vote Yes on 8 (or was it No? There was that issue that made it confusing, too).

Everyone has the idea that California is the Hollywood elite or the liberals of San Francisco, but large parts of the state are small towns, rural areas and even large parts of suburbia that are still quite conservative. I mean, come on, where did Nixon and Reagan come from???

There are huge numbers of church-goers here who are Social Conservatives and while they may have been all for Obama, they were also listening to their churches and voting against the Gay, Liberal Agenda (of godless, decadent, sinful types).

They will say they are not bigoted at all, that they love their gay friends and children, but that marriage is sacred and something of God.

The issue of Marriage needs to be, in that case, taken out of the State's hands and left to the Church. All things that have to do with civil rights and status and taxes and such needs to be Civil Unions--for everyone, equally. I think that was part of what the justices were hinting at in the ruling. That, OK, "Marriage" was limited to women and men only... but that doesn't mean the inequalities shouldn't be address as far as all the rest goes. So it becomes a thing of terminology. ... I SO hope that that angle can be worked on here, ASAP--to take out the religious aspects as far as the State and National laws go.

There will be protesting. I should probably go and show support. And other plans--another proposition on the ballot.

The vote was at some time heading in favor of same-sex marriage before all the outside groups and churches pushed things. And I KNOW trends are going in the correct direction. I had so hoped we all were more ready and receptive to do what is right, but people are slow, slow, slow to change on these kinds of issues. Bigotry is very common, sadly, whether it's rationalized or hidden or outright...

I guess we can just keep trying and working on it.

(Thank goodness those who were married weren't stripped of that, at least.)

(Deleted comment)
May. 27th, 2009 12:35 am (UTC)
Well said, and seconded. I would hope for reason to succeed but am daunted by the closed-minded.
May. 27th, 2009 12:38 am (UTC)
Sing it, sister -- sing it loud and with a Hallelujah Amen.

May. 27th, 2009 01:01 am (UTC)
The problem with gay marriage is that it takes a pragmatic argument about material harm and uses it to over-ride an argument derived from a mix of religious doctrine and religious authority.

This is the sane and sensible thing to do unless you derive your income, social standing, sense of self, or political power from religious sources; in that case, it calls into question the fundamental legitimacy of at least one, and probably more than one, thing you consider very important.

It's not really about the gay; it's about what the legitimate ways to construct moral authority and social norms are. That's what makes it so bitter on the anti side and so frequently bewildered on the for side, because the anti position -- as Michelle has so eloquently pointed out -- makes absolutely no sense if you consider the question in material terms.
(Deleted comment)
May. 27th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
Very well stated.
May. 27th, 2009 02:13 am (UTC)
At least the prevention of ex post facto laws is written into the Constitution, and those people who did marry didn't have their marriages...invalidated. Ugh.

Thank you for posting this.
May. 27th, 2009 05:48 am (UTC)
Brava, Ms. Sagara. And thank you.
May. 27th, 2009 06:08 am (UTC)
Read Fn.8 of the dissent; Justice Moreno specifically references Justice Jackson's dissent in Korematsu, which pointed out how the Hirabayashi ruling was used as precedent to go from temporary curfews to internment camps, to explain why the "oh, it's just a little infringement, so it's only an amendment and not a revision" argument is so dangerous.
May. 27th, 2009 07:24 am (UTC)
Actually, succession sounds like a good idea right about now. :(
May. 27th, 2009 11:21 am (UTC)
Personally I think the people who're voting for are just on a power trip. They like the fact that they can cause a lot of hurt to people who they believe to be 'wrong' and 'ill.'
May. 27th, 2009 01:49 pm (UTC)
Hear, hear - very well said.
May. 29th, 2009 05:52 am (UTC)
Very well said indeed.
I keep catching myself thinking, 'If Harvey had lived . . .'
May. 30th, 2009 02:12 am (UTC)
CA Supreme Court decision
Freedom of speech is something everyone shouts for, fights for. Freedom of speech is the right of everyone man, woman, child or so everyone say. Righ?...Right! But is what is the real truth here? The fact is that men are and will be sent to war against their wills. Woman still have not be given equality in pay and status. Children are abused time and time again. They all have had their rights taken away. So when the voters said No, and the Supreme Court upheld their decision. Why are you trying to take their rights away???????? We are only saying that marriage is between a man and woman..that is all, nothing more. Stop reading more into it, stop acting as if we are trying to ban or take away what you already have. How many men and woman love each other yet in this day and age live together without marriage? How many? STOP trying to read the voters minds. If you truly want this then get creative and create a new law for same sex...but leave this one alone!
Jun. 5th, 2009 03:11 am (UTC)
Re: CA Supreme Court decision
Believe that I'm not trying to read the voters' minds. I think it is small, petty, ugly, vindictive and a whole host of grossly insecure to have voted for prop 8, which is narrow-minded and very very reminiscent of laws against racial marriage, which are hideously outdated now.

