Thursday, May 28, 2009

California Decision on the Proposition

Just wanted to quickly chime in on the recent Ca court decision on Proposition 8. It's been killing me not to have the time to get right on it as the news broke.

The significant up side for us personally is, of course: my family came out of all this with equal rights in several states and some countries with our still-valid Ca marriage license, along with 18K other couples, about 40% of which have children, judging from the 2000 census. That piece of paper there still puts some legal bite into the promises we made to each other so many years ago, and made again last summer in San Diego; it secures some rights in some jurisdictions, equal to other citizens, and could be used to enforce the responsibilities we've taken on as a couple and as parents. This is a great success for the best aspects of family and I hope no one overlooks that victory.

Okay, sure, we're one of the lucky same-sex couples who got there in time and maybe I'm feeling it with too much weight. It is personally important, though; we hope to and will most likely end up living in California, and equal treatment under the law is a requirement for the next government we have to pay taxes to, at least at a state level. So yeah, I'm personally happy and relieved and hope federal support of marriage is forthcoming. At least then we'd have something in effect while still here in Utah.

But, as everyone probably knows, this Ca supreme court decision is bitter sweet. Marriage is still between man and woman in addition to being between this man and his man in California, and the sky hasn't fallen. But the young gay couple just ready to make that sacred leap into marriage is left with an offer of only a "civil union" from their government. That's a good deal more than what we have in Utah, sure, and it should be appreciated but separate is not equal or tolerable in the long run. The first time they attempt to take their "civil union" into a jurisdiction unfamiliar with the what that practically means, or the first time the law makes a distinction between "married" and "civil union-ed" (as it does federally anyway), the need for all citizen to be in the same legal boat, regardless of their sex or the sex of the folks in their family, will be all too clear. You'd think it'd be apparent why heterosexual couples, in the vast majority, don't want the "equal rights" the Ca Supreme Court feels they found in "civil unions". Besides, talk about undermining the meaning of "marriage"; to legally ignore it's best aspects because of an M or a F on a birth certificate... And it's not just a matter for same-sex couples; one has to wonder what those couples that include an individual intersexed from birth, neither or both biologically M or F, are left with in Ca law now.

Anyway, 2010, or 2012, or 2014... The day is clearly coming when, throughout the US, the shape of your body or your chromosomes won't determine the amount of tax you pay, the rights of your children, if you can just run off on your spouse without legal consequence, or any of this stuff. I'm sure in California the day will return when "marriages", as performed according to the individual citizen's religious or secular convictions, will be treated justly and equally under the law, blind to our anatomy and focused instead on the weighty public interdependence, commitment, and responsibility found in the act of human coupling, be it in same-sex or, um, "opposite marriage". The day will come when people realize our children go to school too and have a right to talk about their home as much as any other kid. They will get tired of the fear mongering and will realize we can have different definitions for marriage in our homes and churches, and still be treated fairly under the government we must share.

Unfortunately, though, the mark of the Prop 8 vote, complete with the lies about everything from Catholic Charities to marriage in Europe, will always remain on those people and organizations who pushed it. It will be something we point out to our impatient grandchildren, just as I had the uncomfortable and strangely embarrassing conversation with my kids last year about how race used to matter in US law (and faith) as much as sex does in this instance. But if justice was easy, our species would have gotten it right long ago instead of in painful increments. Besides, maybe we need these bumps in the road to drive home the broader value of such ideals as the Golden Rule.

When all is added, though, I guess I can't be unhappy about this (and I've tried :-)). Tonight I'll go home to my family, to my kids, and to my husband, the man who is still my legal husband even if only when we're standing in certain territories between sea and shining sea. Hey, and at least next time we vacation in Ca, I, as a legal husband, won't have the added hassle or cost of being a second driver on the rental car contract :-). More importantly, of course, when we can move from Utah to our dreamed-of near-beach home, we will have what any man would want from his state for his family.


Bravone said...

I am relieved for you and your family.

Mr. Fob said...


A question for the legally informed: If Obama repeals DOMA, will that mean that Utah is required to recognize your CA marriage, despite the amendment they passed a few years back?

El Genio said...

We are not giving up. :) I think that in the next campaign we can make extra concessions to alleviate some of the (bogus imo) fears that people used as excuses. If we focus on the positive aspects of love, we can do this!

J G-W said...

I'm not sure DOMA is constitutional... It's yet to stand up to a serious challenge. That's why opponents of same-sex marriage can't tolerate same-sex marriage in a single state, and why they've been pushing for a Federal marriage amendment.

Grant Haws said...

I'm glad that your family is safe. And I hope you are able to be recognized in every state soon.

Scot said...

Thanks Bravone, and Grant.

Mr. Fob: I'm sure Utah won't recognize it and it will be a legal battle, but as J says it hasn't really been tested (but I'd like a more friendly SCOTUS than we have now before it is). The biggest benefit to us, while here, would be on federal taxes and SS.

El Genio:
"I think that in the next campaign we can make extra concessions to alleviate some of the (bogus imo) fears that people used as excuses."

I completely agree. Though it should be obvious, give them all the assurances they need that legal marriage gives us as much right to be married in a LDS temple as legal marriage for Hindus does now (or as my legal marriage now in Ca does). It's just sad, though, to have to address such strange "concerns".

I fear the one that's going to be tough to address is the school issue. Our children do go to school with theirs, legal marriage or no, and what they fear is something we'll all have to address regardless of the law, and yet I'm sure they'll again use the fear of addressing it to try to keep our families from equal legal protections.

Ophidimancer said...

Yay, our license is still legal.