Calif. judge strikes down gay marriage ban

mactastic

macrumors 68040
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Apr 24, 2003
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Woohooo!!

SAN FRANCISCO - A Superior Court judge has ruled that California's law limiting marriage to a union between a man and a woman is unconstitutional.

It's a huge legal milestone that — if upheld on appeal — would pave the way for California to follow Massachusetts in allowing same-sex couples to wed.

The opinion had been anxiously awaited because of San Francisco's historical role as a gay rights battleground.

San Francisco County Superior Court Judge Richard Kramer said in his ruling: "It appears that no rational purpose exists for limiting marriage in this state to opposite-sex partners."

Kramer's decision came in a pair of lawsuits seeking to overturn California's statutory ban on gay marriage.

They were brought by the city of San Francisco and a dozen same-sex couples last March, after the California Supreme Court halted the four-week marriage spree.

Mayor Gavin Newsom had initiated the unions by directing city officials to issue marriage licenses to gays and lesbians in defiance of state law.
Another small step in the right direction.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,232
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i know Chicago's Mayor also supports gay/same sex marragies, but he is waiting for something to happen downstate first i guess, only if he was as liberal as Newsom though.....

this is good news though, and i hope more and more states start adopting this type of policy...
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
Long way to go...

What about the 11 states that elected to amend their consitutions to excplicitly ban gay marriage? I don't see how any judge could find it unconsitutional when it's specifically written into that state's constitution. Unless another amendment was passed to repeal the prior amendment, something would have to happen on the federal level.

However, It seems that the federal govenment is keeping out of this matter and leaving it to the states. I know Bush's administration was pushing for a federal constiutional amendment, but I don't think he was serious. I think it was just done for show to get the idea on the minds of the public. I believe that is why it was on the ballot in 11 states in '04.

I live in Michigan, one of the states that banned gay marriage. I'm very disappointed in my fellow Michigan residents. If the Christian Right wants to "defend marriage" so much why aren't they pushing to make infidelity illegal? Now, I wouldn't support making infidelity a crime, but if you are truly trying to protect marriage why do they only seem to be concerned with taking rights away from other people?

Still, this is very good news. It still concerns me because we have much farther to go compared to how far we have come on this issue, IMO at least.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,232
4
i hope that the federal government doesnt get involved in this to be honest

the only place that will land us is with a ban on all gay marriges, it should be left up to the states, and the eleven states that voted for the ban can always amend their constitutions, which is a possibility in the future, lets just hope that people wake up
 

Dont Hurt Me

macrumors 603
Dec 21, 2002
6,056
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Yahooville S.C.
PlaceofDis said:
i hope that the federal government doesnt get involved in this to be honest

the only place that will land us is with a ban on all gay marriges, it should be left up to the states, and the eleven states that voted for the ban can always amend their constitutions, which is a possibility in the future, lets just hope that people wake up
Get ready for George and the gang(congress) to define marriage for these judges. its going to come to that you know.
 

PlaceofDis

macrumors Core
Jan 6, 2004
19,232
4
Dont Hurt Me said:
Get ready for George and the gang(congress) to define marriage for these judges. its going to come to that you know.
i know it is, and im certainly not looking forward to George saying that he has to put these liberal crazy judges in line like he was saying about Mass. having Radical judges and the like

he thinks he needs to protect the 'sanctitiy' or marriage, but this country is supposed to be free of religious biases right? too bad it ain't the truth.....
 

rainman::|:|

macrumors 603
Feb 2, 2002
5,438
2
iowa
While this is indeed good news, it's very little compared to the defeats in November. California already has a domestic partner registry, remember. It's already shown itself to be gay friendly, even if it's also showed homophobia (that law's passing involved loads of propoganda, so i can't even blame the citizens for that). When we see a state that's not formed a legal opinion yet take some action, then it's great news.

