The Marriage Discrimination Act
Vote no on Amendment 2 in Florida and Amendment 8 in California.
Thanks for stopping by to check out another entry in my blog. I am still on ordered house rest after a new infection and very high fever almost landed me back into the hospital. I would like to thank those of you who have emailed me ecards and well wishes.
Now yesterday, I spoke about voting no on Amendment 2 in Florida. Since I used to live in both San Francisco and West Hollywood, California during my adulthood; I am asking you to vote NO on Amendment 8 in California.
Proposition 8 is an initiative measure on the 2008 California General Election ballot titled Eliminates Right of Same-Sex Couples to Marry. If passed, the proposition would "change the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California." A new section would be added stating "only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California."
The measure was originally submitted for the ballot by petitioners with the title "California Marriage Protection Act." The title and summary were revised by Attorney General Jerry Brown to more "accurately reflect the measure." The Superior Court of California ruled in favor of these changes, stating, "The title and summary is not false or misleading because it states that Proposition 8 would 'eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry' in California. The California Supreme Court unequivocally held that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry under the California Constitution."
From 1850 to 1977, California's marriage statutes used gender-neutral language, without reference to "man" or "woman," in providing that marriage is a personal relation arising out of a civil contract to which the consent of the parties capable of making the contract is necessary. While California did not explicitly define marriage as being between a man and a woman, court decisions and some statutes dating from both statehood and the 1872 codification of the civil law, assumed as much.
In 1948, the California Supreme Court became the first state court in the country to strike down a law prohibiting interracial marriage. It was the only state supreme court to do so before the United States Supreme Court invalidated all those laws in 1967. The California Supreme Court held that "marriage is ... something more than a civil contract subject to regulation by the state; it is a fundamental right of free men ... Legislation infringing such rights must be based upon more than prejudice and must be free from oppressive discrimination to comply with the constitutional requirements of due process and equal protection of the laws" (Perez v. Sharp (1948) 32 Cal.2d 711, 714-715). The California Supreme Court explained that "the right to marry is the right to join in marriage with the person of one's choice"
In 1977, the legislature amended Civil Code section 4100 (predecessor to what is now codified at Family Code section 300) to read that marriage is "a personal relation arising out of a civil contract between a man and a woman". As the legislature explained when it passed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act:
The Legislature's express purpose for this amendment was to prohibit same-sex couples from marrying. The gender-specific description of marriage that the Legislature adopted in 1977 specifically discriminated in favor of heterosexual couples and discriminated against, and continues to discriminate against, same-sex couples.
In 1999, Assembly Bill 26 passed and marked the first time a state legislature created a domestic partnership statute without the intervention of the courts.
In 2000, voters passed with 61% of the vote, ballot initiative Proposition 22, which changed the California Family Code to formally define marriage in California as being between a man and a woman.
In 2004, a number of developments arose in the wake of Mayor Gavin Newsom's decision to perform same sex marriages in San Francisco. The 3,995 marriages were annulled by the California Supreme Court, but San Francisco began a legal challenge that was consolidated with other cases as In re Marriage Cases.
In 2005, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act. The Act marked the first time that a state legislature had approved a bill authorizing same-sex marriage without a court order. Schwarzenegger press secretary Margita Thompson said, “the governor believes the matter should be determined not by legislative action – which would be unconstitutional – but by court decision or another vote of the people of our state.”
In 2007, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger again vetoed the Religious Freedom and Civil Marriage Protection Act.
From 2005 to 2008, anticipating that either the courts or the legislature might overturn Proposition 22, opponents of same-sex marriages introduced several attempts to place a constitutional amendment before voters that would prohibit same-sex marriages—and in some cases, domestic partnerships as well. Prior to 2008, none had made it to the ballot.
On May 15, 2008 the California Supreme Court, by a vote of 4–3, ruled that the statute enacted by Proposition 22 and other statutes that limit marriage to a relationship between a man and a woman violated the equal protection clause of the California Constitution. It also held that individuals of the same sex have the right to marry under the California Constitution. The court subsequently refused to issue a stay of its order.
As of June 17, 2008, marriage between individuals of the same sex is currently valid or recognized in the state of California.
