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A Bad Time to Be Gay in California or Asian in Florida

Obama is going to be President.  That’s a big historical milestone for our country, and I’m glad I could witness it.  On a more tactical level, I can’t say that I’m excited about it.  Passing union-supported card-check legislation?  Writing blank checks to failing car companies? I’m not jumping for joy.  I will admit it beats the likely alternative – McCain would be worse.  “Best alternative” and “good choice” are very different in this case, I fear.

Obama wasn’t the big story for me.  The biggest question this November was the decision to ban gay marriage in California.  52% of the state voted to prohibit gay marriage.  They should be ashamed of themselves.  For whatever reason, devoted gay couples can’t make health care decisions for each other, can’t make property decisions, and can’t fill out wills like straight couples can.  It’s just nuts.

I’d like to point out two other state questions:

  1. Florida voted to retain a law that forbids Asian immigrants from owning land.  The law is on the books and unenforceable.  Florida could have repealed it, but 52% of the state thought it was a good idea.
  2. California voted to mandate bigger cages for chickens.  63% of the state voted for this one.  I’d love to meet the people who voted for hens but against gays.
I’m pissed but not freaked about these votes.  I think the political tide is still moving.  Gays will get to marry, in California and elsewhere.  Asians will be allowed to own land.  And the hens?  I can’t say that I care.


Comment from Quantum Mechanic
Time: November 9, 2008, 11:27 pm

McCain wouldn’t be worse because he’d get nothing done because of the Dem congress. Don’t get me started on so-called “libertarians” (or “Libertarians”) who voted for Obama, especially knowing he’d have big Dem congressional majorities behind him.

The next 4 (or, god forbid 8) years are going to be terrible, terrible years for the forces of freedom and anti-statism.

Comment from Alex
Time: November 10, 2008, 12:05 am

It just ain’t so, Dan. California already offered all the state marriage benefits to gay couples, but with gay partnerships defined as civil unions. Those benefits are not going away. Gay partners can make health care decisions for each other, they can make property decisions, and they can fill out wills just like straight partners. They can’t have their union recognized federally, but Prop 8 had nothing to do with that. The whole stink was about whether or not it could be called marriage.

I kind of sympathize with the people who voted against it, because the California Supreme Court overstepped itself, bigtime, going against the will of the voters in 2000 (when a ballot item modified the state marriage code to define marriage as between a man and a woman). I don’t know which way I would have voted, because I don’t really care about the word marriage (just the rights), and I do care about judges contemptuously dismissing democratic principles like voting. I might have said yes to slapping the judges down and also voted for the chickens myself.

Comment from dunster
Time: November 10, 2008, 12:24 am

@quantum We could probably argue for a while (preferably over a beer) about whether McCain or Obama was less statist, but it’s a purely intellectual argument at this point. We’d agree that neither one is a good choice.

@alex I do not think your facts are right. Civil unions may be on the books, but they are simply not the same in the eye of California courts. Civil union disputes about health care end up in courts, and sometimes they win, and sometimes they lose. Marriage disputes don’t go to court, and they don’t lose.

What you’re talking about is a separate-but-equal argument. “I want them to have the same rights, but I want them to call it something else.” It doesn’t work that way. The ones who want to deny the rights use the different name as an excuse to deny the right.

I also suggest that California voters have other, better ways to complain about their judges. If you’re angry with 4 judges appointed by three different governors, is it really the right thing to do to slap down thousands of loving couples who want nothing more than to live together, bound by love and by law?

Comment from Quantum Mechanic
Time: November 10, 2008, 12:57 am

The issue isn’t which of Obama or McCain is less statist. The issue is which of McCain+AlmostOverwhelminglyDemCongress or Obama+AlmostOverwhelminglyDemCongress is more statist. Surely no one could claim the latter isn’t going to be worse.

Comment from Alex
Time: November 10, 2008, 2:05 pm

If I could write California’s laws, the state would be out of the marriage business altogether. Everyone who applies would get a civil union license, whether gay or straight. I think the idea that a court (or even a ballot measure) can instantly redefine marriage is silly. “Marriage” should be a religious and personal issue, not a civil one.

That said, given that the state is going to continue to grant marriage licenses to straight couples, I would vote to allow them to grant marriage licenses to gay couples as well, in a vacuum.

But this proposition didn’t happen in a vacuum. It happened after four people (regardless of who appointed them) decided to take the law into their own hands. They chose to dictate legislation against the will of the people, and if the people didn’t like it, they could go screw. That’s exactly the same thing that happens when civil union disputes end up in court, and the judge decides to ignore the state’s civil union laws when making his ruling. It’s not OK for a judge to write his own laws when a gay partner is making a health care decision, and it’s not OK when four judges write their own laws about gay marriage.

