Raging Over California's Gay Marriage Proposition
One of the few victories for conservatives in the recently held national election occurred in one of the most liberal states of America.
California put together Proposition 8, a state referendum that would amend the state Constitution to define marriage as a union between a man and woman, overturning a recent California Supreme Court decision that recognized same-sex marriage in California as a right. Proposition 8 gave the people of California a democratic way to settle the question of gay marriage instead of allowing the courts to have the final say. The proposition passed by a margin of 52 to 48 percent.
It is possible that the success of the proposition came about because opponents of gay marriage were able to focus the debate beyond the issue of marriage. The "Yes on 8" campaign was effective in creating ads that expanded the debate to include the potential indoctrination of children in public schools to accept homosexual marriage as normal. In the same week that the "No on 8" campaign attacked the ads as lies, a first grade class took a school-sponsored field trip to their teacher's gay wedding.
Regardless of why the proposition was a success, the decision by voters sparked outrage from gay-marriage supporters, causing some to react in rage and violence. The American Civil Liberties Union and other legal groups are threatening a lawsuit challenging the proposition.
The ACLU filed a petition with the California Supreme Court, urging that the justices invalidate Proposition 8 because the initiative process was "improperly used in an attempt to undo the constitution's core commitment to equality for everyone," because it discriminated against gays and lesbians. They also claim that the initiative improperly prevents the courts from exercising "their essential constitutional role of protecting the equal protection rights of minorities."
The California Constitution itself sets out two ways to alter the document that sets the most basic rules about how state government works. Through the initiative process, voters can make relatively small changes to the constitution. But any measure that would change the underlying principles of the constitution must first be approved by the legislature before being submitted to the voters. That didn't happen with Proposition 8, and that's why it's invalid.