Wednesday, May 27, 2009

THE COURT'S AFFIRMATION OF PROP. 8: A CAUSE FOR ANGER AND A CALL FOR MEANINGFUL GRASSROOTS ACTION

In the aftermath of the court's decision, conservative groups gathered 1.1 million signatures to place the traditional-marriage constitutional amendment on the ballot.

The measure passed by a margin of 52 percent to 48 percent, shocking many analysts who had predicted the initiative would fail in a year that favored Democratic and liberal candidates, led by Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Analysts later found that the surge in minority voters, inspired by Mr. Obama's presence on the ticket, helped push Proposition 8 over the top. Exit polls showed that most black and Hispanic voters who checked the box for Mr. Obama also backed Proposition 8.

The vote touched off an outcry among gay-rights groups and activists, who launched days of protests across the state. Protesters boycotted businesses whose owners supported Proposition 8, and contributors to the Proposition 8 campaign reported being threatened and abused by angry gay-marriage supporters.


[For the full article, see here.]

Clearly, save for Justice Moreno, the California State Supreme Court, narrowly construing their role in this issue, voted to affirm Prop. 8, but did decide to allow the 18,000 same-sex marriages to stand after its May 2008 decision stating that denial of same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

Justice Moreno's dissenting opinion reads, in part:

“I conclude that requiring discrimination against a minority group on the basis of a suspect classification strikes at the core of the promise of equality that underlies our California…The rule the majority crafts today not only allows same-sex couples to be stripped of the right to marry that this court recognized in the Marriage Cases, it places at risk the state constitutional rights of all disfavored minorities. It weakens the status of our state Constitution as a bulwark of fundamental rights for minorities protected from the will of the majority. I therefore dissent.”

“Proposition 8 represents an unprecedented instance of a majority of voters altering the meaning of the equal protection clause by modifying the California Constitution to require deprivation of a fundamental right on the basis of a suspect classification. The majority’s holding is not just a defeat for same-sex couples, but for any minority group that seeks the protection of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution...”
“This could not have been the intent of those who devised and enacted the initiative process. In my view, the aim of Proposition 8 and all similar initiative measures that seek to alter the California Constitution to deny a fundamental right to a group that has historically been subject to discrimination on the basis of a suspect classification, violates the essence of the equal protection clause of the California Constitution and fundamentally alters its scope and meaning. Such a change cannot be accomplished through the initiative process by a simple amendment to our Constitution enacted by a bare majority of the voters; it must be accomplished, if at all, by a constitutional revision to modify the equal protection clause to protect some, rather than all, similarly situated persons. I would therefore hold that Proposition 8 is not a lawful amendment of the California Constitution.”


[Thanks to Daily Kos.]

He realizes that "separate is not equal," and he was the only person on that Court to see that this rule of law must trump any interpretation of the California Constitution that would for a tyranny of the majority when it comes to the denial of civil rights to any minority group. So, given the Court's decision, we have suffered a temporary set-back.

This state of affairs must be a wake-up call to those who have hitherto been politically indolent; those who have not been aggressive enough in fighting for equal rights for all citizens; those who didn't have a critical mass of anger at being treated as second-class citizens; those professing Christians who allowed themselves to be influenced by hateful, homophobic rhetoric from fallible and often reactionary clergy preaching messages diametrically opposed to the Gospel; those in minority groups in California who now see that their own civil rights are up for grabs if more than 50% of the electorate decide to remove one or more of those civil rights.

A Pandora's Box has now been opened, and it is hoped that the reality of the recent California State Supreme Court's decision hits home and shows how every single minority group's civil rights in California are now at the mercy of a tyranny of the majority; should economic, social, political, and religious climates converge into fomenting reactionary rhetoric, many, if not most, of the electorate could well abridge or remove what civil rights now exist from one or more minority groups that have hitherto taken for granted their hard-won civil rights that can now be removed from the ballot boxes in California.

If any reality should spur all decent people to action, whether they be in minority groups or not, and commit themselves to the goal of achieving full and equal civil rights for LGBT people, this gut-wrenching reality should and must be that catalyst!
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2 comments:

Leonardo Ricardo said...

Thank you Dr. Maneker, that helped me sort things out.

Best to you,
Leonardo Ricardo

Jerry Maneker said...

Thanks so much, Leonardo. Best wishes, Jerry.