Prop. 8: One Less Thing to Write About

silverbulletIf it wasn’t so socially and politically inappropriate for my workplace, I might consider buying myself one of these silver bullet necklaces to celebrate the final, final death of California’s Proposition 8.

While my coverage wasn’t definitive, I feel like I’ve been writing about Prop. 8 for-ev-ah. (For the sake of nostalgia, read my short story, “Something About Love”.)

After all, same-sex marriage has been riding a roller coast in California for more than a decade. I’ll take you on a spin. Buckle up and keep your arms and hands inside the car at all times:

There have been ups – California began registering domestic partners in 2000.

And downs – Later that year, voters passed Proposition 22, which declared that marriage should be limited to opposite sex couples.

More ups –  In 2003, Governor Gray Davis signed a bill extending the rights of domestic partners in California, stopping just short of the full rights of marriage. And in 2004, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom made a renegade decision to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Nearly 4,000 were issued.

Another big dip –  The state supreme court determined that Newsom overstepped the bounds of his authority and resulting marriages were annulled later that year.

Another up – The state supreme court struck down the state’s ban on gay marriage when a San Francisco judge heard arguments that the current law defining marriage as being “between a man and a woman” violated the state Constitution by denying gay couples the “fundamental right” to marry a person of their choice.

Another down – In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed a same-sex marriage bill after it passed the Senate and Assembly, arguing that it would wrongly reverse Proposition 22, which declared that marriage is only between a man and a woman. (This is long before it was revealed he had a 14-year affair with a domestic worker in his household that resulted in a child. In fact his wife and his mistress were pregnant in the same household at the same time. So much for the sanctity of his marriage.) In 2007, he vetoe another, similar bill, saying the courts need to rule on the legality of Prop. 22.

A big up – In 2008, the California Supreme Court ruled that the state Constitution protected a fundamental “right to marry” that should also extend to same-sex couples, and that existing bans were unconstitutional.

In classic roller-coaster style, a plummeting downward swoop – Almost immediately, conservative groups, heavily backed by Mormon and Catholic funding, launched an inflammatory, divisive, and confusing campaign called the California Marriage Protection Act, that resulted in the Prop. 8 ballot measure, prohibiting same-sex marriage in California.

The lowest point – In Nov. 2008, the obtusely worded Prop. 8 passes with 52 percent of the vote.

Another up – In 2010, U.S. District Court Judge Vaughn Walker declared:

“Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. 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 California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and 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.”

And another up: In 2012, The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the earlier ruling against Prop. 8, though a stay on gay marriages remained.

Another down: Within months, proponents of Prop. 8 called on the U.S. Supreme Court to support their case against same-sex marriage.

And then the climb to the end of the ride: In June, 2013 the Supreme Court rules against Prop. 8 backers, making same-sex marriage legal once again in California.

But, the ride jerked a couple of times – Same-sex couples began marrying in California in late June, 2013, after a federal appeals court lifted a hold on Justice Walker’s injunction. The pro-Prop. 8 organization, ProtectMarriage, went back to the U.S. Supreme Court the following day, arguing the appeals court acted prematurely because the high court’s decision was not even final. The Supreme Court refused to intervene.

And finally, last week, the ride came to a halt – The California Supreme Court refused to revive Prop. 8, ending the last remaining legal challenge to same-sex marriage in the state. Polls show that a majority of California voters now support same-sex marriage. (I would argue that a majority may have supported same sex marriage in 2008 when Prop. 8 first passed, but were confused by the intentionally obtuse language of the initiative.)

Maybe, after all we’ve been through, this would be a better choice of necklace. I could finish Prop. 8 off Buffy-style.


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