Thursday, November 06, 2008

The fat lady has yet to sing on this one

Along with the hopeful euphoria of Obama's election came the sobering slap in the face of California's Proposition 8 passing. From an overwhelmingly "blue" state came the first ever amendment to a state constitution removing rights already granted. This is embarrassing to me as a Californian, far beyond the mere disappointment of losing an election, it's major step backwards in the civil rights battle that helped bring Obama to the White House.

But there are two things I'm focusing on the remain hopeful that, although we just lost a major battle, we will eventually win the war.

First: Prop 8 barely passed, with votes still being counted till late on Wednesday before an official result was announced. Compare this to the 2002 "defense of marriage" ballot proposition that passed with 61% of the vote. Despite the loss, many minds have been changed over a relatively short period of time.

A few years of "domestic partnerships" and a few months of same-sex marriage have managed to convince a large part of California's electorate that the world won't end, and their own marriages will not be damaged, by extending the marriage right to all law abiding, competent adult citizens.

This is a hopeful sign, because the real battle is just beginning. Which brings us to the second point:

Marriages that are recognized in some states, but not in others, are tainted anyway, and eventually this will need to be answered at the federal level. The lawsuits already filed as a result of Proposition 8 may be the key to that. And, if they are challenged all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, by the time they reach that level, President Obama may have appointed one or two new justices.

Our state Attorney General, Jerry Brown, has said that, once challenged, it will be his job to defend Proposition 8, and that he will do his job - even though he opposed its passing. But he also said that, since there's no language in Proposition 8 making it retroactive, he will defend the 18,000 same-sex couples who were legally married to retain their marriage.

This pretty much guarantees that there will be legal challenges from both sides: Gay and lesbian couples who are now not allowed to marry, and Prop 8 supporters who are upset that there are still 18,000 legal gay marriages among their neighbors.

The forces of progress may have lost this one proposition battle (due in large part to deceptive advertising and intervention by religious forces from outside California), but time and history are on the side of marriage equality.

I'm not giving up just yet. Like somebody else has been saying lately, "Yes we can." Fire it up! Ready to go!

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