On November 4th, 2008. the voters in California voted in favor of Proposition 8 – by a reasonably slim 52.3% to 47.7% margin – which amended the California State Constitution to include verbiage that strictly defined marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
California State Constitution
SECTION 2. Article I. Sect ion 7.5
Thus Proposition 8 overruled the May 15, 2008 decision by the California Supreme Court that ruled that the previous Proposition 22 – which passed with 61.4% of the vote – violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. As a result Gay Marriage was once again forbidden in California.
As anyone with a brain would expect, the LGBT community and its supporters are very much up in arms over this development. There are holding protests across the whole nation and proceeding to move forward with litigation to have the constitutional amendment overruled. The LGBT community is outraged that the voters of California took their rights away twice!
One has to ask though what rights did the homosexual lose? The answer is not a single one under California law. California recognizes both hetero- and homosexual Domestic Partnerships, which as of 2007 grant all of the same rights and responsibilities as marriages under CA state law (see California Family Code §297.5)
Registered domestic partners shall have the same rights, protections, and benefits, and shall be subject to the same responsibilities, obligations, and duties under law, whether they derive from statutes, administrative regulations, court rules, government policies, common law, or any other provisions or sources of law, as are granted to and imposed upon spouses.
California Family Code
The first thought that came to mind was that these Domestic Partnerships wouldn’t make the participants eligible for the same federal programs and protections granted to married couples. This is actually true, but is sadly irrelevant. The federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which President Bill Clinton signed into law on September 21, 1996 expressly states that the Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states. Whether married or partnered, same-sex couples are denied federal recognition.
So it comes down to language and the weight that people place on the word “Marriage.” Homosexuals weren’t interested in their rights, which weren’t in jeopardy. The outrage caused by Prop 8 is seemingly based on the gay community’s need to have the California government say that they have the “right” to say that they’re married.
Essentially the LGBT community tried to legislate and litigate acceptance and got “slapped in the face” by homophobia. They also – I hope but do not conclude unwittingly – ran afoul of Christian churches who are experiencing an increased fear of government interference.
Someday people will hopefully learn that you cannot legislate or litigate aceeptance, only enforced tolerance and equality of measurable and substansive rights under the law of the land. It won’t be today though or next week – or next year.