The course of progress means that those people with more liberal attitudes raise voices against what they see as injustice. The fact that half the US at one point wanted slavery does not, for instance, make slavery good because the slaves aren't making the laws; the people who are in power are. And this, to me, is a more subtle version of that: the people who are voting against gay marriage are not the people affected by the vote. The marriages of gay men, and lesbian women, do nothing whatsoever to demean the marriages of anyone else.

If you think every law that's ever been passed by the people in power is good, I invite you to revisit your history. Or ours. If you think every majority vote that has ever been passed should pass without question, I invite you to do the same.

People change. Knowledge changes. Opinions change. It's why women can vote, among other things :P.
Jun. 9th, 2009 05:47 am (UTC)
Re: CA Supreme Court decision
Wow!…what malicious and hurtful things you just said only because I believe that marriage should be between a man and woman. Note also that there is a vast difference between racial marriages and gay marriages to compare the two is very ignorant on your part. There are undertones to all your words of how homosexuals are loving people only wanting to right to marriage like everyone else. And our past our worlds history does have the tendency of repeated itself. Abortion for example was once accepted, then in just a few short years a whole turn around on that issue. Yes, take a good look at the world’s history, of Rome or any other city of the past. As soon as there is a breakdown of their structure, laws and morality they eventually turn on to themselves. Man has never learned from their mistakes. This will in the end turn out the same. Sadly you are right; in a few years gays will win the right to marry I am very sure of that. And in the process that change will open the way to all sorts of other perversions, this western society as a whole is even now changing. I trust I will not be around when that happens and it saddens me to think of the innocent that will suffer in the future because of these changes. There is a change coming and it will not be for the better.
Jun. 5th, 2009 02:57 am (UTC)
Marriage is for man and a woman only. God wanted man and woman in the sacrament of marriage to reproduce, and gays can't do that. sure, they can adopt, but how are their children going to feel, extremely confused. by refusing gay marriage, they aren't expecting to cut off a gay person's happy ending. everyone should be happy and deserves to be happy, but marriage is for a man AND a woman.
Jun. 5th, 2009 03:05 am (UTC)
By this reasoning, anyone who gets married with the intent to have zero children should also, in fact, be refused marriage.

I'm all for skipping the sacrament, by the way.

I'm not for excluding people -legally- from the body politic which in theory is not religious, from the civil ceremony known as -- yes! -- marriage.

By all means, if they don't revere your god, they don't have to marry in your Church. They can find someone else's god to revere, and someone else's church to be married in. But they live here, abide by the laws, and, significantly, pay the taxes upon which all of our civil services are in the end based. Given that they are part of society, why should they not benefit from the legal protections of said society?

In other words: the force of civil law should apply to gay couples in exactly the same way it applies to every other couple. If you want to deny them the religious ceremony, if you want to refuse to condone it as a core religious tenet, it's your clubhouse, and I have no problems with that.

But separate out Church and State here. The State should have the right to recognize marriages absent religious attitudes; the Church should not be required to be an avenue for performing those marriages.

Edited at 2009-06-05 03:17 am (UTC)
Jun. 29th, 2009 01:40 am (UTC)
The best solution (in my opinion) would be to strip the word "marriage" out of civil law entirely. Make everyone a "civil union", whether it's between man and woman, man and man, woman and woman, or man and chicken. If the couple then wants to be "married", they can go to whatever local church recognizes their sort of union and get married there.

This would completely strip the issue of bizarre and antiquarian religious arguments offered by the fruitcakes who voted against gay marriage.
( 37 comments — Leave a comment )