The California Supreme Court upheld the legality of last year’s ballot initiative writing discrimination into the Constitution. No one can marry a same sex couple now, but they didn’t invalidate marriages performed in the window between a previous ruling permitting same sex marriages and the amendment’s passage.
This is obviously a disappointment. Proposition 8 is a travesty, and should never have passed. Indeed, it surely won’t stand. More and more states are legalizing marriage equality through the legislatures, and it’s increasingly uncontroversial.
The fact is, California nearly beat them all to the punch. Two successive meetings of the California legislature considered bills allowing marriage equality, with the second passing the bill. It was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Of course, now Schwarzenegger is pretending that he has no power in the matter, saying:
While I believe that one day either the people or courts will recognize gay marriage, as governor of California I will uphold the decision of the California Supreme Court. Regarding the 18,000 marriages that took place prior to Proposition 8?s passage, the court made the right decision in keeping them intact.
Yes, people voted, but so did their elected representatives, and Schwarzenegger overruled their judgment. He can’t sit back and wring his hands, wishing that the outcome had been different. As so often in his governorship, he’s trying to avoid responsibility, rather than taking a stand. If he opposed Proposition 8, he could have been out working to block it. If he really thought the package of budgets amendments just rejected in the popular vote were so vital, he wouldn’t have been palling around in D.C. on election day, he’d have been on every radio or TV station, making a last push to shore up support. And if he didn’t think those were the solution, he’d have cracked heads and gotten a few more Republicans to back something real.
Pretty soon we’ll have a new Governor. Whether it’s (SF Mayor) Gavin Newsom, (former governor, former Oakland Mayor, current state AG) Jerry Brown, LA Mayor Antionio Villaraigosa, or someone else, he or she will inherit a huge mess, but will have the advantage of very low expectations after the long leadership drought of the Schwarzenegger years (and the Davis years before that).
Meanwhile, we all remember Joe Hill’s famous words: “Don’t waste any time in mourning. Organize.” Marriage equality is on hiatus from California for a while, but we’ll bring it back. And as far as I can tell, same sex marriages performed elsewhere will still be legal in California.