04 August 2010

If you disapproved of today's Prop 8 court ruling, the rest of the world awaits you!

The backstory:

This afternoon in the case Perry v. Schwarzenegger, Judge Vaughn Walker of the US District Court for the 9th circuit overturned Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative from 2008 that invalidated all same-sex marriages. Proposition 8 followed the California Supreme Court decision In re Marriage Cases from May 2008 that threw out Proposition 22, the 2000 state ballot initiative that restricted marriage to between a man and a woman. The state high court case from 2008 ruled that marriage is a fundamental right based on Article 1, Section 7 of the state constitution. In 1977, the state legislature (under Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown, who's running again for governorship this year!) amended Section 4100 of the California Civil Code to define marriage as a social contract strictly between a man and a woman; before then the law was not that specific. (Since 1992, marriage law has been in Section 300 of the state Family Code.) Originally, Proposition 22 argued that California would recognise other states' same-sex marriages given a loophole in Section 308 in the Family Code. In re Marriage Cases tossed both Proposition 22 and the 1977 amendment to the state marriage law.

After what would be a summer of joy for many Californian same-sex couples, many of whom had been waiting decades to marry, the autumn and eventually the Election Day of early November 2008 arrived. Television stations in California had been bombarded with commercials in favour of and against Proposition 8.

The first-ever ad promoting Proposition 8 excerpted a speech by San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom. This ad took Newsom's phrase "whether you like it or not" in Newsom's speech announcing the In re Marriage Cases case and promoted these typical anti-equality talking points: judges overruled the people's vote, everyone has to tolerate same-sex marriage, and churches might lose their freedoms.

One of the pro-8 ads was from the organization ProtectMarriage.com, which claimed that schoolchildren would have to read books that glorified same-sex relationships:

Another ad argued that public schools would begin teaching that homosexuality was OK:

Another ad regarding schools and marriage

now for some ads from the anti-8 side. This ad was from the Courage Campaign depicting Mormons as home invaders stealing a lesbian couple's wedding rings. I never saw it on TV, but I found it from a youtube search of proposition 8 ads:

Another one that I think I have seen on TV before is the ad that mocked the Apple Computer Mac vs. PC ads

This ad invoked 20th century racial discrimination

Dianne Feinstein, a US Senator of California, spoke in one advert opposing P8:

Countering the pro-8 ads about school curriculum and homosexuality, Education Superintendent Jack O'Connell starred in this ad

Then election day came. November 4, 2008. American voters elected the first-ever black president of the United States, Barack Obama. Locally, there were several other less-known propositions ranging from funding a high-speed rail line from Los Angeles to San Francisco (Prop 1A), authorizing parental notification for minors getting abortions (Prop 4), and helping veterans buy property (Prop 12). But then the storm came for many gay couples who had yet to be married and those already married, while the Mormons who actively campaigned for Prop 8 began cheering and partying.

California voters passed Proposition 8 by a 52%-47% margin. Notably, protests against Proposition 8 took place on November 15. P8 began attracting attention outside California; several film and TV actors participated in the satirical Proposition 8: The Musical. Perez Hilton infamously asked Miss California USA Carrie Prejean about her opinion about P8. Legal actions included a May 2009 decision by the state supreme court Strauss v. Horton that recognised P8 as a legitimate amendment to the state constitution. However, pre-P8 same-sex marriages were still valid.

In comes 2010, and oral arguments began for the federal appeal of P8, Perry v. Schwarzenegger. Plantiff Kristin Perry had been denied a marriage license in 2009. Neither Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) or Attorney General Jerry Brown (D; Brown also was Governor from 1975-1983) would defend P8 for the state. AG Brown believed that P8 violated the 14th Amendment, while Gov. Schwarzenegger merely stated that the lawsuit brought up several constitutional questions.

Plantiff arguments: (against P8)
  • Marriage has never explicitly, universally been defined as strictly between one man and one woman.
  • There is no evidence that denying same-sex marriage encourages heterosexual marriage and subsequent family planning.
  • Professors George Chauncey (history, Yale), Gregory Herek (psychology, UC Davis), and Gary Segura (political science, Stanford) testified that LGBT people are among the biggest targets of demonization and persecution.
  • Studies overwhelmingly show that children of gay parents turn out just as well off as children of heterosexual parents.
  • Married couples help the economy and usually are healthier.
Defendant arguments: (for P8)
  • Traditionally, marriage has been between a man and a woman; that family structure has allowed for generations procreation and child raising.
  • Apparently things got so tough for the defendants that "[d]efendant witness David Blankenhorn, under cross-examination, concurred that the well-being of children raised by same-sex couples would improve should they be allowed to marry."
  • According to Professor Kenneth Miller from Claremont McKenna College, LGBTs in California had significant political power, as every major newspaper and numerous state politicians and celebrities opposed P8.
In today's ruling, among Judge Walker's conclusions: (taken from Wikipedia's article about Perry v. Schwarzenegger):
  • Individuals do not generally choose their sexual orientation.
  • No credible evidence supports a finding that an individual may, through conscious decision, therapeutic intervention or any other method, change his or her sexual orientation.
  • Marrying a person of the opposite sex is an unrealistic option for gay and lesbian individuals.
  • Domestic partnerships lack the social meaning associated with marriage.
  • Proposition 8 has had a negative fiscal impact on California and local governments.
  • Gays and lesbians have been victims of a long history of discrimination.
  • Religious beliefs that gay and lesbian relationships are sinful or inferior to heterosexual relationships harm gays and lesbians.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported today
The judge ordered an injunction against enforcement of Prop. 8 but issued a temporary stay until he decides whether to suspend his ruling while it is being appealed. The stay means that same-sex couples are still prohibited from marrying.
Walker's ruling is certain to be appealed to the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco. The case could reach the U.S. Supreme Court in 2011 or 2012.
In response to the ruling, the anti-SSM crowd came out with the tired old line of "the people approved of it, but that evil liberal judge overrode the people's vote!" I'm sorry but basic human rights can not be decided by a majority vote! It's particularly silly to argue that the government is over-reaching its allocated powers with court cases like this. The way the real world works is that sometimes you need government to grant you your rights. Where would we be without the Bill of Rights? Or the Civil Rights Act, Roe v. Wade, and numerous other laws passed by Congress and cases decided by the US Supreme Court that affirmed our civil rights and liberties that the Constitution grants us? Lemme invoke the late Sen. Ted Kennedy's speech "Robert Bork's America":
Robert Bork's America is a land in which women would be forced into back-alley abortions, blacks would sit at segregated lunch counters, rogue police could break down citizens' doors in midnight raids, schoolchildren could not be taught about evolution, writers and artists could be censored at the whim of the Government, and the doors of the Federal courts would be shut on the fingers of millions of citizens for whom the judiciary is—and is often the only—protector of the individual rights that are the heart of our democracy.
Yep. Conservative jurists' obsession with "original intent" sometimes is self-defeating as some important liberties are taketh away in the name of 1776.