Although this does illustrate how "separate but equal" domestic partner registries won't fly, so that's a hurdle crossed. Unfortunately that hurdle is far in the future for most states, considering how many are moving backwards...

still, if this holds up on appeal, it'll be another full, no-bs gay marriage state :)
 

FoxyKaye

macrumors 68000
PlaceofDis said:
i know Chicago's Mayor also supports gay/same sex marragies, but he is waiting for something to happen downstate first i guess, only if he was as liberal as Newsom though...
Well, Newsom supports same-sex marriage, and I guess he's a liberal in the classic sense, but I personally can't stand him. A lot of his "clean up San Francisco" initiatives take a page right out of Rudy Guliani's playbook. Newsom also comes from moderately-old money (the Geddy family) and is usually very pro-business (he ran a candidate for the SF school board, who thankfully didn't win, who wanted to privatize the entire system).

Still though, in the big scheme of things I suppose this is good news. And it's true, I can't believe Mass. beat us in CA to the punch (though there was a time in the early 90s when we all thought Hawai'i would be the first state). Not that my partner and I will be running in to the city tomorrow to get legally married, but it's nice to now know it is a more realistic option for us. Then there's the not-so-insignificant numbers of the Queer community (myself included) who see marriage as irrelevant, patriarchial and somewhat elitist.

I think the implications of this may be more cultural than practical at this point, and perhaps this is a good thing. I mean, if there's only two states in the union that will perform same sex marriages, and the Federal government still doesn't recognize them for taxes or immigration, then I suppose as long as we were to remain residents of CA or MA for the rest of our lives it could work. But, try using your marriage license in Utah, Idaho or Nebraska and it's a whole new game. :rolleyes:

Baby steps are good, but I hope the Queer community doesn't believe that these victories are the be-all, end-all for civil and human rights as U.S. and global citizens.
 

CorvusCamenarum

macrumors 65816
Dec 16, 2004
1,231
1
Birmingham, AL
feakbeak said:
If the Christian Right wants to "defend marriage" so much why aren't they pushing to make infidelity illegal? Now, I wouldn't support making infidelity a crime, but if you are truly trying to protect marriage why do they only seem to be concerned with taking rights away from other people?
In point of fact, infidelity already is illegal in some places, my own state among them. It's just never enforced except as supporting a petition for divorce. Marriage, whether it be gay or straight or other or whatever, is supposed to be a contract. Should one party breaks that contract, then there should be significant penalties for doing so.
 

aloofman

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2002
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PlaceofDis said:
i know it is, and im certainly not looking forward to George saying that he has to put these liberal crazy judges in line like he was saying about Mass. having Radical judges and the like

he thinks he needs to protect the 'sanctitiy' or marriage, but this country is supposed to be free of religious biases right? too bad it ain't the truth.....
I predict that Bush will do the same thing he's done on gay marriage before now: talk, but little action. He no longer has to worry about the support of religious fanatics. He's said in the past and while president that it should be left to the states. He gave verbal support to an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment, then did nothing to support it in Congress. His hot air notwithstanding, it's in his interest to leave it at that. An ultra-cynic might even say it's in the GOP's interest for there to be no movement on the issue at all, since that would keep it a wedge issue for them to bludgeon Democrats with.

To those who were surprised that Massachusetts did it before California: I'm consistently baffled that people think California is the most liberal state in the nation. It is most definitely not. Outside of the San Francisco bay area and Los Angeles County, most of the rest of the state is fairly conservative. I live about 60 miles east of Los Angeles, and this area voted for Bush and against gay marriage by a decisive margin. I'm not saying I agree with them, just that there are a lot of conservatives there. The farming and ranching areas away from the coast are populated by people that have more in common with farmers and ranchers in Nebraska and Idaho than they do with the beachgoers in Santa Monica. California conservatives were among the first to urge Bush Jr. to run for president. Reagan got his start here. California started the antitax movement in the late 1970s and it has the toughest "three strikes" law in the nation. It's not all hippies and surfers here.

And as for the Governator, in the past he's said that gay marriage is fine with him if the voters approve it. He spoke against the courts or individual mayors and magistrates making their own law, which is one of the most solid, well-thought-out positions he's taken.

