Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A more perfect union

History will shame the California Supreme Court’s support of marriage inequality. Of course, being on the side of history is cold comfort in the harsh reality of injustice today. The wait for progress at times seems unbearable. But it is coming. There will be setbacks and roadblocks; it will be slow and uneven. We must demand it at every turn and fight for it with all we have. But progress is coming, it always does.

The jumble of a ruling by the state’s highest court yesterday only serves to highlight the inherent inequality of banning gay marriage. In essence, the court created three classes of citizen in California. Gays who got married when it was legal. Gays who aren’t allowed to get married now that it’s illegal again. Straights who can get married anytime they damn well please. It makes no sense and yet there it is. Hello, separate, but in no way equal.

I am thrilled for the 18,000 couples who get to stay married. To be forcibly divorced by the government seems cruel beyond the realm of unusual. But if good timing is all that matters between “I do” and “I don’t” in the eyes of the state, how is this fair? Justice is supposed to be blind, not arbitrary.

I guess what always seems so simultaneously absurd and enraging about this “fight” is that it is about marriage in the first place. While we may have our personal problems with the institution, its origins and intent, I think we can probably all agree that its best it should always be about love. No piece of paper can ever invalidate the human heart. No judge can ever gavel away affection. So we continue, as we always have, to make our own families and follow our own rules. As we continue toward that more perfect union, we know that our unions are perfect and no different than anyone else’s. And, one day, California and the rest of America will know it, too.

22 comments:

Jae said...

A devastating blow but I must say I'm not at all surprised. Happy for the couples that will stay married, I'm left feeling like less of a human being and depressed that I hadn't found and married that special someone in the, what, 4 months it was legal?

At times I want to just beat someone and give up, other times I see a hateful anti-gay comment and I want to beat someone and prove them wrong.

We have 5 states, we will win this in CA...someday we will be human again.

Nina said...

Dorothy! It's lovely to hear your voice on this. I'm on the other side of the world and 14 hours ago I woke up to this news as a quick headline, and I rushed to my favourite American voices and the people I knew would be most effected, but it must have been so soon after the announcement that no one had yet blogged or otherwise commented, and I've spent all day wondering what went on, and how people have reacted, and what will happen now.
So this is just a thank you note, for reminding us that there are voices of reason and voices of love out there on this earth.
N

CAB said...

It's sad that so many ignorant people could willingly remove the rights of a minority group. The CA court just approved the rule of the majority to dictate what rigts the minority are entitled to.

What's next? Maybe all those people who voted for Prop 8 should worry what rights they have that could be taken away in a similar fashion/ballot measure

Anonymous said...

An unpleasant blow to our cause, but the Supremes actually ruled on the issue of the peoples right to change their constitution via majority vote. The issue of rights and equality was not a point of law upon which the decision was made. The only issue of law that they decided was that the people can alter their constitution in California. All minorities are at risk now, as they ruling suggests that if the people of California wanted to they could now ban red heads from wearing blue tennis shoes, or ban lefties from serving in public office, or ban Mormons from recruiting others using TV ads... this ruling makes it clear that the California constitution may be manipulated by any majority group against any unpopular minority at any time, until this gap is closed.

I pray for the day when California and the entire nation enshrine equality into the constitutions in a meaningful way that is not vulnerable to popular culture or the whims of the majority.

Julie Darling - An american living in Canada. And legally married here. What a blessing it is to be treated equally under ALL the laws in Canada.

Anonymous said...

I'm just glad I live in a country where it was done years ago, without anyone making much of a fuss about it. Before I came out, even. Not that I feel any desire to get married myself, but there's no need to explain here what a difference equal rights make anyway.

That being said, I'm sure it's coming, too. Even the pioneering countries haven't had equal rights for that long yet, and at least the changes have started. There's no way back now, however much some people would like that. I think it's encouraging to remember the acceptance of interracial marriages, not that long ago. A lot of people were screaming blue murder then but nobody is trying to turn that back now (a few sad extremists aside maybe, but nobody pays them any heed), and for most people it isn't an issue at all anymore. It's just a matter of time before the same thing happens for us Gays, and probably not that long of a time either. Keep courage!

Sarah said...

Well said!! I can only hope that one day the daugter that my partner and I brought into this world will get to see and experience the equality that we all diserve! In Indiana we are way behind the times and will most likey be one of the last hold outs on gay marrige/civil unions, but if a state like California can get their heads out of their asses and make it right once, perhaps it will happen again! Then the ball can start rolling in the right direction again! Look at Iowa...EVERYONE if Iowa can do it, we all can!!!

You have a great voice Dorthy Snarker...speak loudly!

Linda said...

tut, tut, California. just you go and sit on the naughty step and think about what you've done. then come back when you're ready to say sorry, and we can all move on.

PS at what point in the proceedings will LGBT Californians be entitled to vote on the 'right' of heterosexuals to get married? just wonderin'...

Sam said...

It's time for some legislation to start taxing churches. Hit the mormons and catholics (who funded Prop 8) where it hurts: the coffers.

Josephine said...

