Monday, March 14, 2005

Run For the Hills Folks...

The wingnuts will be in quite a tizzy tonight. While, this will undoubtedly be sent to the California Supreme Court on appeal, this is a huge developement in the U.S.'s cultural war.

Update: Top ten reasons to ban gay marraige H/T DA

Judge Says Calif. Can't Ban Gay Marriage

By LISA LEFF, Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO - A judge ruled Monday that California's ban on gay marriage is unconstitutional, saying the state could no longer justify limiting marriage to a man and a woman.

In the eagerly awaited opinion likely to be appealed to the state's highest court, San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said that withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians is unconstitutional.

"It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners," Kramer wrote.

The judge wrote that the state's historical definition of marriage, by itself, cannot justify the denial of equal protection for gays and lesbians.

"The state's protracted denial of equal protection cannot be justified simply because such constitutional violation has become traditional," Kramer wrote.

Kramer ruled in lawsuits brought by the city of San Francisco and a dozen same-sex couples last March. The suits were brought after the California Supreme Court halted a four-week marriage spree that Mayor Gavin Newsom had initiated in February 2004 when he directed city officials to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians in defiance of state law.

The plaintiffs said withholding marriage licenses from gays and lesbians trespasses on the civil rights all citizens are guaranteed under the California Constitution.

(Full Story)


Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Tempest in a teapot.

I have a question- can Churches be sued for what are perceived to be civil rights violations? Does that apply to church doctrine?

I'm not sure, but I seem to recall a church being sued for not hiring an employee of another faith, etc.

Dingo said...

no, churches are exempt from hiring persons of other faiths. But, this law has not always been in effect, so if there was a case, it was probably sometime in the 70's or 80's.

This is one of the augments against the "faith based initiatives." A church can pretty much legally discriminate. So, unless you convert, you can't ever get a job with that charitable organization.

MaxedOutMama said...

Dingo, isn't there a another case that is already pending before the CA Supreme Court on this issue? I thought there was one stemming from Newsom's decision already. Obviously the CA SC is going to have to decide this.

I'm pretty sure there was some sort of case in CA in which it was ruled that a religious hospital had to offer insurance benefits to same-sex partners. I'll have to look. CA already has laws offering some benefits to domestic partners.

Smoke Eater said...

One problem I have is that judges (who DO NOT answer to the people) are making decisions that the legislature should make. While I personally disagree with gay marriage, if the ELECTED legislature decides to make this decision and the people (a majority of them anyway) approve, I will still disagree, but I will live with it (that's TOLERANCE). My problem is this could (and probably will) lead to Churches being FORCED to accept a union they see as illegitimate and SINFUL! That WOULD be a violation of the first ammendment (or 'church and state').

Second, a Church CAN discriminate based on your faith, but an independent charity (no matter who sponsors it) CAN NOT discriminate on who they hire or who they help. As I have commented here before, I have worked with more than 3 charities that are directly tied to the Baptist Church, but I worked with many people of other faiths, and we helped ANYONE who needed it. We did talk about our faith to those people who ASKED US about it, otherwise we stuck to simply HELPING THEM!

I'm not saying people in these organizations get "over zealous" and try to "force" their faith on people, and that IS a bad way to run a charity, but that's NOT a reason to judge all of us, all right?

Boomr said...

First: A lot of judges are elected, which is a big problem. Judges SHOULDN'T answer to the people -- the application of the law is not "majority rules," like other democratic measures. The law is in place to ensure the rights of the MINORITY, so it's a damn good thing when judges don't answer to the people. Otherwise, it's just mob rule. They should answer to the law, and only the law, no matter what the people think. If the people don't like it, they can get their ELECTED legislators to change the law -- at which point the judges will have to follow the new law.

Second: No matter what happens with these court decisions, nothing will be forced upon the churches. That means that no church will be forced to marry gay people, or even have gay people attend services on on the sabbath. Even now, a church can refuse to marry anyone it wants -- there's no legally protected right to get married IN A PARTICULAR PLACE. So no need to fear the invasion of the Queer Eye crew to make over Fellowship Hall.

This is the biggest problem I have with the opposition to gay marriage, when that opposition is based upon religion. YOUR religion says it's a sin -- fine, don't do it yourself, because your beliefs say it's wrong. But SOMEONE ELSE'S religion or beliefs may not say the same thing. I don't see these same opponents of gay marriage seeking to ban the practice of other religions, so why would they seek to ban a practice THAT DOES NOT AFFECT THEM? That's right, folks -- whether gay people get married will not in the slightest way affect straight people and their religious beliefs.

This "sanctity of marriage" talk is just nonsense. Since more than half of all marriages in the US end in divorce, the institution of marriage is hardly sacrosanct to the common American. In addition, what another person does has no effect on what I can do -- so, my choice to marry a woman will not be lessened, nor will my commitment be reduced by any discernible degree, if someone else chooses to marry someone of the same sex.

The "historical definition" of marriage is also pretty much discountable. Marriage has historically adapted to fit the times. Henry VIII began an entirely new religion based upon his desire to end one marriage and begin another. Some cultures and religions allow men to marry multiple women, some allow women to marry multiple men. Some require that upon the death of the husband, the wife should throw herself on a pyre. "Historically," marriage between people of different races was against the law for purely racist reasons (called "miscegenation of blood," popular laws in the South in the early-to-mid 20th century). For many hundreds of years, marriage could only be performed by the clergy, yet pretty much after the Renaissance, marriage was performed by the state with or without church consent. The "marriageable age" has changed over time -- it used to be common practice for people (especially women) to be married in their early teens (see Romeo & Juliet -- they were thought to be about 14 and 13, respectively). Different states have different laws relating to what degree of familial relations can intermarry (it will surprise a lot of you to know that more states NORTH of the Mason-Dixon line allow first cousins to marry than states south of it). For most of the last few thousand years, wives were considered chattel "owned" by their husbands -- it was only in the late 1970s that a wife could sue in her own name in state courts in Louisiana without having her husband bring suit on her behalf.

The point is, the concept of marriage (like many other concepts of law) is constantly in flux. We're just witnessing another small change, and that change will not wreak the untold havoc that opponents of the measure claim.

Boomr said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Michael said...

Good comments, boomr. You hit the same three points I was going to make: 1) judges should not answer to the mob, as that is one of the corners of the check-and-balance triangle (even though the Bushies would like to just eliminate that pesky restriction; 2) no church is required to perform a ceremony which it does not recognize; and 3) SINCE IT DOESN'T EVEN AFFECT ANYONE ELSE, WHY DO THE OPPONENTS EVEN CARE? Man, just live and let live, eh?

Oh, for a truly free society...