California über alles

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by Jeff Fecke | May 26, 2009 • It’s understandable to be disappointed in today’s ruling by the California Supreme Court upholding the results of the vote on Proposition 8. But there’s a difference between being disappointed by the ruling and seeing the ruling as a betrayal.

Jeff Fecke is a freelance writer who lives in Eagan, Minnesota.In addition to his own blog, Blog of the Moderate Left, he also contributes to Alas, a Blog, Minnesota Campaign Report, and AlterNet. Fecke has appeared as a guest on the “Today” show, the Alan Colmes radio show, and the Mark Heaney Show. Fecke is divorced, and the father of one really terrific daughter. His debut novel, The Valkyrie’s Tale, is now available.

Quite simply, the California court’s hands were tied; they ruled same-sex marriage legal based on the California Constitution, and the voters in California legally voted to enshrine bigotry in that Constitution. Oh, equality advocates — including Democratic Attorney General Jerry Brown — tried valiantly to come up with a triple-bank-shot of an argument that this amendment didn’t count, but it was always a long shot, and the California court probably ruled correctly on the point of law.

The ruling itself is as pro-same-sex-marriage as it could be under the circumstances; the court basically held that civil unions and marriage have the same rights, and all Proposition 8 did was reserve the word “marriage,” rather than the rights associated with it, for straights. That’s less than ideal for reasons too obvious to require elaboration, but the fault lies not with California’s Supreme Court, but the 52% of Californians who chose to write bigotry into their state’s constitution.

The good news is that this is not the end of the road. California’s Constitution is far too easy to amend, but that cuts both ways. With public opinion trending strongly for equality, and a newly energized and motivated community willing to work hard for equal treatment under the law, it’s only a matter of time before an amendment invalidating Proposition 8 passes. And that’s precisely what needs to be done, starting in 2010, and repeating as necessary until the measure ultimately passes. The California Supreme Court is beholden to the people of California. And so it is up to the people of California to seize the day, and work for true and lasting marriage equality. And it is up to those of us in other states to do the same.

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