My feeling is that this one of those times (like the civil rights movement) where the courts will have to make the first moves. People will wail, hem and haw, predict doom, will see that the changes didn't hurt them after all, then mostly stop thinking about it. But it will take a dramatic step like a court decision to get the ball rolling. My belief is that many of the moderates in America only oppose gay marriage because it seems "weird" to them. Even civil unions have only happened in the last ten years or so. Before that it wasn't on the radar of any mainstream politician. I think a lot of people just feel like it's happening too fast for their comfort. In a lot of ways, people are becoming tolerant and accepting of homosexuality much faster than they did of racial or gender equality. Taking the long view, I think gay marriage will make gains in several states (at least) in the next ten years.
 

Chip NoVaMac

macrumors G3
Dec 25, 2003
8,889
25
Northern Virginia
PlaceofDis said:
i hope that the federal government doesnt get involved in this to be honest

the only place that will land us is with a ban on all gay marriges, it should be left up to the states, and the eleven states that voted for the ban can always amend their constitutions, which is a possibility in the future, lets just hope that people wake up
What should be more of a concern for those fighting same sex unions is what happens if SCOTUS gets in to it. There is a possibility that legal rights given by state sanctioned "marriage" may end up out the door. Which will be a boon to lawyers.
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
Rant

paulwhannel said:
Although this does illustrate how "separate but equal" domestic partner registries won't fly, so that's a hurdle crossed. Unfortunately that hurdle is far in the future for most states, considering how many are moving backwards...
I agree the "separate but equal" is a flawed concept, if they are equal why bother to make any differentiation.

<rant>
It all boils down to homophobia and religious propoganda used to support one's fears. I don't understand why the church won't leave civics to the government and government won't leave religion to the church. Marriage is strictly a religious concept, a holy union in the eyes of god between a man and woman - if that's how a particular church wants to define it. A legal union that affords two partners legal rights and benefits, such as filing taxes jointly, assumed power of attorney when one is very ill and unable to make decisions for oneself, next of kin status for wills, etc. This is strictly an issue of civil rights.

Therefore, I do not believe the church should tell the goverment what needs to be done to protect marriages, and thereby revoking civil liberties of some our nations/state's citizens. I would also be strongly opposed to the government forcing any priest/pastor to perform a wedding ceremony for a gay couple if they did not wish to. But, any gay couple should be able to go to the Justice of the Peace and get the legal rights provided by marriage. Call it a civil union or whatever you like, but gay couples should get all the same rights, benefits and headaches that straight couples get in the eyes of the law.
</rant>

As Bill Maher once said, "Their queer, their here... get bored with it!"
 

Chip NoVaMac

macrumors G3
Dec 25, 2003
8,889
25
Northern Virginia
feakbeak said:
I agree the "separate but equal" is a flawed concept, if they are equal why bother to make any differentiation.

<rant>
It all boils down to homophobia and religious propoganda used to support one's fears. I don't understand why the church won't leave civics to the government and government won't leave religion to the church. Marriage is strictly a religious concept, a holy union in the eyes of god between a man and woman - if that's how a particular church wants to define it. A legal union that affords two partners legal rights and benefits, such as filing taxes jointly, assumed power of attorney when one is very ill and unable to make decisions for oneself, next of kin status for wills, etc. This is strictly an issue of civil rights.

Therefore, I do not believe the church should tell the goverment what needs to be done to protect marriages, and thereby revoking civil liberties of some our nations/state's citizens. I would also be strongly opposed to the government forcing any priest/pastor to perform a wedding ceremony for a gay couple if they did not wish to. But, any gay couple should be able to go to the Justice of the Peace and get the legal rights provided by marriage. Call it a civil union or whatever you like, but gay couples should get all the same rights, benefits and headaches that straight couples get in the eyes of the law.
</rant>

As Bill Maher once said, "Their queer, their here... get bored with it!"
You hit it on the head. the word marriage is much like the word kleenex; it has a legal/cultural definition and a more generalized one. If we can get people to see that we would have fewer problems on the subject.

There is no way for the government to mandate AFAIK a church to perform religious services that is against that churches beliefs.