In 4-8 years, gay marriage will pass in California, and it will pass the right way, with the voters choosing to allow it. I think it’s probably worth 4 years of gay couples having to get civil unions that grant them the same rights as marriage to remind the judges of their constitutional powers. I wish the gay couples didn’t have to suffer any of the consequences – they didn’t do anything to deserve it – but judges cannot do whatever they want without consequences. Hopefully, next time they consider acting like they are above the constitution, they will remember that the voters do not treat such actions lightly.

Comment from Mike
Time: November 10, 2008, 3:14 pm

Dan, I think your comments are right on. It’s amazing to me that in environment where we can more so far forward, we can also go so far backwards at the same time. Do Californians need a history lesson? Do they not realize that interracial marriage was not officially legalized by the Supreme Court until 1967? In addition, to meeting all the hen-lovers who voted no on 8, I would like to meet all interracial married couples in California (I think in a technical sense this is become a gigantic number) who voted no on 8 so I can give then a history lesson.

Comment from Dan Dunn
Time: November 10, 2008, 10:58 pm

Alex, does that mean that you think the US Supreme court overstepped in Loving v. Virginia? Should those judges have “faced consequences?”


Comment from Dr. Wayne Pitcher
Time: November 11, 2008, 12:50 am

Mike, I think you meant “yes on 8”–the no votes were the ones who wanted to keep same-sex marriage.

Exit polls showed some interesting breakdowns among prop. 8 voters. The one I find most telling was that those with less than a college education voted for prop. 8 (that is, against same-sex marriage), while those with a college degree or postgraduate work voted against it (that is, for same-sex marriage). Among those with more than a college degree about 60% voted against prop. 8 (the largest % against by educational demographic in the exit poll). Note the “Dr. ” in front of my name. 🙂

Prop. 8 was defeated in all of the Bay Area counties except Solano county, where it narrowly passed. It’s not my fault that the rest of the state is a bunch of ignorant peasants.

Yes, I fully realized that I just insulted the intelligence of everyone who voted for prop. 8. So shoot me. 😛

Comment from Alex
Time: November 11, 2008, 1:36 am

Loving v Virginia has about as much to do with prop 8 as considering whether or not it should be legal for a man to marry a dog. Virginia’s anti-miscegenation law was a blatant violation of the 14th amendment. Prop 8 was about the word “marriage,” not about any legal rights. The California Supreme Court didn’t even bother with making a legal argument in their opinion; they just said that calling opposite-sex unions “marriage” and same-sex unions “domestic partnerships” could “potentially confer” unequal meaning.

That’s not to say prop 8 was the greatest thing since sliced bread, or that I would have voted for it. But the people who voted for it shouldn’t feel ashamed, and they’re not all just a bunch of bigots — propositions to revoke domestic partnership laws haven’t even been able to muster enough support to get on the ballot in California. And it’s disingenuous to claim that because of prop 8, “devoted gay couples can’t make health care decisions for each other, can’t make property decisions, and can’t fill out wills like straight couples can.” Prop 8 had nothing to do with any of that.

It affords the couple virtually all of the same substantive legal benefits and privileges, and imposes upon the couple all of the same legal obligations and duties, that California law affords to and imposes upon a married couple.

Comment from Dr. Wayne Pitcher
Time: November 11, 2008, 1:07 pm

Although Wikipedia has been shown (don’t ask me for the citation) to be as accurate as a text encyclopedia, I think a reference to the original court opinion is in order. See for the opinion.

There are differences between marriage and domestic partnerships–nine in total. They appear to be relatively minor, but to say there are no differences is incorrect.

Oh yeah, the comparison to a human-dog marriage is specious, since marriages are consensual relationships.

Comment from Alex
Time: November 11, 2008, 4:53 pm

*shrug* the line I pasted from wikipedia is actually a quote from the majority opinion in the case.

I read quite a bit of the court opinion before, and the majority opinion is pretty darned tortured — based on a lot of hypotheticals and a lot of “could potentially.” I found Justice Corrigan’s concurring/dissenting opinion summed up my thoughts pretty well, and Justice Baxter’s contention that the majority opinion took the legislature’s actions and converted those laws into constitutional protections to override the will of the voters a very good explanation of how the majority opinion is an excuse for the judges to make new laws as they see fit.

I don’t really see how things like domestic partnerships being filed with the secretary of state and marriages being filed with the superior court is an unconstitutional violation of rights. And if Dan had said that “devoted gay couples must file their papers with the Secretary of State instead of the Superior Court, and no-longer-devoted gay couples may file their divorce papers without having lived in California for at least 6 months, whereas no-longer-devoted straight couples must establish residency. California voters should be ashamed of themselves,” I would have found it kind of silly.

As far as the human-dog thing, speciousness was the point. Comparison to human-dog marriage is specious because marriages are consensual relationships, and comparison to the ruling in a white supremacist felony law case is also specious.