Regardless what happens Tuesday, the impending decision by the California Supreme Court has indelible implications on the gay marriage debate.
A nice story from the San Francisco Chronicle succinctly outlines the debate and the court’s approach.
In a nutshell, the court has three options:
1. Overturn the Prop 8 vote: Gay marriage becomes legal.
2. Uphold the Prop 8 vote: Gay marriage is not legally recognized
3. A interesting hybrid choice: Uphold Prop 8, but still allow the roughly 18,000 same-sex marriages that took place to stand as legal.
If Prop 8 is overturned, it will empower same-sex marriage advocates to go push harder within state legislatures and court systems. This already is happening in New England, although a “people’s ballot” petition mechanism will likely put the issue before Maine voters either this November or June 2010.
If Prop 8 is defeated, it will be a major victory for opponents. With the issue front and center in New Hampshire, D.C. and New York, the fact that a voters’ rejection stood will gain traction and presumably help fill the coffers of conservative pro-traditional marriage groups.
I think the hybrid decision would probably have the same effect as upholding Prop 8 altogether. Clearly it would make moving forward from an advocacy standpoint on both sides trickier.
Here are some quotes from people close to the issue on Tuesday’s decision:
Rick Jacobs, founder of Courage Campaign opposed to Prop 8: “While we are optimistic the California Supreme Court will rule in favor of marriage equality, the Courage Campaign and other organizations have been building the infrastructure necessary to win or defend marriage equality rights at the ballot box. …While the tide is turning nationally, restoring marriage equality to California will not be easy. But we know in our hearts that time is on our side, that justice will prevail, and that equality will be ours.” (From the Courage Campaign Website)
Andrew Pugno, General Counsel for ProtectMarriage.com, proponents of Prop 8: “The wait is finally over. We are looking forward to the Court’s decision, and we’re confident that the right of the people to protect traditional marriage in the state constitution will ultimately prevail.” (Direct quote sent to Everyday Christian)
Whatever happens Tuesday, it will be historic and the effects will likely shape the debate for some years to come.