Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Quick Thoughts on the Prop 8 Decision

Although yesterday's decision by the California Supreme Court to uphold Proposition 8 was, on one level, a major disappointment (a simple majority being allowed to vote away the rights of a minority seems un-American to me), I accept the results and generally agree with them.

First, whether I like it or not, the California Constitution allows the citizenry to amend it by a simple majority. Perhaps we need a new Constitution (our budgeting process is massively whacked, as well), but until then, we need to work with the one we have. And that one says only man-woman relationships can be called "marriage."

Second, the decision was very narrowly written, clearly stating that the only effect of Proposition 8 is to withhold that title of "marriage" from same-sex couples. We are allowed to be in relationships which have full legal equivalency, but (for now) they can't be called "marriages." Several activitists believe the decision was actually a win for marriage equality.

In addition, a judicial overturn of the "will of the people" (and as long as we're in the mood to eliminate rights, can we vote to outlaw toupees next, please?) would have resulted in a huge backlash against the courts and, by extension, to the gay community. No, it seems this is a freedom Californians will need to win at the ballot box.

But not in 2010, please. Although the community is already girding its loins for another electoral battle, wanting to capitalize on the marriage equality momentum from Iowa, Main, Connecticut and New Hampshire, I strongly believe 2010 is too soon. Last night I saw Gavin Newsom say something like, "We have to reconnect with the voters who weren't convinced last time and find ways of better persuading them."

I don't think the problem was persuasion - even though our campaign made some major errors. The problem is demographics. There are simply too many old people who see homosexuality as a scourge or a curse or a sin or some combination thereof. For many, no amount of logic or reason is going to change their minds.

On the other side of the coin, a solid majority of those under 40 have grown up in an era when many closet doors were blown wide open. They've watched "Will & Grace" and had friends in high school and college who were out. They've worked with openly gay people. For them, it's not really a big deal. It's even less of a deal to those under 30.

What we need to do is be patient and wait for a few hundred thousand old folks to die and a few hundred thousand teenagers to reach voting age.

2010 is too soon. Let's try 2012.

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