Friday, March 29, 2013

Prop 8 Hearing Before the Supreme Court of the US

My take on the hearing as posted on

On March 26, 2013, the Supreme Court of the U.S. considered a case regarding the constitutional legitimacy of California’s Proposition 8. For me, along with many other lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals and couples, and our straight allies, our attention was clearly focused on what was happening in Washington, D.C.
For background, in 2008, Proposition 8 amended the state constitution of California to stop same-sex marriages after the state Supreme Court permitted marriage equality. The Proposition amended the state constitution to say: “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
The problem was this: many same-sex couples had already been wed. It was a right given to same-sex couples. The question became, “Can a right that has already been granted to a group of people be taken away?”
Furthermore, the other question considered had to do with the equal protection law of the U.S. constitution: “no state shall … deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” United States District Court Judge Vaughn Walker put a halt to Prop 8 based partially on the equal protection law.
In the hearing before the Supreme Court of the U.S., one of the issues the court had to deal with was who was representing the proponents of Prop 8 before the Court. The lawyers speaking in defense of Prop 8 were not representing the state government of California. Indeed, California’s attorney general, along with the Governor, does not support Prop 8. But listening to the justices, we also heard a split court.
For example, while acknowledging gay marriage is a new concept in a tradition that stretches back thousands of years, Justice Kennedy said there is an “immediate legal injury” to same-sex couples in California who are raising children but unable to marry legally. He wondered how the law could affect the roughly 40,000 children of same-sex couples. But Justice Alito also asked: “You want us to step in and render a decision based on an assessment of (gay marriage) which is newer than cellphones or the internet,” he said, openly wondering whether it is too soon to make marriage equality the law of the land.

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