Yesterday, the 9th circuit federal court of appeals upheld District Judge Vaughn Walker’s August 2010 decision that California’s Proposition 8 is unconstitutional by a 2-1 vote. Prop 8 was a voter referendum to amend the CA constitution to declare that marriage is only valid between a man and a woman. While the CA Supreme Court ruled that the amendment is constitutional (when judged against the California Constitution), their decision was appealed and Judge Walker ruled that it violates the U.S. Constitution. The 9th circuit court agrees.
One of the most bizarre claims made by this court (and by other courts that have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage) was that “although the Constitution permits communities to enact most laws they believe to be desirable, it requires that there be at least a legitimate reason for the passage of a law that treats different classes of people differently. There was no such reason that Proposition 8 could have been enacted.” Really? Could the court not think of one legitimate, non-religious reason to make a legal distinction between opposite-sex couples (OSCs) and same-sex couples (SSCs)? What about the fact that the two kinds of relationships do not function the same way in society? As a rule, opposite-sex unions typically produce children whereas same-sex unions do not. Given the fact that the historic reason for government regulation of marriage has been to help ensure that the individuals who create children take responsibility for raising those children together, what practical need is there for government to regulate same-sex relationships? There is none. If there is a practical need to regulate one kind of relationship but not another, that in itself is a good reason for treating the two kinds of relationships differently, giving legal recognition, responsibilities, and benfefits to one but not to the other. The fact of the matter is that there is no compelling reason for government to provide SSCs with the same benefits and shackle them with the same obligations as OSCs when the two relationships are fundamentally different with respect to the reason government regulates marriage in the first place. This is so obvious that one cannot help but to think that the justices are either blind to history and basic reasoning, or are patting themselves on the back for being able to get away with using a bald (and obviously false) assertion like this to justify their attempt to influence the direction of society in regards to marriage law.
This decision will be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court, so same-sex marriage will not resume in CA quite yet. If the Supremes take the case, and side against the appeals court, SSM will remain illegal in CA. If, however, they side with the appeals court against the constitutionality of Prop 8, then SSM may not only become a reality in CA, but also a reality across the country (depending on how broadly or narrowly they address the law). A lot of social change may be riding on this anticipated case. We’ll have to wait and see how it pans out.