I can see the argument made by those that defend the traditional view of marriage, that it does open Pandora's box on how to define acceptable unions. The most used argument is that of multiple wives. This has roots in religious practices going way back. So should laws on the books in the US on polygamy be abolished? There are so many other propaganda situations that this then spawns.

As half in a 12 year long gay relationship, thanks for your final words. There are many of us that would welcome the opportunity to pay the "marriage penalty" tax, among other "headaches". What I and others have wanted for a long time was just equal protections under the law. We would not seek these rights if it were not part of the Constitution. The US is not a religious "State" with religious concepts and beliefs written into the Constitution. Some are wanting to try. But in the end that might fail to pass the test.
 

FoxyKaye

macrumors 68000
aloofman said:
I predict that Bush will do the same thing he's done on gay marriage before now: talk, but little action. He no longer has to worry about the support of religious fanatics. He's said in the past and while president that it should be left to the states. He gave verbal support to an anti-gay-marriage constitutional amendment, then did nothing to support it in Congress. His hot air notwithstanding, it's in his interest to leave it at that. An ultra-cynic might even say it's in the GOP's interest for there to be no movement on the issue at all, since that would keep it a wedge issue for them to bludgeon Democrats with.
Sounds about right - the Republicans know that this issue is a can of worms that will fracture their party as well.

aloofman said:
To those who were surprised that Massachusetts did it before California: I'm consistently baffled that people think California is the most liberal state in the nation. It is most definitely not. Outside of the San Francisco bay area and Los Angeles County, most of the rest of the state is fairly conservative.
Ayup - the coastal bubble is just that. Look at all the racist propositions that have hit almost every year.

aloofman said:
And as for the Governator, in the past he's said that gay marriage is fine with him if the voters approve it. He spoke against the courts or individual mayors and magistrates making their own law, which is one of the most solid, well-thought-out positions he's taken.
It's all about populism with him. Take it to the voters!

aloofman said:
My feeling is that this one of those times (like the civil rights movement) where the courts will have to make the first moves. People will wail, hem and haw, predict doom, will see that the changes didn't hurt them after all, then mostly stop thinking about it. But it will take a dramatic step like a court decision to get the ball rolling.
There is such a thing as the tyrrany of the majority, and courts are supposed to stop this from happening when it infringes on the rights of others. The whole "activist judges" thing being touted buy Bush & co. is just an attempt to take away this power from the courts by pre-empting it with legislation. Same strategy used in different eras has also kept women from getting the vote and communities of color from civil and human rights.
 

Chip NoVaMac

macrumors G3
Dec 25, 2003
8,889
25
Northern Virginia
FoxyKaye said:
There is such a thing as the tyrrany of the majority, and courts are supposed to stop this from happening when it infringes on the rights of others. The whole "activist judges" thing being touted buy Bush & co. is just an attempt to take away this power from the courts by pre-empting it with legislation. Same strategy used in different eras has also kept women from getting the vote and communities of color from civil and human rights.
And it is those "activist judges" that still help support the right to bear arms, and helped in the recent election process. We have to realize that the courts will not always be on the side you support. But in the end we hope/pray that they have the best interests of the people and nation in their decisions.
 

iGary

Guest
May 26, 2004
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Randy's House
As half in a 12 year long gay relationship, thanks for your final words. There are many of us that would welcome the opportunity to pay the "marriage penalty" tax, among other "headaches". What I and others have wanted for a long time was just equal protections under the law. We would not seek these rights if it were not part of the Constitution.
Nicely said. I've been in a 5-year gay relationship and all we've ever wanted is equal treatment. Our relationship is no different that any of my 7 married sisters; we pay our mortgage, go to work every day, pay bills and do everything it takes to make a household work.
 

