NaBloPoMo Day Twelve
Proposition 8: Be the Change
Proposition 8: Be the Change
I'm hardly the first to recognize that the California initiative process is flawed. California permits constitutional amendment by a simple majority vote in a referendum. In the case of Proposition 8, it was a proposed constitutional amendment to take away the civil rights of a minority group, which civil rights expressly and properly belonged to that group according the California Supreme Court.
The requirement of obtaining signatures reflecting 8% of the voters to put a constitutional amendment into a ballot proposition (5% is all that is required for a law) is a relatively easy task these days. A well-funded group can readily harness the power of modern electronic communication (from emails to television ads), making the California constitution vulnerable to the tyranny of the majority – the very thing the Framers sought to protect individuals from when drafting the U.S. Constitution. In the case of Proposition 8, the simple majority of voters needed to pass it were lead by a group with an admitted religious agenda, a large amount of out-of-state funding, and a campaign fraught with untruths and scare tactics.
Proposition 8 would not be the first improper voter initiative to be struck down by the California Supreme Court. Meanwhile, is there anything standing in the way of an effort to sponsor another ballot initiative to again amend the California Constitution, this time to define marriage as between any two consenting adults? So then would a game of constitutional amendment ping pong begin, with the civil rights of an entire group of people serving as the ball in play.
The procedural problems with Proposition 8 will not be the only issue held up for legal scrutiny, and the matter will not be considered only locally. The substantive civil rights issues extant in denying same-sex partners the same rights to marriage that heterosexual partners have will be more closely examined in a national spotlight. Historically, we know that the major civil rights cases decided by the U.S. Supreme Court started with unconstitutional ballot initiatives, state laws, state courts, and/or state constitutions. Noted examples are Brown v. Board of Education (1954) (finding state segregation of schools, i.e., “separate but equal” to be unconstitutional) and Loving v. Virginia (1967) (finding state anti-miscegenation laws to be unconstitutional). Law Professor Jennifer E. Rothman opined over at The Huffington Post that Proposition 8 "may ultimately lead to a decision under the U.S. Constitution holding all marriage bans in all states unconstitutional. The federal constitution also protects privacy, liberty and equal protection and even conservative judges have not looked kindly on majority votes taking away rights." I believe that California will become the ground upon which equal protection for same-sex marriage partners will be built nationwide.
Meanwhile, just like racial segregation in schools and other public places was not a black issue, neither is taking away the right to marriage for same-sex partners an LGBTQ issue. Our constitution is supposed to protect everyone equally, and when it doesn’t, we the people have to stand up and do something about it. I received many emails and comments to my posts on this subject, and I have read many blog posts in support of civil rights for same-sex marriage partners. Many of you said that if you lived in California, you would have voted NO on Proposition 8. Well, now we all have the chance to say NO, to raise our voices against discrimination.
On Saturday, November 15, a national protest will be taking place simultaneously in all 50 states in the U.S. Some international locations are also participating. Please visit the website at Join the Impact and find out where to meet in your area and/or what you can do to participate in this historic event. This is a call to action. Whether or not you can or will be marching for civil rights on Saturday, you can still help. We can harness the power of electronics too, with emails, websites and blogs, Facebook, and Google or Yahoo groups. Spread the word.
Saturday, November 15, 2008
10:30AM West Coast
1:30PM East Coast
1:30PM East Coast
The ability of all loving adult partners to obtain a state marriage license in California may have been temporarily suspended, but the love we share can never be taken away. Rather, our love for each other, and the desire for equal protection for every last one of us, is now firmly planted in the fertile soil of California to spread across the nation. Share the message. Spread the word. Be the change that you want to see.