Thursday, May 15, 2008


[NOTE: Updates below include reactions from the Clinton and Obama camps, Nancy Pelosi and NYC Council Speaker Christine Quinn]

GREAT NEWS! The Supreme Court of California in its infinite wisdom has overturned a ban on same-sex marriages and paved the way for the state to become the second in the United States to allow same-sex partners to marry. Arthur Leonard says "The ruling is sweeping. Prop 22 is unconstitutional, as is the refusal to recognize lawfully contracted same-sex marriages from out of state."

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger says he will fight an initiative to amend the California Constitution to ban gay marriage if it qualifies for the November ballot. It'll be interesting to see how the decision will play in the presidential election.

Photo above by Derek Powazek. You can buy reprints at Ephemera.

From the 4-3 decision: In the present case, it is readily apparent that extending the designation of marriage to same-sex couples clearly is more consistent with the probable legislative intent than withholding that designation from both opposite-sex couples and same-sex couples in favor of some other, uniform designation. In view of the lengthy history of the use of the term “marriage” to describe the family relationship here at issue, and the importance that both the supporters of the 1977 amendment to the marriage statutes and the electors who voted in favor of Proposition 22 unquestionably attached to the designation of marriage, there can be no doubt that extending the designation of marriage to same-sex couples, rather than denying it to all couples, is the equal protection remedy that is most consistent with our state’s general legislative policy and preference.

Accordingly, in light of the conclusions we reach concerning the constitutional questions brought to us for resolution, we determine that the language of section 300 limiting the designation of marriage to a union “between a man and a woman” is unconstitutional and must be stricken from the statute, and that the remaining statutory language must be understood as making the designation of marriage available both to opposite-sex and same-sex couples. In addition, because the limitation of marriage to opposite-sex couples imposed by section 308.5 can have no constitutionally permissible effect in light of the constitutional conclusions set forth in this opinion, that provision cannot stand.

Plaintiffs are entitled to the issuance of a writ of mandate directing the appropriate state officials to take all actions necessary to effectuate our ruling in this case so as to ensure that county clerks and other local officials throughout the state, in performing their duty to enforce the marriage statutes in their jurisdictions, apply those provisions in a manner consistent with the decision of this court. Further, as the prevailing parties, plaintiffs are entitled to their costs.

The judgment of the Court of Appeal is reversed, and the matter is remanded to that court for further action consistent with this opinion.

UPDATE #1: Governor Schwarzenneger just released the following statement “I respect the Court’s decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.”

In the meantime there are reports that CNN erred when reporting on the ruling this morning and initially said that the Court had ruled in favor of a state constitutional ban on gay marriages. A new low for a channel that I used to respect years ago.

UPDATE #2: My friend Mike Rogers has the full CNN video clip at PageOneQ.


Statement from Hilary Clinton's campaign:
Hillary Clinton believes that gay and lesbian couples in committed relationships should have the same rights and responsibilities as all Americans and believes that civil unions are the best way to achieve this goal. As President, Hillary Clinton will work to ensure that same sex couples have access to these rights and responsibilities at the federal level. She has said and continues to believe that the issue of marriage should be left to the states.

Statement from Barack Obama's campaign:
Barack Obama has always believed that same-sex couples should enjoy equal rights under the law, and he will continue to fight for civil unions as President. He respects the decision of the California Supreme Court, and continues to believe that states should make their own decisions when it comes to the issue of marriage.

Note that the above statements are campaign statements and not necessarily the candidates going on record.

Nancy Pelosi:
I welcome the California Supreme Court’s historic decision. I have long fought against discrimination and believe that the State Constitution provides for equal treatment for all of California’s citizens and families, which today’s decision recognizes.

I commend the plaintiffs from San Francisco for their courage and commitment. I encourage California citizens to respect the Court’s decision, and I continue to strongly oppose any ballot measure that would write discrimination into the State Constitution.

Today is a significant milestone for which all Californians can take pride.

New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn:
I applaud the California Supreme Court for lifting its ban on gay marriage and upholding the fundamental and universal rights of civil equality and equal protection.

While this is a tremendous victory in our fight for equal rights, we must carry on with our efforts toward making marriage equality a reality in the state of New York. I implore every member of the New York State Legislature to place equal rights ahead of politics and end discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people by conferring the right to marry to same-sex couples.

History has repeatedly shown that the arch of equality always bends towards justice. I know that, soon enough, LGBT New Yorkers will have the right to marry.

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