Now and then I am lulled into the false reality that as a group, humans have acheived some degree of enlightenment. Then I remember that we are still actively and legally descriminating against each other and I am brought crashing back to earth. In this case, I'm talking about marriage descrimination, specifically, marriage descrimination for same-sex couples.
Actually, in the state of California, we officially stopped the descrimination on June 17, 2008. Unfortunately, Prop 8, which seeks to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry, will be on the ballot in November. Eliminating the rights of adults who want to participate in marriage, a legal institution which provides financial, social, and emotional benefits not available through domestic partnerships (which were legalized in 1999), is not only wrong, but morally reprehensible. Same-sex couples already have the right to marry legally in California, and Prop 8 seeks to eliminate that right.
Here's the deal. In 2000, California voters approved Proposition 22, which stated that "only marriage between a man and a woman is considered valid and recognized in California." Despite this, in 2004, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom mandated the issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in San Francisco, which resulted in almost 4000 marriages. These marriages were later annulled by the California Supreme Court, and the city of San Francisco began a legal challenge on behalf of these couples which led to the May 2008 California Supreme Court ruling that limiting marriage of same-sex couples was unconstitutional. The court refused to stay its order, and as of June 17, 2008, same-sex couples have the legal right to marry in California.
Between June 17 and September 2008, over 11,000 same-sex couples have legally married in California, and by November, there will be many more. These marriages are recognized and valid, and they are no different from marriages between opposite-sex couples. Furthermore, if Prop 8 passes, these marriages will almost certainly remain valid, as constitutional scholars agree that the amendment proposed in Prop 8 will not be retroactive. That means that even if Prop 8 passes, thousands of same-sex couples who are already legally married in California will remain legally married. Which is as it should be.
As the election approaches, I will be writing more about this issue, as I am very passionate about it. Let there be no mistake: Prop 8 does not protect marriage. It eliminates the fundamental rights of human beings.