In late 2007 and 2008, at least four different groups sponsored new ballot initiatives for a constitutional amendment prohibiting same-sex marriages. The one that did obtain enough signatures, is the "California Marriage Protection Act" (officially titled the "Limit on Marriage" Constitutional Amendment by the California Attorney General), sponsored by ProtectMarriage.com. During the initiative process, what is now Proposition 8 had been assigned the number 07-0068. Among the individual sponsors is Gail Knight, the widow of Pete Knight, who sponsored Proposition 22. A rival proposal, the "Right to Protect Marriage Initiative", sponsored by the organization voteyesmarriage.com, was unable to obtain enough signatures, which the organization claimed was due to inability to raise funds.
If passed, the amendment would override the ruling in In re Marriage Cases that struck down both the 1977 law and Proposition 22 for being unconstitutional. The Constitution, as amended, would add a new section (Section 7.5) to Article I, placing it between the state Equal Protection clause and nondiscrimination in business and the professions. This new section would read:
Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.
According to Joan Hollinger, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, Boalt Hall School of Law, "Constitutional scholars agree that the amendment cannot be effective retroactively." The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law conservatively estimates that more than 11,000 same-sex couples have married in California between June 17 and September 17, 2008.
Ballot summary language
In November 2007, California Attorney General Jerry Brown prepared a title and summary for the signature-gathering petition that reads:
LIMIT ON MARRIAGE. CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Amends the California Constitution to provide that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The measure would have no fiscal effect on state or local governments. This is because there would be no change to the manner in which marriages are currently recognized by the state.
After the measure qualified for the general election the Attorney General revised the descriptions of Prop. 8 for the upcoming Voter Information Guide. On July 22, the California Secretary of State made the proposed ballot information available for public review. The new ballot label (condensed version of the title and summary) reads:
ELIMINATES RIGHT OF SAME-SEX COUPLES TO MARRY. INITIATIVE CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT. Changes the California Constitution to eliminate the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. Provides that only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California. Fiscal Impact: Over next few years, potential revenue loss, mainly sales taxes, totaling in the several tens of millions of dollars, to state and local governments. In the long run, likely little fiscal impact on state and local governments.
Through a spokesperson, the Attorney General explained that "the change was necessary because of the dramatic turn of events that have taken place since the petitions were circulated: namely that the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage and thousands of gay couples have since wed." The text of the actual proposed amendment has not changed.
Proposition 8 supporters immediately mounted a legal challenge to the changes, contending that Attorney General Brown had inserted "inflammatory" language that would "unduly prejudice voters against" Proposition 8. Protect Marriage claimed that research shows the attorney general has never used an active verb like “eliminates” in the title of a ballot measure in the fifty years in which ballot measures have been used. Opponents to the measure declared their support for the language, while representatives of the Attorney General vouched for the neutrality and accuracy of the language. On August 8, 2008, a judge turned down this legal challenge, affirming the new title and summary. Proponents of Prop. 8 immediately appealed the decision. The Court of Appeal denied their petition the same day, and they did not seek review by the Supreme Court of California. The phrase "Eliminates Right of Same–Sex Couples to Marry" is the official title only in the sense that it is the title prepared by the Attorney General for use in the Official Voter Information Guide; it is not the title of Proposition 8 itself. Section 1 of Proposition 8 itself provides the official title of the proposed constitutional amendment. That section, entitled "Title," reads as follows: "This measure shall be known and may be cited as the 'California Marriage Protection Act.'"
* On June 4, 2008, the California Supreme Court denied a petition to stay its order pending the November vote on Proposition 8.
* On July 16, 2008, the California Supreme Court dismissed a motion for pre-election review of Proposition 8 which would determine whether it was a constitutional amendment or constitutional revision. Were the court to have found Proposition 8 to be a constitutional revision, it would have been removed from the ballot. The question of whether Proposition 8 is a constitutional amendment or constitutional revision remains unresolved.
* On August 8, 2008, the Superior Court turned down a legal challenge aimed at reversing the renaming and rephrasing of the official Proposition 8 language.
