California’s Fight Over Equal Rights

California’s Proposition 8 — which, according to the New York Times was possibly one of the most expensive ballot measures ever contested, with a combined spending of almost $74 million from both opponents and proponents — sought to amend California’s Constitution to limit marriage to unions between a man and a woman, overturning a California Supreme Court decision recognizing same-sex marriages as a fundamental right, and it appears that the majority of California voters voted to pass the discriminatory proposition.

In typical political fashion, lies, propaganda and scare tactics were utilized in efforts to sway public opinion, including, but not limited to, asserting that public schools would be indoctrinated into accepting gay marriage against their parents’ wishes, churches would be sanctioned for not performing same-sex weddings and the institution of marriage would be irreparably harmed. The proposition has been reported as passing with 52% voting yes and 48% voting no. The Mormon Church spent almost $20 million to encourage passage of the bill. Lawyers and civil rights groups say Proposition 8 appears to be illegal and they may be right.

It’s rather interesting, in a hypocritical sort or way, to watch a U.S. Senator talk about how wrong it is to amend and rewrite the Constitution to destroy civil rights, when Congress has repeatedly passed illegal ‘legislation’ that amends the Constitution and totally destroys civil rights and freedoms — the Patriot Act, The FISA legislation, immunity for telecoms who willingly and knowingly spied on Americans illegally, etc. — while denouncing discrimination.

Passage of the bill has been attributed to record turnout of African-American voters by the press, an explanation that has been shot down by The Daily Kos. It’s ironic that a majority of voters in California voted for an African-American President, then apparently turned around and narrowly voted to discriminate against gays.

Lawsuits Filed to Challenge Proposition 8

Three lawsuits were filed to block or overturn Proposition 8, including one from The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Lambda Legal, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and a few other legal offices who filed a writ petition in the California Supreme Court charging that Proposition 8 is invalid because the initiative process was improperly used in an attempt to undo the Constitution’s core commitment to equality for everyone by eliminating a fundamental right from just one group — lesbian and gay Californians. Proposition 8 also improperly attempts to prevent the courts from exercising their essential Constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities. Proposition 8 appears to be Unconstitutional since California’s Constitution requires such radical changes to the organizing principles of State Government be made in the State Legislature first, not by a simple majority vote.

Proposition 8 was supposed to annul the marriages of the previously married gay couples, but questions pertaining to previously married gay couples were answered by California Attorney General Jerry Brown who said that the state must continue to honor the marriages of the 18,000 lesbian and gay couples who have already married in California. A copy of the statement and a copy of the writ petition are available at the ACLU web site. That fight will probably end up in the California Supreme Court too.

Other lawsuits involve six unmarried same-sex couples and the advocacy group Equality California, a couple who married shortly after gay couples were legally allowed to marry and the cities of San Francisco and Los Angeles, joined by Santa Clara County. All the suits were filed to block and overturn Proposition 8, and the cases could eventually land in the U.S. Supreme Court. More information on the various lawsuits can be found from The ACLU, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Californian and KSBW Action 8 News.

Mormons Fought Hard For Passage of Proposition 8

The Mormon Church spent about $20 million to defeat Proposition 8. The Mormons — as well as a few other religions led by male clergies who have problems with molesting young males — seem to have a history of problems with discrimination and equal rights. The Mormons fought hard to sway passage of Proposition 8. Proponents of Proposition 8 claim they have nothing against gays and argue that marriage should be between a man and a woman only. Quite contrarily, discriminating against gay marriage is a major something, far from nothing.

So, as asked by Gene Stone from The Huffington Post, if the Mormons have the ability to decide who among us has the right to marry and who among us doesn’t, don’t the rest of us have that same right? For years Mormons have encouraged marrying often, having many wives at one time so they obviously have issues with marriage. Why shouldn’t the rest of us decide if Mormons have the right to marry?

Opponents of Proposition 8 aren’t happy about it passing and vow to fight it. There have been many protests involving thousands of people in several cities and there will be many more. Some say it’s an attempt to create second-class citizenry. Melissa Etheridge says she won’t be paying her state taxes since she’s not a full citizen, and not being given the same rights. Others are mentioning boycotting Mormon-owned businesses including Denny’s and Marriott’s.

I couldn’t agree more. It’s a sad day when a small majority of California voters decide to take civil rights away instead of expanding them. Eventually equality will prevail. Until then, the battle rages on.

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