The Los Angeles Times published a Q&A of common questions regarding today's case and SSM overall in CA.

So what now if you're still annoyed and are unconvinced?

Well of course there are gonna be some fellow Americans who do not wish to co-habit a nation with those perverted AIDS-infested gay couples who do nothing in life but to lick each other in you know where! (of course i was being sarcastic about that description, of course there are gays in America who'd like to live just like you, me, and your heterosexual family.) Pending the possible appeals that the pro-P8 apologists will file in the coming months, there still remain states in the US that deny recognition of SSM. Currently 5 states--mostly in New England--recognise SSM: MA, CT, IA, VT, and NH. Several other states (including CA and WA) allow civil unions. (I'm only talking in state context; the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act bans the federal government from recognising SSM.) And then here are the states that do not grant same-sex couples any civil union or marriage rights (most of these states vote Republican in the Electoral College): AZ, UT, ID, MT, the big ol' central section from both Dakotas to Texas, both Virginias, both Carolinas, every former Confederate state, every Great Lakes state except WI and NY, NE, KS, and MO. I'd suggest to my pro-SSM rights liberal friends (maybe some conservatives and others too) to help the stubbornly anti-gay folk find a better sanctuary where they'll be free from the evil evil gay agenda. Raise some money to get 'em a one-way plane ticket and help your fellow good ol' American work out the moving plans and possibly citizenship procedures; there still exist places outside America that make it a crime to be gay. (That idea of moving out of the country in response to dumb liberal US government laws started when the conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh said he'd move to Costa Rica if the US passed health care reform, unaware that Costa Rica had universal healthcare! Limbaugh clarified his remarks later.)

Speaking of which, the majority of African nations make homosexual behaviour illegal. Including the English-speaking nations of Botswana, Kenya, Malawi, Uganda, and Zimbabwe. As these nations are all former British colonies, English is just one language there amongst several other native languages. And Uganda once proposed a bill that punished HIV positivity or homosexual acts with the death penalty.

¿Se habla espaƱol? Then every country in Central America doesn't recognize SSM yet! (but as I said Costa Rica has...oh the horrors socialised medicine!) Regarding Mexico, only Mexico City recognises SSM, and only the state of Coahuila (which borders Texas along the Rio Grande) allows same-sex civil unions. In South America, aim for Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, or that Hugo Chavez-led dictatorship Venezuela. Both Spanish-speaking Caribbean nations, the Communist state Cuba and democracy Dominican Republic, don't have SSM, although Cuba is proposing it. (I was about to mention the American territory of Puerto Rico, but I'm not sure if the US Supreme Court decision would extend to territories.)

But if you're down for some paradise and can't speak a word of Spanish, feel free to head on over to the Atlantic island nation of Bermuda just 1000 miles east of Florida (the English dialect of Bermuda has a foreign accent like in the Caribbean). Speaking of the Carribean, try the SSM-free lands of the Bahamas or Virgin Islands, or if you'd like a place where gays get sent to prison how about Antigua & Barbada, Barbados, Jamaica, or Trinidad & Tobago?

At this time, no Asian nation recognises any same-sex relationship legally. Israel does recognise foreign same-sex couples and "unregistered cohabitation" for domestic same-sex couples. Islamic nations (like Iran, Afghanistan, and Kuwait) put the book down so hard on those homos...I mean really, those nations use Sharia to legislate harsh punishments (such as flogging or death) for people suspected of being gay or convicted of gay acts.

Now on to Europe. Nowhere in Eastern Europe, y'know the ex-Soviet nations, will you find a legal same-sex union. In the South, to avoid seeing gay couples everywhere avoid Spain, Portugal, and Andorra. In the West (the origin of white people LOL) you're out of luck unless you can find a house in the Channel Islands off France.

Alright that'll be all my research for now. Think about it: do you find that any of the nations I mentioned have as much freedom as America (or other countries that have civil unions or SSM) has granted you? Think about it. But have fun if you want to. Thank you Judge Walker, and I shall follow any appeals of this decision as they come.

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