Left Said: Prior Landmark Case Justifies Lifting Gay Marriage Ban
Marriage is one of the oldest institutions known to mankind. Its roots are religious as well as legal, and efforts to redefine the union to encompass gay and lesbian couples have been predictably noxious and impassioned. But few civil rights victories come easily.
Last Thursday, the California Supreme Court bravely struck down a ban of same-sex marriage. While gay marriage still remains controversial, the Court’s decision shouldn’t be – it’s well within mainstream interpretation of the law. The justices noted it was not their task to decide whether same-sex marriage is good policy, but whether or not it’s ensured by our State Constitution. The court ruled that it is.
Using the landmark 1948 Perez v. Sharp case as precedent – in which a ban on interracial marriage was found unconstitutional – the Supreme Court ruled that a recognition of marriage is afforded to same-sex couples under the equal protection clause of the California State Constitution, and anything less would be denying homosexual couples the “same respect and dignity” given to their heterosexual counterparts.
Although conservatives have begun screaming about “liberal judges” and “judicial activism,” it should be noted two of three of the justices to strike down the ban were appointed by Republican governors, and the Court has a longstanding reputation for being both reasonable and non-partisan.
Nevertheless, the final call may not fall with the courts. An anti-gay coalition is attempting to place a constitutional amendment onto the ballot this November that would ban same-sex marriage in California. While we will undoubtedly hear plenty about “traditions” and “values,” let’s be clear what such an amendment is: bigotry, masked by a perverse preservation of history. Beliefs that some citizens should not be afforded the rights of their peers are remnants of an unfortunate past, and our Supreme Court unequivocally decided to embrace the future. Let’s hope a majority of Californians vote to do the same.
Right Said: New Court Decision Betrays Popular American Opinion
The people of California made it clear what their views on gay marriage were when 60 percent of voters decided this was not an issue they could support in 2000. In terms of politics, this is considered a landslide. Very rarely do propositions see such wide support. In addition, California legislators created a ban on same-sex marriage in the ’70s. While I’m not personally opposed to same-sex marriage, I respect the decision of the American people, as we all should. For the courts of California to rule against a law that has gained such wide support is outrageous. Their decision effectively undermines the voice of the majority of people in the state, which should have ultimate authority when choosing the direction of our nation.
We live in a democracy, where the voice of the people is supposed to carry the most weight. While our government is set up to check other sectors within itself, it should never check the public, in my opinion. Our nation already has a serious problem motivating people to go to the polls on Election Day, and decisions like this simply exacerbate the issue. When the court system overturns the opinions of the American people, we create a disincentive for people to show up to vote. What’s more, we are establishing a precedent of acceptance for our government to have stronger authority over the people by allowing this decision to go unchallenged.
It’s a shame a nation claiming to be a beacon for democracy doesn’t listen to its own people anymore. Californians need to stand up for their beliefs and the decisions they have made. The people of California already decided once, but putting a new proposition before voters in November is the best way to settle the issue once and for all. It’s of utmost importance that Californians vote on Election Day, regardless of their views on the issue. As citizens, we need to take a stand on the issue and show our government that we control them and not vice versa.