Today, May 26, 2009, the California Supreme Court, in a 6-1 decision, upheld Prop 8. This is amazing news for fans of democracy, but a brutal defeat for queers and LGBT activists and organizers.
California voters legally outlawed same-sex marriage when they approved Proposition 8 in November, but the constitutional amendment did not dissolve the unions of 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who wed before the measure took effect, the state Supreme Court ruled today.
The 6-1 decision was issued by the same court that declared a year ago that a state law defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman violated the right to choose one’s spouse and discriminated on the basis of sexual orientation.
Prop. 8 undid that ruling. The author of last year’s 4-3 decision, Chief Justice Ronald George, said today that the voters were within their rights to approve a constitutional amendment redefining marriage to include only male-female couples.
The actual issue before the justices was whether the voters’ had the power to amend the California State Constitution by initiative, or whether – as the homosexuals and their supporters claimed – Prop 8 legally required a two-thirds legislative vote or approval from delegates at a state constitutional convention in order to have reached the November, 2008 ballot.
It’s rather shocking that the California court didn’t fall victim to judicial activism and actually held firmly to the law and to the merits of the case before them, which was Strauss vs. Horton, S168047.
In addressing the issues now presented in the third chapter of this narrative, it is important at the outset to emphasize a number of significant points. First, as explained in the Marriage Cases, supra, 43 Cal.4th at page 780, our task in the present proceeding is not to determine whether the provision at issue is wise or sound as a matter of policy or whether we, as individuals, believe it should be a part of the California Constitution. Regardless of our views as individuals on this question of policy, we recognize as judges and as a court our responsibility to confine our consideration to a determination of the constitutional validity and legal effect of the measure in question. It bears emphasis in this regard that our role is limited to interpreting and applying the principles and rules embodied in the California Constitution, setting aside our own personal beliefs and values.
— Strauss v. Horton 5/26/09 SC
Majority Opinion of the Court
I would suggest to those who favor and/or support same-sex marriage that they gather signatures on petitions and submit them to the California Legislature so that a Constitutional amendment or revision redefining marriage as to be something other than merely “one man and one woman” can be brought to referendum vote in the next few years.