As soon as the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its decision affirming the unconstitutionality of California’s proposition 8, which stripped same-sex marriage rights in that state, we knew what the response from the far right would be. And it’s just as entertaining and frightening as we expected.
In a remarkably unified reaction, everyone from Rick Santorum to National Organization for Marriage founder Maggie Gallagher (h/t Joe) and a Catholic religious group or two have spouted out roughly the same talking points, that yesterday’s decision somehow invalidated the votes of seven million people. But hey, Frothy Mix has a flair for the dramatic:
Now, I don’t know how the hell allowing gays to marry will “strip away” the rights of anyone who voted to keep us evil homosexuals from getting married, but it’s plainly obvious that his facts have some serious stretch marks.
Others lament the fact that “never before” has a federal court ruled that there’s a right to gay marriage in the constitution. While they’re riding the waaaambulance to their pity parties, I should point out that “never before” has gay marriage even been brought up to federal court by some of the best attorneys in the nation, and never before has the merits of same-sex marriage even been discussed in open court, let alone under oath.
In a courtroom, all of the political grandstanding in the world won’t protect the fact talking points will crumble when cross-examined under oath. Anti-marriage witnesses claimed that same-sex marriage would harm children, but when cross examined, the witness not only admitted that there were no studies to back up their statement, but that stabilizing a same-sex relationship by allowing them to marry would actually help children in such families.
Not only that, the court was very clear that allowing same-sex couples to marry would not harm or threaten any other marriage. Ever.
Let’s review a brief history of what actually happened in California regarding gay marriage.
- The first salvo in California was fired in 2000 when Prop 22 was passed as a statute to ban gay marriages in that state. It passed with more than 61% of the vote.
- Four years later, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsome announced that he would allow same-sex couples to wed in his jurisdiction. People lined up in droves to tie the knot. The California Supreme Court voided those marriages, saying that he didn’t have the authority to marry same-sex couples.
- In 2005 and 2007, the California legislature passed legislation to allow same-sex marriage. It was vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger both times. The Governator’s reasoning was that he felt it should be decided by the courts.
- The California Supreme Court did exactly that in May 2008. It was a close 4-3 ruling. which became effective in June of that year. Gay marriage was officially legal.
- Not to be outdone, right-wing leaders pushed to get a new proposition on the California ballot in 2008, this time known as Proposition 8, which would amend the state’s constitution to ban gay marriage. The resulting vote was a 4% margin of victory for the anti-gay marriage crowd, and enshrined discrimination in the California constitution.
- Two same-sex couples sued in federal court after being denied marriage licenses. Superstar attorneys Theodore Olson and David Boies took on the case. The trial included nearly two weeks of testimony. Federal Judge Vaughn R. Walker later issued a ruling that denying same-sex couples the right to marry was unconstitutional.
- When Walker announced shortly after he retired that he is gay, the anti-gay marriage crowd attempted to have his ruling vacated. That motion was denied by Judge James Ware, stating that it would be the same as asking a black judge to recuse himself on a civil rights case or a female judge to recuse herself on women’s rights.
- Yesterday, the 9th circuit court of appeals affirmed both Walker’s original decision and Ware’s ruling on the motion to vacate.
It’s a simple thing, really. It’s not that the 9th circuit “invalidated’ or “stripped rights from” 7 million voters. They simply said that the other 6.4 million voters were right all along.