5.16.2008

california supreme court says all people are equal

In case you haven't heard, yesterday the California Supreme Court ruled that constitutional principles demand that marriage be open to same-sex couples. This is a very significant decision. California's Supreme Court is one of the most influential courts in the US, and has been a bellwether for many important social changes.

From Matt Coles, Director of the ACLU LGBT & AIDS Project, who writes the ACLU blog Get Busy, Get Equal:
We won the marriage case in California. No need for hyperbole here; this is big; big in terms of what it does, big in terms of what it means, and big in terms of the opportunity for progress it gives us (I’ll suggest some of the ways to take advantage of that opportunity below).

Simply having the California Supreme Court say that constitutional principles demand that marriage be open to same-sex couples is an enormous win. This Court has a remarkable history of leadership on civil rights and civil liberties. It made landmark decisions on race and sex discrimination, on freedom of speech and privacy, and on treatment of the disabled and poor people long before the U.S. Supreme Court. No court in America has more authority to say that marriage for same-sex couples is an issue of basic freedom than this one.

And as the New York Times recently pointed out, the California Supreme Court is the most influential state high court in America. If you'd like to read it, here’s the decision.

Marriage in California will transform the discussion of marriage nationwide. California has one of the largest economies in the world. Given the state’s economic clout, the fact that California is marrying same-sex couples will put considerable pressure on the rest of the country to recognize those marriages.

Even more important, the rest of the country recognizes that California is America's cultural trendsetter, that cultural change in California is usually a preview of what is to come in the rest of the United States. Most Americans already believe that marriage for same-sex couples is bound to happen sooner or later. I think marriage in California will help persuade many of them that this is an issue of basic fairness, and that the time for it is now.

This was a prize of inestimable value.

Now, of course, we have to hold on to it. It appears fairly certain that anti-gay forces have gotten enough signatures to put on the November ballot an initiative that would amend the state Constitution and overrule the decision.

That initiative is scary. We lost a different vote on marriage only eight years ago. And our opponents, recognizing that marriage in California is a great prize, will fight with all their might. They’ll put everything they have into this. Which means that to win, we'll have to raise a great deal of money and run a very smart campaign.

Full post with links here.

2 comments:

John said...

My only regrets about equal marriage in Canada are that we didn't legalize it sooner, and that our government took the coward's way out, letting the Supreme Court rule on it rather than proactively introducing legislation.

It looks like Schwarzenegger took the same approach. Still, it's wonderful that it happened at all!

MSS said...

I believe 6 of the 7 justices are Republicans, which makes it all the better.

Of course, to "heartland" GOP types, it only shows how out of touch California is with good old mainstream American values.

Makes me proud to be a Californian.