Allegations of Violence
On October 13, Jose Nunez of Modesto, CA alleged that an opponent of Proposition 8 attacked and seriously injured him while he was distributing lawn signs in support of Proposition 8, following a confrontation over the signs. There were no witnesses to the incident, and no arrests have been reported. No on Prop. 8 campaign director Patrick Guerriero issued the following statement: "The No on Prop 8 campaign condemns violence of any sort. We are deeply concerned to hear the news of a lawn-sign incident that apparently involved the injury of one of the volunteers for the Yes on 8 campaign. This incident—or anything like it—should not be tolerated in any campaign.
Proponents and opponents
By Election Day, the measure's opponents and supporters expect to spend about $40 million. Volunteers on both sides will have spent thousands of hours getting their messages across to the state's 16.2 million registered voters. More than 9,500 people from all 50 states and the District of Columbia have contributed nearly $22 million to support or oppose the measure, while institutions have added another $7.8 million.
The largest mass lawn-sign planting in the history of California politics was planned for September 22nd, proponents were to have put up one million signs in yards around the state at 7:00am, but the signs, some of them outsourced overseas, did not all arrive in time for the September event. Ali Bay, spokeswoman for Equality California, which is coordinating the No on 8 campaign, said at the time, that her side had distributed about 60,000 lawn signs, all purchased "from a union shop in Kansas."
The ProtectMarriage.com organization sponsored the initiative that placed Proposition 8 on the ballot and continues to support the referendum. Other notable supporters include Republican State Senator Tom McClintock and 20 other Republican State Senators and Assemblymembers.
Republican presidential nominee and U.S. Senator John McCain released the following statement of support for the proposed constitutional amendment:
I support the efforts of the people of California to recognize marriage as a unique institution between a man and a woman [...]. I do not believe judges should be making these decisions."
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has released a video in which he emphasizes his support to "defend and protect marriage" and to "overrule the judges" by "vot[ing] yes on Proposition 8."
Religious organizations that support Proposition 8 include the Roman Catholic Church, Knights of Columbus, Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, a group of Evangelical Christians led by Pastor Jim Garlow (head of Skyline Church in San Diego) and Pastor Miles McPherson (former San Diego Charger and head of the Rock Church in San Diego, the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights (who also has been reported to be freely distributing fliers in support of the proposition), American Family Association, Focus on the Family and the National Organization for Marriage.
The California Catholic Conference has released a statement in support of the proposition. The Catholic Bishops of California have stated that "by drawing on the revelation of Scripture, the wisdom of Tradition, the experience and insights of holy men and women as well as on what can be known by reason alone," they have decided "that marriage is the ideal relationship between a man and a woman for the purpose of procreation and the continuation of the human race."
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or Mormon Church, has publicly supported the proposition and encouraged their membership to support it, by asking its members to donate money and volunteer time.
The Grossmont Union High School District in San Diego County, California has publicly voted on Proposition 8. The Governing Board voted 4-0 to endorse the addition to the California State Constitution.
Professional skateboarders Brian Sumner and Christian Hosoi support the proposition and recorded video segments "encouraging [people] to vote yes on proposition 8."
Professional football players Jacques Cisera and Mark Miller support the proposition and "marriage between a man and a woman."
The Asian Heritage Coalition held a rally in support of Proposition 8 in downtown San Diego on October 19th, 2008. The people at the rally wore red shirts to show support for traditional marriage because red is considered good luck for marriages in China where brides often wear red. The coalition argued that "most Asians don't support same-sex marriage." Grace Lee, chairwoman of the coalition, said her group wanted to show people that Asians are very much interested in the passage of Proposition 8 based on their teaching and history of its cultures.
Equality for All is the lead organization opposed to Proposition 8. They also run the NoOnProp8.com campaign.
Republican California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that although he has opposed and has twice vetoed legislative bills that would recognize same sex marriage in California, he is opposed to the initiative and other attempts to amend the state's constitution. Schwarzenegger released the following statement on May 15, 2008 regarding the ruling:
I respect the Court's decision and as Governor, I will uphold its ruling. Also, as I have said in the past, I will not support an amendment to the constitution that would overturn this state Supreme Court ruling.
