Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Faith for Equality: Prop8 update

The story so far: In a Federal court challenge to California's Prop8 (the voter initiative which took away the rights of lesbian and gay couples to marry), Judge Vaughn Walker found that this amendment is unconstitutional and motivated by animus. However, this finding was immediately stayed by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeal, which is considering two questions: standing, and the constitutionality issue.

The question of standing asks, do the supporters of Prop8 have a right to defend this case in appeal? The Governor and Attorney General refuse to defend Prop8. Because this falls under California law, the 9th Circuit (federal) court has sent this "certified question" back to the California Court, which moves slowly and will consider it in the fall.

Several groups have filed amicus briefs in this case, and I thought you might be interested in this one, from a large coalition of faith groups, including (among others) California Faith for Equality, the California Council of Churches, and Episcopal Bishops Marc Andrus (CA) and Jon Bruno (LA). Yay, Bishops! The brief takes down the argument that the proponents are somehow protecting religious liberty. It concludes,

Proposition 8's proponents may believe that the federal constitution accords same-sex marriages celebrated in Unitarian Universalist churches and Reform Synagogues less dignity and regard than the mixed-race marriage of Catholics at issue in Perez.*

But they suffer no particularized injury when the fundamental rights of others are sustained, and same sex couples are permitted to marry.

Same-sex marriages celebrated in Unitarian Universalist or other churches, in Reform Synagogues, or indeed, in the county clerk's office before a secular employee, threaten no harm to the religious liberty of those whose churches or synagogues disallow same sex unions.

Nor do Proposition 8's Proponents possess any special Commission to act as representatives of the People, and to override the authority and discretion that California's Constitution has vested in the Governor and Attorney General to represent the people's interest in litigation.

*Perez v. Sharp was the case in California that challenged anti-miscegenation laws in 1946

It is estimated that 18,000 same sex couples married prior to the passage of Prop8 in California, including yours truly. These marriages remain legally valid. Since then, other lesbians and gays are only allowed to enter into Domestic Partnerships, which are supposed to give them all the same rights except for the name. If you want to read more about the Prop8 case, visit my other blog, Gay Married Californian.


Jim Pratt said...

off topic, but slightly related:

up here, north of 49, Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party won a majority in yesterday's election. I did catch a commentator on Radio-Canada (the French service of the public broadcaster CBC) speculating whether Harper might try again to reverse same-sex marriage or outlaw abortion. (the last 2 elections resulted in a Conservative minority government, and an attempt to repeal SSM a few years ago fell short in the Commons).

IT said...

I don't understand how our northern neighbors, usually so sensibly moderate, have drunk the right wing koolaid.

Counterlight said...

From what I understand from my Canadian contact (the former Toujoursdan in Brooklyn), Canada is becoming more politically polarized. The conservatives won a majority, but the New Democratic Party also did better than expected, eclipsing the Liberals. Also, as in the States, Canada is becoming regionally more divided with Quebec and the Maritimes going further left and the Prairie and Mountain provinces shifting even further to the right.
As in the States, big money plays an ever larger role in Canadian politics.

Jim Pratt said...

Quebec has been very much on the left since the 70s. The orange tsunami that swept Quebec was simply a shift of left-leaning voters from the Bloc to the NDP. In the Maritimes, decades of neglect and continued economic decline under both Conservatives and Liberals have given steady growth to the NDP. Harper`s social conservatism has played very well in Alberta, the Prairies and rural & suburban Ontario. What gave Harper his majority was the collapse of the Liberals (who are really centrists) in the Greater Toronto area, and in what are fairly good economic times in Canada, those votes went to the party in office.
With the NDP as the Opposition, and without the Bloc (they lost official party status), Parliament is likely to be very polarized along ideological grounds, so look for the rhetoric to increase.