The following is an idea that I’ve had in the file for months — I figured I’d get around to it eventually. But all the controversy surrounding the overturning of California’s Proposition 8 kind of brings it to the front burner.
To recap the situation for non-Californians and/or people who don’t follow sexual politics: in November 2008, Golden State voters, by a small margin (52% to 48%) passed Proposition 8, aka “the California Marriage Protection Act.” It amended the state constitution’s Declaration of Rights, saying that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” The proposition overturned a California Supreme Court ruling from earlier in the year, allowing people of the same sex to marry. (Full disclosure: I voted for it, too.) Needless to say, Proposition 8’s victory generated some controversy among homosexual activists and those who support them, many of whom were quite vehement in their denunciation of the vote.
(As an aside, you know who probably was most responsible for Proposition 8 passing? Barack Obama. No, really. Obama’s presence on the ballot, naturally, caused a huge increase in the number of African-Americans going to the polls that election — and African-Americans voted in favor of Proposition 8 by something like a 7-to-1 margin. Bet you’ll never hear Keith Olbermann or Sean Penn bring that up. Or, for that matter, Bill O’Reilly or Randy Thomasson …)
Well, the opponents of Proposition 8 sued, and last week federal district court judge Vaughn Walker ruled the proposition unconstitutional, citing the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. (The Fourteenth Amendment, incidentally, was voted into the Constitution during Reconstruction to protect newly freed black slaves. That 7-to-1 margin makes more sense now, doesn’t it?) However, at present he hasn’t formally entered his ruling and is allowing for further motions from both sides.
So now supporters of Proposition 8 — including most American evangelicals — are the ones up in arms, decrying the ruling as an attack on the institution of marriage. One person I’ve read said that pretty soon one will legally be able to marry one’s dog or cat, at the rate things are going. (No, I’m not kidding, someone said that!) Regardless, the case is expected to be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals, and whoever loses there will undoubtedly appeal it again to the Supreme Court; that’s how these things usually go.
In the midst of all this, I have a question: What is the definition of a marriage?
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