Skepticism

Prop 8 Struck Down in California

Breaking: If you haven’t heard, a federal judge in San Francisco decided that love rules!

That’s right! Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional and now gay and lesbians can once again legally marry in the state of California. :)

love in sign language

When discussing Proposition 8 U.S. District Chief Judge Vaughn R. Walker said,

“Each challenge is independently meritorious, as Proposition 8 both unconstitutionally burdens the exercise of the fundamental right to marry and creates an irrational classification on the basis of sexual orientation.

Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite-sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. … Because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.”

Woohoo! Congratulations everybody. I call maid of honor!

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Amy Roth

Amy Davis Roth (aka Surly Amy) is a multimedia artist who resides in Los Angeles, California. She makes Surly-Ramics. She is the fearless leader of Mad Art Lab. Support her on Patreon. Follow her on twitter: @SurlyAmy or on Google+. Tip Jar is here.

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40 Comments

  1. I’m still annoyed there wasn’t a “Hell No” box I could check back when the damn thing passed.

    This is great news! Now, excuse me while I go find a gay illegal immigrant to marry and grant a green card.

  2. I’m of two minds here. On the one hand, the fact that an initiative was struck down bya court plays right into the narrative of the wingnuts who were in favor of Prop 8 to begin with (such as many of my relatives) who have gotten themselves into the bizarre belief that the courts are out to destroy the country, and that only through using the law to enforce behavior will we have freedom (Orwell would be proud).

    On the other hand, prohibitions against inter-racial marriage were struck down by courts, and nowdays it is difficult to find someone in the U.S. who will admit to being opposed ot such unions. So, in the long run, this may work out well.

  3. @kylev: Each “hell no” could count as 1.5 “no” votes :).

    Seriously, Californians, you simply must remove that goofy “everybody gets to play legislator” prop system. There is a reason successful nations use representative democracies. That reason is because most people don’t understand law and government well enough to make laws and govern.

    Just look at the enormous amount of people today who want the Miranda rights (or any rights) to not apply to suspected terrorists.

  4. @anthroslug: Actually, this is exactly how it should work. One of the reasons the courts exist is to ensure laws enacted by the majority (or the representatives of the majority) do not adversely effect the minorities.

    You are right, though, this is fuel for the right wing nut jobs. However, we can’t win on that front though: they say “proper ruling” when a court sides with them, but “legislating from the bench” when they side against them.

  5. @DataJack: This. This was the proper way to do it. The upper courts are trying to determine if the laws created are constitutional. That’s why we have different levels of courts, and checks and balances. It’s all put into place on purpose. Bringing the case to the upper courts to determine it’s constitutional viability is the right thing to do.

  6. I just read about this two minutes ago, and I just came from starting a conga line at the BXing forum. LOL

    Unless Yahoo is lying to me, though

    Despite the favorable ruling for same-sex couples, gay marriage will not be allowed to resume immediately. Judge Walker said he wants to decide whether his order should be suspended while the proponents of the ban pursue their appeal in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

    OK, I’m going back to my conga line :)

  7. I think my point was misunderstood. Yes, this is the role of the courts, and they do need to do it. I just think that it’s unfortunate, and may have long-term political implications, that it had to go through an institution that right-wing leaders have succesfully worked into a paranoid worldview.

    @DataJack: As a life-long California resident, I have long been baffled by the fact that so many of my fellow voters don’t comprehend that the initiative system has been turned into a tool for legislators to not have to make tough decisions and demagogues to push their agendas.

  8. @infinitemonkey:

    >I think an act of the people should be overturned by an act of the people.

    And I think sometimes the act of the people is unconstitutional (slavery, anyone?) and should be recognized by the upper courts as such.

    This is how it’s supposed to be. The courts acted exactly as they should. This is like, 3rd grade history and government classes. Why do so many people — even progressives — not get it?

  9. Hi there!

    I’ve long said that Proposition 8, or any kind of so-called “Protection of Marriage Act” threatens my heterosexual marriage.

    Anyone that ever wants to tell me that all of the love, admiration, respect, trust and commitment that my wife and I share would be completely meaningless if we didn’t just so happen to have the “right” kinds of dangly bits between our legs, had better say it to my face.

    And then start runnin’

  10. @Marilove: I am not saying that the courts functioning as they should is unfortunate.

    Perhaps I have done what I sometimes do, and assumed that everyone else knows what I’m thinking. So, I’ll try to explain it a bit better.

    I am saying that we live with a political system in which narratives often (sometimes it seems, typically) have more strength than facts in motivating people. The fact that a large chunk of the voting public has been convinced that the courts are out to “destroy Christian America!” means that many people will see this as confirmation, and we can expect attempts to limit the court’s abilitiers to do their job pick up steam.

    Will these sorts of movement be succesful? Probably not, but the fact that they exist is unnerving enough. The fact that they are supported, by and large, by the same people who supported Proposition 8 means that they are likely to get a bit more steam behind them now. This makes me nervous.

    Is this, a court challenge, the only way that this law was going to be removed? Probably.

    Is it good that a civil rights issue such as this is being taken care of? Yes.

    Is the fact that it took a court to deal with this law appropriately going to feed the narrative (and hence the power) of people who want to dismantle the Constitution? Yes. Even if they are not succesful in stifling the courts int he future, and I doubt that they will be, this is unfortunate.

  11. Actually, gay and lesbian couples can’t get married legally in California, yet. Although the judge ruled Prop. 8 unconstitutional, the supporters of the ban already requested a Stay…and I think the judge issued it. There will likely be many months, and probably years, before this issue gets resolved.

