In 2000, voters passed Proposition 22, enacting a law stipulating that marriage is a heterosexual relationship. Last May, California's Supreme Court struck down the law on the ground that there is no "compelling state interest" in not recognizing same-sex marriages under the constitutional clause guaranteeing "equal protection" of the laws. Opponents of same-sex marriage quickly gathered sufficient signatures to place on the November ballot the amendment to the constitution.
The breadth and depth of California's toleration regarding sexual lifestyles refute the worry that gays are a vulnerable minority menaced by majoritarian tyranny. Proposition 8 merely restored to California law the ancient and nearly universal definition of marriage, a definition resoundingly endorsed by the U.S. Congress (85 to 14 in the Senate, 342 to 67 in the House) and written into the laws of 47 other states. California advocates of erasing the right to same-sex domestic partnerships could not even get sufficient signatures to put their measure on the November ballot.
Just eight years ago, Proposition 22 was passed, 61.4 to 38.6 percent. The much narrower victory of Proposition 8 suggests that minds are moving toward toleration of same-sex marriage. If advocates of that have the patience required by democratic persuasion, California's ongoing conversation may end as they hope. If, however, the conversation is truncated, as Brown urges, by judicial fiat, the argument will become as embittered as the argument about abortion has been by judicial highhandedness.
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