I have to agree with the person who pointed out that this decision wasn't about whether gays deserve equality...the court ruled on that last year. It was about the fact that California's system allows "the people" to infringe upon the rights of others. California's system is broken. Other states make it much, much harder to amend their Constitutions, while California has passed more than 500 amendments, including a few that were clearly unconstitutional under federal law and doomed to be overturned. Each one of these proposition battles costs millions of dollars to a state already in debt, not to mention that cititzens have to donate if they want their side to win. So there are more ballot measures ahead. Maybe Californians will win the right to marry back in 2010, then lose it again in 2011. Good luck fixing your political system, California!

Anonymous said...

"Justice is supposed to be blind, not arbitrary."
Totally love this statement.

Anonymous said...

It's a stupid ruling that put the proposition system of California (an out of control and stupid way of running a State)above the State Constitution. What, so now every right is up to popular vote? Idiotic and Cowardly decision. They had an opportunity to stand up and be an example of clear legal thinking.

However, I know eventually and really relatively soon (a few years?) we will have marriage equality.

It's interesting to listen to the strained broken logic of prejudice speaking in the ruling and people talking about "protecting marriage". So f'ed up.

Hope by the time my daughter is old enough to know more, we'll have the option to do what anyone else who is partnered can do.

jenn levo said...

I fear that until we take the word "marriage" out of the legislation we put before voters, this measure will never pass hands down across the united states. This is because people are always going to equate "marriage" with what their church/religion says. And as history proves, arguing religion is a sticky and treacherous matter. As a result, we need to take "marriage" out of the government and our law books and replace it with "civil union". So basically, everyone, regardless of sex gets a civil union with the same rights and liberties. You want a "marriage" too? Bring that up with your church at a later point in time.

EG said...

"No piece of paper can ever invalidate the human heart. No judge can ever gavel away affection."

--Phenomenal few lines.

Beyond this ruling being utterly unsurprising, while being simultaneously paradoxical, you're absolutely right-- it does need to be about love. Unfortunately, it isn't. As we find ourselves in the midst of one of the most profound battles in the cyclical waves of human/civil rights, all we can do is keep fighting.

Recognizing freely who we are, the community we adore, and having absolutely no regrets about the individuals to whom we give ourselves.

It will change someday. Until then-- keep writing-- your voice is assertive, witty and an absolute joy to read.

EG

Microkritter said...

I find the decision to be ridiculous. But I'm also wondering what exactly the difference is between letting those who were married remain that way, and letting others get married? As far as I know God hasn't smited any gay married couples yet. So why not let a few more do it?

Melinda Barton said...

Take "marriage" out of the legislation?

I'm a Reform Jew. Both the Central Conference of American Rabbis and the Union of American Hebrew Congregations resolved in the late 90's to oppose governmental restrictions on gay marriage. In 2000, the CCAR voted to allow rabbis to perform the actual Jewish marriage ritual for gay couples. (The kiddushin thing is kind of complicated.)

Anyway, if we take the word "marriage" out of the equation in deference to "religion" as many politicians, including the President, have suggested, we allow a subset of Christian denominations to become the government-approved "official" religion of this country. We would also say that my religion and so many others are invalid and unworthy of recognition in the United States.

Personally, I would not readily surrender my 1st amendment rights any more than I would readily surrender my 14th amendment rights, the basis upon which equal rights and equal protection stand.

Anonymous said...

I'm just saying. If you read history - Progressives make the world a better place, and it's the conservatives who gave us the dark ages (e.g. Flagellants, Witch hunts, book burnings etc.) Unfortunately. *Sigh* There'll always be conservatives around in this world. :( but... light will prevail over darkness! I do believe that in the fight for equality, we'll succeed! (No matter how long it takes.)

Miss Kris said...

Free Gay Marriage Stickers:

http://lesbiandaily.blogspot.com/2009/05/equality-stickers.html

Anonymous said...

There will be change in CA. Olson and Boies, two attys. that were on opposite sides of G.W. Bush v. A. Gore, have united to fight the ban. With high profile attys and opponents now united, those narrow-minded bigots will be defeated. How can you pay taxes and have fewer rights than illegal immigrants? As soon as the military eliminates "don't ask, don't tell" all will fall into place.

Norma Desmond said...

Personally, I just continue to be amused by the fact that Iowa is now more progressive than California. One would think that alone would be enough to get Californians on their feet and behind the cause.

Snooker said...

Tiny steps... tiny steps.
Actually it would be nice to just get a federal ruling on this thing and throw out DOMA.

Four years ago I had to leave America's shores to be with my love across the Atlantic. If one of us had a male appendage, I wouldn't have had to leave my home, family and career for love.

Here in Germany I have the rights I never could get in America - the Land of the Free - so here I am, and here I will stay.

Lorraine said...

Like Anonymous and Josephine pointed out, the state Supreme Court didn't rule specifically for or against gay marriage -- they already did that 4-3 by saying that our state's constitution made it unconstitutional to ban gay marriage (and the opposing 3 said it should be up to the voters, not that it shouldn't be done), but our constitution allows a constitutional amendment by a majority vote and thus the constitution was amended to make banning same-sex marriage constitutional. There really is nothing more that the supreme court can do about it. Based on the rule of law they made the only logical legal choice. It is especially telling that they unanimously upheld the existing same-sex marriages and I for one am glad that we have reasonable judges in our state's high court. It is up to us as citizens to vote for sound decisions that affect the laws they uphold.

By the way I found the responses of this Q&A rather amusingly snarky: Q&A: Answering your questions about the Prop. 8 decision

TheWeyrd1 said...

Well said.