The other shoe is about to be dropped.
The California Supreme Court announced on February 3 that it would hear oral arguments March 5 over the constitutionality of Proposition 8, the November 2008 election ballot constitutional amendment which removed the right of same-sex couples to legally marry in California.
And then the clock will begin ticking.
The California Supreme Court, which must issue its decisions within 90 days of hearing the three hours of oral arguments, will convene in San Francisco and same-sex marriage info junkies can catch it live on the California Channel. In addition to hearing challenges to Prop 8, the court will consider the fate of over 18,000 same-sex marriages that occurred between June 17, the date of the first legal same-sex California marriage, and the November 4 election.
I’m sure that watching closely from the sidelines could be a crazy group called the “California Committee for Racial Purity in Marriage.” This Committee would be hopeful that the court upholds the legality of Prop 8. If it is upheld, they have ready a California Constitutional amendment to overturn the California Supreme Court ruling of 1948 which held that interracial marriage was legal.
During last fall’s campaign, the Yes on 8 Committee used now-President Obama’s statement that he was against same-sex marriage to help win support for Prop 8. However, the No on 8 Committee blundered when they did not use Obama’s statement that he was against Prop 8. According to a Los Angeles Times editorial, “President Obama is caught up in semantics, apparently believing that gays and lesbians should be allowed to engage in civil unions with all the rights of marriage, as long as they aren’t called marriages. That’s an evasion that was rightly rejected in May by the California Supreme Court when it overturned a previous ban on same-sex marriage, because such semantic distinctions tend to cast doubt on a union’s legitimacy.
At the time of Obama’s birth in 1961, some states would not have allowed his interracial parents to marry. He, of all people, should know better.”
We’re told by Prop 8 proponents that heterosexual marriage is the cornerstone of society because this is the only way children can be brought into the world. I expect to see another Constitutional amendment entitled, “Put Churches in Charge of All Marriages Committee.” Leading this committee might be such experts on religion and sex as Catholic Cardinal Roger Mahoney and evangelist Ted Haggard.
Kate Kendell, executive director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, stated that the court was holding the hearing very quickly after receiving the final briefs. In fact, many agree that the whole appeal process has been on a fast track. Only 15 days after the November 4 election, the California Supreme Court agreed to hear the legal challenges to Proposition 8 and set an expedited schedule. On January 15, 43 friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Court to invalidate Prop 8 were filed. The basic argument is that Prop 8 drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California’s Constitution and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote. Briefing in the case was completed on January 21. Observed Ms. Kendell, “…(the February 3 announcement gives me) that clench in your stomach where it actually now makes it real.”
Thinking strategically there could be a group called “California Real Estate Agents for Market Stability.” They would want a constitutional amendment to reinstate clauses in all real estate deeds which would deny the sale of real estate to Negroes, Jews and Armenians. Said a spokesperson, “With the real estate market in upheaval, we feel that at this it would be valuable to reinstate these deeds restrictions to help preserve the market value of home prices in California.”
The challenges to Prop 8 reflect the May 2008, California Supreme Court decision, which held that laws that treat people differently based on their sexual orientation violate the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. In that 4-3 ruling, the Court declared that the state Constitution protects a fundamental “right to marry” that extends equally to same-sex couples, adding that all California couples had a “basic civil right” to marry “without regard to their sexual orientation.”
A committee such as the “Equal Access for Everyone” Committee, could ready a constitutional amendment to repeal the Unruh Civil Rights Act as regards the disabled. A spokesperson related: “Basically, it is unfair to have one group of citizens receive special treatment just because they are disabled. It is very expensive to force developers to make buildings and public areas safe, secure and accessible for the disabled. In these trying economic times, the State budget could be trimmed dramatically by stopping these kinds of extras.”
The 43 friend-of-the-court briefs urging the Court to invalidate Prop 8 were filed, arguing that Prop 8 drastically alters the equal protection guarantee in California’s Constitution and that the rights of a minority cannot be eliminated by a simple majority vote, include:
- Attorneys for Anti-Defamation League,
- Chapman University Organizations,
- California Teachers Association,
- Professors of State Constitutional Law,
- The Constitutional Law Center of the Monterey College of Law,
- County of San Francisco,
- City of Berkeley,Religious Society of Friends,
- The California Catholic Conference,
- Current and Former California Legislators,
- California Council of Churches,
- Faith in America Inc.,
- San Francisco La Raza Lawyers Association,
- Marriage Equality USA,
- Human Rights Watch,
- Asian Pacific American Legal Center,
- National Organization for Marriage California in Support,
- Alameda County Bar Association,
- Professors of Family Law,
- Constitutional and Civil Rights Law Professors,
- The Civil Rights Forum,
- League of Women Voters of California,
- San Francisco Chamber of Commerce,
- Beverly Hills Bar Association,
- Our Family Coalition and Colage,
- Love Honor Cherish,
- Children’s Law Center of Los Angeles,
- American Center for Law and Justice ßCA,
- National Organization for Women and The Feminist Majority,
- Jewish Family Service of Los Angeles,
- Council of Churches and California Federation of Labor,
The constitution demands equal treatment. The California Supreme Court needs to reaffirm its decision of last May and strike down Prop 8.