  12. @Draconius: love it! The institution would only be made sweeter by including all committed loving couples and to suggest otherwise is obscene.
    I love my home state of CA and the passing of prop 8 is an embarrassment that seriously depresses me. This ruling is a step toward setting things right but it can’t erase the indication that most voting californians are surprisingly bigotted when it comes to sexual orientation.

  13. @marilove:
    Because at some point people decided that democracy is the highest political virtue. Never mind that the Founding Fathers were fundamentally suspicious of majority rule and built your government specifically to limit the power of the majority (a decision I heartily agree with). No, apparently if 50% + 1 of the population thinks something that makes it true.

    When you have a lot of people with that attitude, you get foolishness like the constant cries against “judicial activism”. If the courts won’t strike down unconstitutional laws, why bother having a Constitution?

  14. @ James K
    Dryden said it best (sometime in the mid 1600s?):

    “Nor is the people’s judgement always true;
    The most may err as grossly as the few.”
    -John Dryden, Absalom and Achitophel, Pt I. 781

  15. @anthroslug: “Do me a favor and don’t ask me to defend beliefs that I have already made it clear that I don’t hold.”

    I don’t recall asking you to defend anything. I’m genuinely curious as to how gay marriage can “destroy” heterosexual marriages, and I’ve never actually heard an explanation. Just thought it might have been part of your friends’ rants, is all.

    Chill a little.

  16. It’s too bad I’m already gay married, cause I’d get gay married again to have you as one of my bridesmaids Amy…

    I was tweeting the whole thing yesterday and was so excited.

    The ruling is brilliant and really sets the stage for both the appellate courts and the Supremes. Part of the ruling references Justice Kennedy who will make or break this at SCOTUS. Walker’s language couldn’t be more clear or more skeptical. He’s definitely one of us in a whole host of ways.

    It makes for really good reading if you have an hour or so.

  17. @Reveren Kel: My apologies. My experience of internet discourse is such that typically, when someone writes a question like that, it’s usually a rhetorical question meant to have at the person at whom it is directed. So, my mistake, I didn’t realize you were actually looking for information.

    Unfortunately, Marilove is right, when you begina ctually asking questions, these people don’t have anything to back up their claims. Here is a condensed version of every such conversation that I have ever had:

    Them: “It’ll destroy heterosexual marriage!”
    Me: “Really, how?”
    Them: “By making it meaningless!”
    Me: “Really? You’re marriage has so little meaning that a small expansion of the legal definition will destroy your relationship with your spouse?”
    Them: “That’s not what I’m saying”
    Me: “Then can you clarify how it will destroy marriage?”
    Them: “Isn’t it obvious?”
    Me: “No. Explain.”
    Them: “You’re just an anti-Christian Moral Relativist!”

  18. @faith: You can always get married a second time. That’s what my friends did. They first got married when it was legally meaningless. Then about 4 years later (thanks, Mass SJC!) it became legal, so they were going to get married again. They were just going to do the legal paper work at the town hall, but all their friends said “You’ve got to have a big party!” Eventually we prevailed, but they insisted “No presents”. Naturally, we ignored that. and there was a big table covered with gifts at the wedding. Their 3 year old wanted to open the presents of course, but they explained they would open them later, and anyway the presents were for Mommy and Mummy (as he called them) and were grownup stuff. Their son said “But that’s not fair. I’m part of this wedding too!” Kids have a strong sense of justice.

  19. Don’t feel like celebrating yet.
    My guess (and I really hope I’m wrong) is that this goes to the Supreme Court and they decide to uphold prop 8.
    Cannot put into words how much I hope I’m proved wrong.

  20. @Danarra: Saw this comment floating around earlier today and hope the irony proves correct.

    “It could be even better…, If I understand this correctly, one of the two reasons the judge gave for overturning prop 8 was that the ban violated the equal protection clause of the Constitution. If this case gets to the Supreme Court (which is fairly likely now) and they accept this argument as valid, it would invalidate DOMA and legalize gay marriage for the entire country. How deliciously ironic would that be, that the efforts of Utah Mormons fighting so hard to get gay marriage banned in California would end up being directly responsible for getting gay marriage being legalized in every state in the nation. Including Utah.”

  21. Since this is going to the Supremes, it is my hope that the decision goes better than 5-4. 9-0 would be fantastic, but I think it is unlikely. Each number to the left of the hyphen improves its longevity.

  22. Every time a large event concerning civil rights for gays occurs, I get a little itch. Foolishly, I try to ignore this itch, and inevitably it becomes ever more irritating. Still, I resist, and remind myself of the painful rash that always follows when my constitution fails and I scratch. Finally, when I can no longer stand it, I give in and visit some skeptical websites to see what ‘my people’ think about the issue. Invariably, I am shocked at what I find every single time.

    You need not venture past the first page of comments on the Prop. 8 thread on the (moderated) JREF Forums to find the word “fags” and comparisons of overturning Prop. 8 to allowing marriage to livestock. A little further and you get to enjoy pleas of ‘what about the 7 million people who voted FOR Prop. 8?’, and ‘so much for democracy!’.

    Head on over to Phil Plait’s Bad Astro blog and you can find the usual ‘won’t someone please think of the childreeeeen!?’ and ‘marriage is only for couples who can procreate naturally!’ arguments. Not to mention the litany of ridiculous ‘but my taxes!!!’, and simpering “I don’t like this because the government should get out of marriage all together” arguments.

    I hope against hope that every time I visit skeptic blogs during these civil rights turning points I won’t find such idiotic arguments on prominent display, and I’m disappointed every time. Skeptics should be able to see the stupidity of these sorts of arguments better than anyone else, but apparently not.

  23. Congratulations Californians!

    On behalf of all (decent) Iowans I’d like to say welcome to the league of states that really believe in, ‘liberty and justice for all.’ I’d also like to say what took you so long!

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