This Just In – Prop. 8!

Hello, friends! It has been such a long while, has it not? The post I originally wanted to have up for this day is honestly not quite done, and this is a little more important, anyhow:

Ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a pretty darn happy couple in the audience, here! If you can’t tell, the couple in the wedding album being held up is also in-the-flesh, defending the marriage they had before Prop. 8 overturned it in California.

By now, you’ve hopefully heard the news: the 9th Circuit Court system overturned Prop. 8 with a 2-1 majority. The overturning was due to the the nature of Prop. 8 as disgusting pointless unconstitutional. [Editor’s note: Anything in strike-through is both unsupported by anyone but Tara and also a really tired joke form on the internet. Also, there is no editor.]

While this is rosy – a victory for which we should all be thankful, for sure – we need to keep a few facts in mind regarding this case. For those of us who aren’t government-minded and just want to cut to the point, I’ve prepped a little bullet point section for the highlights.

  • This is the 9th Circuit, which holds power over the following regions: Alaska, Arizona, Central/Eastern/Northern/Southern California (that’s four), Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Eastern/Western Washington (there’s two!), and the territorial courts of Guam and Northern Mariana Islands. (Why they have this set-up, I don’t know. Ask an American History or PoliSci major.)
  • Despite having power in this hunk of the country, the 9th Circuit, known for having many of its decisions overturned by the Supreme Court, conservatively made the anti-Prop. 8 ruling specifically for California.
  • The ruling was based upon Supreme Court legislation against bills that were for the sole purpose of discrimination against gays, which they argued Prop. 8 was, on the basis that gays already had the right to registered domestic partnerships in 2005 in California. In this set-up, all Prop. 8 truly did was take “marriage” out of the equation because no one wants to let gays “get married.”
  • This was all pretty smart [if you ask me (and you shouldn’t, eheh)], as it seems specifically designed to be Supreme Court-proof. If they struck this ruling down, the Supreme Court would have to eat its own words (quoted at them) on a national (well, international) stage, and no one really wants to do that. According to analysts, the Supreme Court does not have four people – what it takes to have a ruling heard – “chomping at the bit” to move this issue into the national spotlight.
  • Gays in California are unlikely to get married quite yet, despite this good news. The ruling wouldn’t take effect until two weeks from now, assuming that Prop. 8 supporters don’t appeal to a higher panel. Additionally, the soonest the Supreme Court would declare taking the case would be in the fall. (It’s February right now, in case you’ve forgotten.)
  • Wary supporters seem generally in favor of this, as taking the gay civil rights fight into the Supreme Court before national opinion is solid enough to back any decisions made (even though it’s not supposed to work that way, damn it) will likely backfire, according to people paid to analyze these things.

I believe those are most of the highlights of this current struggle. The Supreme Court is, argued by some, the most conservative it’s been in decades. (You measure the Supreme Court in “decades” instead of terms because everyone on it is really, really old and on there for life [for some reason].)

So, keep your eyes posted in the next two weeks for retaliative strikes from Prop. 8 supporters so we can see where this thing goes! Honestly, I feel as though it would be amazing to see it dragged into the Supreme Court, then the ruling upheld and Prop. 8 shot down all 90s-kid-after-school-special style, but I doubt that’s how life works. As frustrating and undignified as it is, one has to work slowly and continue to set small precedents in law until they snowball into one big argument for one’s case that, even then, may or may not work in your favor when the final showdown takes place on some national venue [usually the Supreme Court].

Sadly, to all the statuses my friends posted: No, just because Prop. 8 was unconstitutional in California, it does not mean that a “gay marriage ban” is unconstitutional here – not within the context of the 9th Circuit’s ruling, which was specifically tailored to California.

I leave you with links to a few interesting articles around the topic – including two regarding the Supreme Court itself – and a thought: perhaps those of us who support gay marriage should change tactics. If registered domestic partnerships – though a mouthful to say in a proposal – become legitimate in all 50 states, and there’s next to no difference between one and a “marriage” in terms of rights, then perhaps that is the time we go campaign for gay marriage. It takes the long, safe way (to which most oppose, I understand), but it also sets precedent too difficult for all but the most conservative of courts to ignore. Even if this isn’t the route anyone decides to take, then at least it’s an available one, should the future ever need it.



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