I’m straight, but I say let consenting adults do what they want. So many uptight fundamentalists must be red faced about this. Perhaps they will leave California? From a practical standpoint, the planet is overpopulated. If people find companionship in same sex relationships, there should be more adoptions and fewer mouths to feed.
Opponents of same-sex marriage say they will ask the California Supreme Court to delay the implementation of its ruling allowing gay couples to wed in the state as those on both sides of the debate gear up for a November ballot measure aimed at undoing the court’s decision.
“It’s certainly a temporary victory for those who favor same-sex marriage,” Ron Prentice, steering committee chairman of ProtectMarriage.com, said of the decision invalidating a state law defining marriage exclusively as the union of a man and a woman. Prentice’s coalition is seeking to overturn that ruling.
In about 30 days, when the court’s ruling becomes official, same-sex couples throughout the state will no longer be denied marriage licenses. But a motion to extend the waiting period to November will be filed soon, said Mathew Staver, a lawyer for Campaign for California Families, one of the groups fighting to preserve the marriage ban.
In addition, a petition for a November ballot measure that would ban same-sex marriage by amending the state constitution has collected 1.1 million signatures — far more than required — and has been handed over to election officials.
Lawyers and strategists disagree on how this debate in California will end. But they do agree that things have changed since California voters passed a similar ballot measure eight years ago banning same-sex marriage through state statute.
“There’s no question that this issue is going to dominate the fall ballot,” said Dan Schnur, a Republican political analyst. “While public opinion in California supports domestic partnerships, the majority of voters still oppose same-sex marriage. But that gap is closing.”
“It’s too early to tell whether one side or the other is going to have the advantage,” he said.
According to a 2007 survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, 55 percent of Americans oppose same-sex marriage, while 36 percent support it.
Opponents of same-sex marriage in California point to those numbers as proof that the majority of voters would back a state constitutional amendment. And, opponents say, the decision of California’s highest court earlier this week will rouse more support.
“The overwhelming sentiment is that people favor marriage between a man and a woman,” Staver said, adding that the high court’s decision “will erase whatever hesitation [Californians] may have about amending their constitution.”
Staver said he is confident that the court will grant his motion for a stay. Given the potential November initiative, allowing same-sex couples to wed would only create legal chaos for thousands of marriages that would be rendered moot, he asserted.
But the court is unlikely to grant the motion, according to David Cruz, a law professor at the University of Southern California. The court was well aware of the measure when it made its decision, he said.
“Here, we are definitely going to be seeing same-sex couples getting married,” Cruz said.
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He added that there is nothing in the language of the proposed November ballot measure that retroactively undoes marriages taking place before November, he said. If it were to pass, he said, married couples might be treated as domestic partners.
According to Andrew Pugno, a lawyer representing the coalition behind the ballot initiative, the measure would say that “only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.”
Pugno said the language is taken from Proposition 22, a successful past ballot initiative that defined marriage in the state code. Thursday’s ruling essentially struck down that proposition, but opponents hold up its 61 percent majority vote as a litmus test for future success.
Bill Carrick, a Democratic strategist, is not so sure. “Current public polling has shown that this issue has moved substantially and that it’s 50-50,” he said. “At this point, I would say it’s a tossup.”
Unlike changing state law, voters tend not to favor changing constitutional language, Cruz said.
“That, coupled with the prospect of almost six months of same-sex couples getting married, continuing their daily lives throughout the state, letting people see that their lives haven’t changed, the sky hasn’t fallen and loving relationships have strengthened — that would make it unlikely the ballot measure would pass,” Cruz said.
Eight states and the District, in addition to California, provide some form of spousal rights for same-sex couples, and a court challenge similar to California’s is pending in Connecticut. Twenty-six states, including Virginia, have passed constitutional amendments banning same-sex marriages, and Florida voters will consider one in the fall.
Many same-sex marriage supporters, comforted by what appears to be the changing of public sentiment over time, said they are not worried about the proposed measure.
“No one should have to have their love and their relationship go before the voters,” said Stuart Gaffney, 45, who was a plaintiff in the case the California Supreme Court decided Thursday. But, he added, “we’re confident that we see attitudes changing as people get to know same-sex couples and recognize this bond of love that we all share.”
Lorri L. Jean of the Equality for All campaign, a coalition of same-sex advocates preparing for a November showdown, said the measure’s potential impact should be taken seriously.
The California Supreme Court ruling “was one of the most important victories in the entire history of the movement,” Jean said. “The question is whether these extremist forces can take it away from us. This is not something that we can take lightly.” – wp