By upholding the Proposition 8 ballot measure and letting the same-sex marriages which took place last year to stand, the California Supreme Court has guaranteed that the fight over the issue:
1. Is not over in California
2. Will make both points of view more impassioned by its supporters.
3. In states where same-sex marriage is or will be an issue in the public forum should brace for long, contentious debates.
“It Encourages People in Other States”
The decision to uphold Prop 8 will make it easier for individual states to combat same-sex marriage efforts if they choose Bruce Hausknecht, judicial analyst for Focus on the Family Action told Everyday Christian in interview shortly after the decision was announced. Focus on the Family Action is an advocacy arm of Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family, which opposes same-sex marriage.
“One very important thing from the decision is that it encourages people in other states that it is up to them to have the final say, if they so choose,” Hausknecht said. “People don’t just have to give in to a bunch of judges or a liberal legislature. They can get their will expressed.”
Stating that upholding Prop 8 was an easy legal call and that “it would have been really awful” if it were overturned, he said the court left the 18,000 same-sex couples already wed is a no-win situation.
“Now the court has created a legal mess for the 18,000 couples and other states they may travel or move to. In terms of family, children, divorce and where family law hits state law, states are going to be fitting round pegs square holes validating those marriages.”
Moving forward there will be a battle for public opinion in California and other states where it comes up as an issue that requires community organizations and, of course, money.
“I think the organization part in California is easy,” Hausknecht said. “Prop 8 motivated church members, African-Americans, Mormons and raised all public awareness. That makes a grassroots battle easier. Now, too, that the public has seen weeks and months of angry mob reaction on the part of gay activists, it is easier to be turned off of the issue for same-sex marriage again.”
As for the money, “The success in California will show people that if they donate they can actually win this thing. It should encourage other states fighting this issue.”
The California Family Council, one of the leading proponents of Prop 8, hailed the decision, too. It launched the site ProtectMarriage.com as part of its effort.
“Both the historic definition of marriage and the will of the people have been bolstered today in California,” council executive director Ron Prentice said in a statement. “We thank the Court for their sound legal decision. More than 100,000 people gave of their time and resources to reinforce the meaning and purpose of marriage, and now, the broad coalition of organizations and individuals known as ProtectMarriage.com moves ahead to strengthen the essential role of marriage in California’s future.”
Debate Will Continue
As gratifying of a victory as the decision is for traditional marriage supporters, it only ensures battle lines will be drawn across the country, including in California once again.
Equality California, which favors same sex marriage, will work toward getting a new ballot initiative in 2010 that would essentially reverse Prop 8.
Calling the decision a “miscarriage of justice,” Equality Marriage Director Marc Solomon said in a statement, “Despite today’s setback, Equality California is committed to restoring the freedom to marry. We believe, as do the majority of our members, that 2010 is the best time to return to the ballot to repeal Prop. 8. We must take full advantage of the momentum and commitment people now have to do the work required on the ground.”
Similarly, grassroots organization Courage Campaign will work toward a new referendum, starting by running a TV ad that features the commitment of same-sex partners to each other and their families.
“I am disappointed the Court ruled to deny marriage equality to Californians,” said Rick Jacobs, founder and chair of the Courage Campaign in a statement. “These are fundamental constitutional rights that cannot be abolished by a ballot initiative. While we were hoping the Court would rule in favor of equality, we have been building the infrastructure to win marriage equality rights at the ballot box. Our members are ready to do the hard work needed to win.”
The significance of same-sex marriage as an issue will not be going away. Continue to look to Everyday Christian for coverage in the coming months and years.
To read the full court opinion, click here.