feakbeak

macrumors 6502a
Oct 16, 2003
925
1
Michigan
Chip NoVaMac said:
I can see the argument made by those that defend the traditional view of marriage, that it does open Pandora's box on how to define acceptable unions. The most used argument is that of multiple wives. This has roots in religious practices going way back. So should laws on the books in the US on polygamy be abolished? There are so many other propaganda situations that this then spawns.
The issue of defining acceptable unions is a valid one. However, I have a solution to that issue that some may find radical, but it makes a lot of sense to me. (Then again, maybe that just says something about me. :)) Why not just completely abolish the idea of "marriage" within our government? It really serves no practical legal or governmental purpose. We try to give it meaning by attaching legal stipulations to go along with marriage. You should pay more/less taxes because you decided to to make an indefinite personal commitment to another human being? Where is the logic in that idea? Someone, anyone... can you help me out? As for some practical side-effects of marriage such as power of attorney and next of kin type stuff, that could be handled legally through governmental forms easily enough without involving the concept of marriage. Just treat everyone as individuals and let them do what they wish with their personal lives so long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights.

It's the labels. Humans love to label things because that assists us in not really having to think about anything. We form opinions on labels and then we can simply find a suitable label to apply to something or someone. Then all we have to do is make judgments about it/him/her without really having to exert any effort or thought.

Marriage is a label - it has meaning in a personal/religious context. However, if you think long and hard about it, marriage has no practical meaning within the context of government. So I say, don't worry about defining acceptable unions within government leave that to the church if they want to concern themselves with labels.

In my opinion the Christian church, and the average American straight couple are afraid of gay marriage because they prefer to believe that they are better than a gay couple. Most people who don't know gays think it is "weird". The only reason they think it is weird is because they were taught it was weird. After growing up in this type of society, they honestly believe that applying the label of "marriage" to a gay couple is an insult to their own relationship. This is absurd and illogical, but is a common theme within in the Christian church.

Again, this is my opinion. But I think the Christian church is often very egotistical. This is why they are opposed to evolution, a rational theory with an immense amount of supporting evidence. Evolution scares the church because they have told themselves for centuries that humans were made in the image of God. So the thought that we descended/evolved from primates and other earlier forms of life is personally insulting to them. I think believing we are comparable to god is very conceited and judging by what I have witnessed of humanity, it doesn't speak highly of god either.

I realize I've written some things that may irritate some people. So, to be fair I will tell you that I do recognize there are many good principles to learn from Christianity, as there are from most religions. However, there is a lot of harm that has come from most organized religions as well. While I am a deeply spiritual person with strong moral convictions I believe organized religion has done more harm than good.
 

Sayhey

macrumors 68000
May 22, 2003
1,690
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San Francisco
pubwvj said:
You should count the real pioneer in this - Vermont. That makes three down.
Right now there is only one state that recognizes same sex marriage - Massachusetts. The decision by Judge Kramer is a great first step in California, but like the New York case, this is just a first step. People should remember that the California Supreme Court is made up of overwhelmingly Republican appointees. Cross your fingers and give to what ever legal fund you find appropriate, but mostly remember this is only just starting. Still a good day for equal rights.
 

aloofman

macrumors 68020
Dec 17, 2002
2,206
0
Socal
feakbeak said:
Why not just completely abolish the idea of "marriage" within our government? It really serves no practical legal or governmental purpose. We try to give it meaning by attaching legal stipulations to go along with marriage. You should pay more/less taxes because you decided to to make an indefinite personal commitment to another human being? Where is the logic in that idea? Someone, anyone... can you help me out? As for some practical side-effects of marriage such as power of attorney and next of kin type stuff, that could be handled legally through governmental forms easily enough without involving the concept of marriage. Just treat everyone as individuals and let them do what they wish with their personal lives so long as it doesn't infringe on anyone else's rights.
I agree, and you're not the first to suggest this idea. I find it highly annoying that the government would give a different status to someone based on whether they were married or not. The government should not have any stake in what personal romantic decisions a person makes. It would be fairly easy for the state to keep track of who a person wants to designate as next of kin, beneficiary of insurance policies, or whatever, without labelling them as "married". Let churches and families decide who's married and who's not. No one else should be deciding the limits of the relationship status between two consenting adults.

However, there's a major obstacle to this idea: the huge number of people out there that think marriage is somehow "sacred". This is an even larger group than those who oppose gay marriage. Common law older than the United States grants rights to married couples and I kind of doubt anything is going to change that anytime soon.