Democratic presidential nominee and U.S. Senator Barack Obama said he supports extending "fully equal rights and benefits to same-sex couples under both state and federal law....And that is why I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution, and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of other states". Barak Obama has stated he is "for civil unions and not for gay marriage" when civil unions confer the same rights and benefits as marriage. In addition, Barak Obama has stated, "I personally believe that marriage is between a man and a woman." Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joseph Biden called Proposition 8 "regressive" and "unfair" and said if he lived in California, he would vote against Proposition 8.
The U.S. House Speaker, California Representative (8th District), Nancy Pelosi and both of California's U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, have voiced their opposition to Proposition 8, as have the mayors of San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego: Gavin Newsom, Antonio Villaraigosa, and Jerry Sanders respectively.
All ten of the state's largest newspapers have editorialized against Proposition 8: the Los Angeles Times, the San Francisco Chronicle, the San Diego Union-Tribune, The Orange County Register, The Sacramento Bee, the San Jose Mercury News, the Contra Costa Times, The Press-Enterprise (Riverside), The Fresno Bee, and the Daily News (Los Angeles). Other papers to have editorialized in opposition include The New York Times and La Opinión (Los Angeles).
The nonpartisan League of Women Voters of California opposes Proposition 8 because "no person or group should suffer legal, economic or administrative discrimination."
Google has announced their official corporate opposition to Proposition 8, viewing the question "fundamentally as an issue of equality."
All six Episcopal diocesan bishops in California jointly issued a statement opposing Proposition 8 on September 10, 2008.
Southern California's largest collection of rabbis voted overwhelmingly to oppose Proposition 8. Leaders of the Board of Rabbis of Southern California -- with representatives from the Reconstructionist, Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements -- said they wanted to protect the civil rights of gay and lesbian couples. The resolution did not address the sanctity of gay marriage. Instead, it urged a no vote on Proposition 8 so that same-sex couples can continue to marry under civil law.
Jewish groups in the San Francisco Bay Area came together to present an event against Proposition 8. The September 17, 2008 event was presented by the Jewish Community Relations Council and the LGBT Alliance of the Jewish Community Federations of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin, and Sonoma Counties; the Jewish Community Federation of the Greater East Bay; and the Progressive Jewish Alliance. Other Jewish groups who sponsored the event and who oppose Proposition 8 include Kol Tzedek,
Congregation Emanu-El, Keshet, Congregation Sha'ar Zahav, Kulanu, Nehirim, Congregation Shomrei Torah, Congregation Sherith Israel, Jewish Mosaic, National Council of Jewish Women, and Jews for Marriage Equality. The Anti-Defamation League also opposes Proposition 8.
David Knight, the openly gay son of the late state Senator William "Pete" Knight, who authored Proposition 22, and stepson of Gail Knight, a proponent of Proposition 8, said that he is "absolutely" opposed to Proposition 8.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Board of Education voted unanimously to oppose Proposition 8.
The California Teachers Association donated 1 million dollars to fight proposition 8. The donation was the largest contribution to the campaign from a labor union during the election -more than double the next highest donation.
Among those who have donated money to fight Proposition 8 are Steven Spielberg, Brad Pitt, T.R. Knight, Dana Delaney, Eric McCormack, Pete Wentz, and David Geffen.
A simple majority of votes cast is required to enact a constitutional amendment.
Date of opinion poll Conducted by Sample size
In favor Against Undecided
10-17-2008 SurveyUSA 615 48% 45% 7%
10-6-2008 SurveyUSA 670 47% 42% 10%
9-25-2008 SurveyUSA 661 44% 49% 8%
9-24-2008 Public Policy Institute of California 1,157 41% 55% 4%
9-16-2008 Field Poll 830 38% 55% 7%
8-27-2008 Public Policy Institute of California 1,047 40% 54% 6%
7-17-2008 Field Poll 672 42% 51% 7%
5-28-2008 Field Poll 1,052 42% 51% 7%
5-23-2008 LA Times/KTLA 834 54% 35% 11%
Now I realize this is a lot of information all in one blog entry. But that is how important I think this issue is. After all does not our Constitution guarantee liberty and justice FOR ALL!
What are your thoughts on the issue? Drop me a line and let me now. I hope you had a great day.
Wishing you health, hope and happiness.
big bear hug,