Tuesday, February 7, 2012

From the decision

It's 2-1.  THe opinion is narrow, applying specifically to the unusual situation in CA where a right was given and then taken away. This probably makes it a sturdier decision. From the opinion (my emphases)

….all parties agree that Proposition 8 had one effect only.  It stripped same sex couples of the ability they previously possessed to obtain from the State, or any other authorized party, an important right--the right to obtain and use the designation of 'marriage to describe their relationships.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Proposition 8 therefor could not have been enacted to advance California's interests in childbearing or  responsible procreation, for it had no effect on the rights of same sex couples to raise children oron the procreative practices of other couples.  Nor did Proposition 8 have any effect on religious freedom or on parents' rights ot control their education: it could not have been enacted to safeguard these liberties.

All that Proposition 8 accomplished was to take away from same sex couples the right to be granted marriage licenses and thus legally to use the designation of 'marriage' which symbolizes state legitimization and societal recognition of their committted relationships.  Proposition 8 serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite sex couples  The Constitution simply does not allow for "laws of this sort" (Romer v. Evans.)


dr.primrose said...

This decision is very narrow and very California-centric. Under Calfornia law, same-sex domestic partners and opposite-sex spouses have the same substantive rights and obligations. The primary differences are (1) the different legal name placed on the legal relationship and (2) the legal procedure by which one establishes the relationship, marriage license for one and registration for domestic partnership for the other. The fight in California is not over substantive legal rights and obligations; it's a fight over the use of a word, "marriage."

As a result, as the court noted, the oft-cited reasons for limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples simply don't apply under California law. Prop. 8 had no effect on the right of same same-sex couples to have children, raise children, or adopt children. It had no effect on family structure. It had no effect on what is taught in public schools. It had no effect on the laws barring discrimination on religious belief and practice. And the claim that banning same-sex marriage would encourage opposite-sex couples to get married had "no footing in reality."

The Court said only that once that California Supreme Court had ruled that same-sex couples had a constitutional right to the word "marriage" (and all the societal recognition that word embraces) that constitutional right could not be taken away where it had no effect on legal rights and where the only reason for taking it away was anti-gay prejudice.

No state other than California in this situation. So the case affects no other state. The Supreme Court might decide not to review this case because it is so narrow. On the other hand, several of the justices -- Thomas and Scalia for sure and probably Roberts -- are just itching to weigh in on this issue. It only takes four votes to grant review of any case, however, and they may be able to convince somebody else to take this case up. We'll see.

JCF said...

Yeah, I don't see SCOTUS touching this (more likely, DOMA).

My FIRST concerned, being a Californian, is that we get couples here actually marrying again.

Then, it's inch-by-inch, yard-by-yard---w/ a Golden State sized boost!---across the country (or until SCOTUS definitively decides in our favor!)

Jim Pratt said...

I, too, don't see the SC taking this one -- it's too narrow (and carefully crafted) to raise a significant question for them. (also, the conservatives might, if they are principled, have an issue with the petitioners' standing)

And while that will do little to advance the cause nationwide, it will bring a much quicker resolution to same-sex couples in California.